The Trajectory Principle

American culture sends mixed messages. On one hand it tells us that we can be “anything we want to be,” but then if we don’t rise to the top of whatever we pursue it tells us we are failures or at best we should be disappointed in ourselves. There are winners and losers and we are either one or the other.

But that is simply not true.

A great mayor of small town is not a failure when he/she does not desire or is not elected to the county board or state senate or governor. Being a great mayor is just fine.

A part-time pastor of a church of sixty people might be doing more important work in God’s eyes and have a more deep and abiding faith than a high profile mega-church pastor with a TV program.

An excellent departmental manager is not a failure if they don’t become CEO. Excellent leaders are needed everywhere.

Some of the greatest coaches are not working for a high profile university or professional team. The best might be a part-time coach, full-time teacher at a small high school in a rural town. Over the many years, he/she has changed the lives of hundreds of teenagers by inspiring them to overcome adversity and be the best they can be. They might have been the only positive parental role-model to some of those same teens.

The greatest music director might not be the eccentric and brilliantly difficult conductor of a major orchestra, but the grade school music teacher who inspires hundreds to love music and make it part of their lives forever.

The greatest teacher might not be in a nicely appointed office at an Ivy League university, but at a folding table in a windowless classroom in a community center working as a tutor in an afterschool program for children having a difficult time making the grade.

You get the point.

Today, I am exploring what it means to be an author and a concept I am calling The Trajectory Principle. Trajectory is the flight path an object takes after force is applied.

Every writer will have a trajectory to their writing career and will affect the lives of certain number of people.

With no apologies for my directness…a lie from the pit of hell is that your life is a failure and no one cares about you unless you are #1 in the world’s eyes and that God is disappointed with you and every time you read the parable of the talents, you feel worse.

The enemy of your soul loves to discourage and he wins when you buy the lie that God’s value for you is connected to your worldly success.

This is where the “winning is everything” or “second place is failure” thinking is extremely destructive. We’ve all bought into it.

It makes nice headlines for motivational speeches to linebackers, but lousy advice for living.

Authors have been driven to depression and creative paralysis thinking they are failures because their book trajectory didn’t meet sales expectations of themselves or the publisher.  But how many people in the world have the opportunity to affect the lives of five hundred people, not to mention five thousand people or more?

When Jesus spoke to the crowd and delivered what has been known as The Beatitudes, he outlined a counter-culture world view that is 180 degrees in a different direction than just about everything in the culture. His definition of trajectory is very different than we are led to believe.

It breaks my heart when a good writer decides to abandon writing excellent articles for the church monthly newsletter, the bi-weekly free newspaper or the local school website because our culture said they are nothing unless they are writing the great American novel for big money.

When that happens, the devil has won and is all smiles.

It breaks my heart when a good writer thinks their only valid “trajectory” is to compete head-to-head with Stephen King, J.K. Rowling or Max Lucado.

The ability to write well is a gift from God. But God calls different people to different things. He calls missionaries to forsaken places where their work is tedious and seemingly unfruitful, except for a few encouraging signs once in a while. He also calls people to do big spectacular mountain-moving things. Both are important.

If you don’t think so, you have bought the lie.

Take heart, if God has given you the ability to create with words, you should find ways to exercise that ability, realizing that it might not be for big money, or any money at all. It might be writing books or it might be writing amazing notes of encouragement and inspiration to five friends.

One to one instead of one to many.

Once every aspiring or experienced author accepts that God is in control of their trajectory, it will make the flight much more fulfilling and worthwhile.


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