I’m spending these closing weeks of the year taking a mental step back from being “in the thick of things” with my work and ministry. I’ve felt overwhelmed at various times this year and, as I’ve noted, not everything has “worked out” as I imagined or hoped it would. I would like to feel more “in sync” with my work and ministry in 2018, so I am intentionally taking time to reflect, listen, pray, and ponder.
Some images and ideas are arising as a result. Interestingly, perhaps in part because of the work I’ve been doing for the online Advent retreat, the role of John the Baptist has been coming to mind. John 1:6–9 says that John the Baptist came to “testify to the light” that was coming into the world. It also says clearly that John was not the light; his job was to testify—to tell others about that Light of Christ.
I’m finding this understanding to be in quite stark contrast to the marketing and business-growth information that I’ve received through multiple channels as I’ve worked to grow my business and ministry over the years. Everything is about getting your brand, your name, out in front of people, in an increasingly overcrowded market and cacophonous online world.
One of the realities that is arising to my awareness is a sometimes-overwhelming sense of exhaustion, perhaps from all that work of putting myself and my brands out there. I do have some results to show for it—but as I look back upon my expanding editing and writer-coach business, most of that expansion has come through word of mouth and connections, rather than any explicit marketing that I’ve been doing. It’s been less about me and more about how I’ve “showed up,” been present, and the quality of the work I’ve done.
I find it ironic that, for a handful of reasons, I still don’t have a live website—although one has been in the works for much of the year now. Perhaps it will be live by the end of the year. Despite that lack of what most marketers would consider a fundamental element of my business, I’m still getting work and opportunities are still arising.
I choose to believe this has happened because of the work of the Spirit. Because I consider my editing and writer-coach work to be a ministry, I believe that the Spirit is guiding that work, so that others can benefit from the gifts and skills given to me by God. It’s not about me—in that ultimate sense—and that’s how I’m making the connection with John the Baptist.
My work is not about me. In what I do most authentically, I am testifying to the Light of the World. My work is about assisting and supporting the work of my clients. God is blessing that ministry, and I am grateful.
Where in your life are you called to testify to the Light of the World?
Shirin, your post SO resonates with me! And I am compelled to share with you about the book I’m reading currently, Barking to the Choir by Gregory Boyle. What strikes me is his point about how we are called to kinship with each other. Which isn’t about talking TO but more about listening and receiving each other. The point is that we are all one. One “brand”, so to speak. So it is weird to internalize that and then contrast that with what it’s like to put your individual brand out there. How can we brand ourselves individually when we are all one? I think about how brilliantly and blessedly you listen deeply and show me how to do that and I think, wow. That’s not a brandable commodity. Rather, like John, it is you pointing me toward the Light.
Thank you, Sondra. I’m so glad you found resonance with my post. The book sounds like a great one for me to check out–and yes, branding commodities like deep listening is hard to quantify in terms the broader culture would understand. I’m glad that I am successful in doing what you need…that is key!
I love this Shirin. It’s why I never took up my marketing “branding” friend in Santa Fe to become “big” and bold. I’d rather be a small, but loving presence in the world, doing good work attuned to Christ’s light and life.
We are kindred spirits! Like your bees, you are small but powerful and critical to the life of the planet! 😉