Every blog I write starts with the same prayer/question, "Father, what would you have me say?" And then I go for a run and see what stirs around in my mind.
If I don't have anything worth saying, I don't write.
This drives our marketing firm crazy. The firm's job is to help us reach our goals by doing all the right marketing stuff. And regular blogging, in a steady rhythm, is the best way to attract and maintain followers. So say all the experts.
But I can't bring myself to follow the "rules" of marketing. They say I should add our voice to the commentary on the Zuckerberg/Chan gift. They say I should set aside time to write every day or every week on a regular basis. Don't worry so much about quality; just publish. I can't do it their way, though.
Maybe I'm just a rule-breaker by nature, but I think it's more complex.
I feel as if I can't follow those rules and follow Christ at the same time. Isn't striving to garner a following antithetical to the way of the cross, which calls us to humbly submit? Marketing can feel like "see me, notice me, recognize me, love me for what I'm doing."* The ways of grace are deeper and more other's focused. Change a heart. Change a town.
After all, the world doesn't need more words. We don't need more noise. We need more space, more silence to listen.
The world doesn't need my voice. We need Jesus. And I certainly don't want to pretend that I speak for Him.
Occasionally, I have something to say about the world of impact investing, to clarify the ideas or tell stories of people who are doing really cool things in their Impact Companies. Mostly, what I want to say is nothing more than to point to the Father. I want to create space to hear whatever it is Jesus has for of us today. And that doesn't work according to a marketing calendar.
As I was feeling guilty for missing yet another marketing deadline, I began reflecting on Jesus' interaction with the woman at the well from John 4.
Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon. When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” ...
The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.” Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.”
Leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?”
Look how differently Jesus works than how we would in the same situation. The "marketing rules" would tell us to meet with the most influential person in town, convince them to be our advocate, then have him introduce us to his friends and followers.
That's not Jesus' way. He chooses to work through one of the least desirable, least trustworthy people he could find. Not a Jew. Not a man. Not even a married woman. What I see in this story is the clear reminder that Jesus delights in showing up in unexpected ways. He does His work through unlikely people in unlikely ways because His glory shines brightest that way.
We're building Impact Foundation to be a place where people offer what they have and let God make it even bigger than we could imagine. It's our whole purpose - to see God using people in unlikely or unconventional ways to grow His Kingdom.
We're not going to fire our marketing team and hide under a rock. But I write this blog as a kind of accountability. Don't ever let us fool you into thinking any success we might stumble upon has to do with us. I'll close with the words of A.W. Tozer as a prayer of thanksgiving.
“For the blessed news is that the God who needs no one, has in sovereign condescension set Himself to work by and in and through His obedient children.... our inner fulfillment lies in loving obedience to the commandments of Christ and the inspired admonitions of His apostles. “It is God which worketh in you.” He needs no one, but when faith is present He works through anyone.”
(*This is just my own personal wondering, not a commentary on anyone else's blog or marketing plan.)