Laurie Coombs is a passionate writer and speaker on the issues of forgiveness, redemption, and the hope found in Jesus. She is the author of Letters from My Father’s Murderer: A Journey of Forgiveness, an incredible true story of grace, mercy, and the redemptive power of God. Her story was featured in Billy Graham’s film, Heaven, as well as on many other national and regional radio and television programs. She is a contributor to Zondervan’s NIV Bible for Women and writes at LaurieCoombs.org. Laurie and her husband, Travis, make their home in Nevada along with their three daughters.
In a letter I received from Anthony (the man who murdered my dad) a few months ago, he said, “I also know you feel as I do, if only one person read [our testimony] and came to Jesus because of it, because of our pain, tears, repentance, and forgiveness, all of it was worth it.”
Anthony is right. And He got me thinking.
If our story saves one––only one––I do believe my efforts to share what God has done is all worth it. Yet, I also believe Jesus called me to share this story with many. In fact, I believe I’m called to write a book about it.
WHAT IT TAKES TO PUBLISH TODAY
When writing a book, you hear a lot about the need to build a “platform” or establish a “tribe” of followers who engage with you both on your blog and on social media (Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest…) who will then become your audience for your proposed book. Even though all this “platform building” feel like self-promotion––which makes me ridiculously uncomfortable––I’ve been doing it, nonetheless, attempting to promote Jesus instead of myself.
Building a platform is a necessary step toward publishing.
But it can so quickly become about the numbers. How many people are reached with each post? How many visitors to my blog each day, week, month? How many Twitter followers? How many Facebook likes? And the list goes on.
But what gets lost amid the numbers is love. Each of those numbers represents a soul. A soul Jesus loves and wants to help. We are all called to love one another. We’re all called to minister to one another. It may look different for some people than for others, but the call is all the same. Love.
And here’s the thing: My “followers” are not my followers, they’re Jesus’ followers. [Tweet that] A sweet friend pointed that out to me a while back, and I appreciated the perspective.
This issue is not a new one, either. It was found long before the emergence of social media and platform building. The Corinthian church faced the same problem. In 1 Corinthians 1:12-14 and 1:17 Paul says,
What I mean is that each one of you says, ‘I follow Paul,’ or ‘I follow Apollos,’ or ‘I follow Cephas,’ or ‘I follow Christ.’ Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? …For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.
It is Jesus who needs to be center. We don’t need Laurie followers, we need Jesus followers!
ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE (LOVE BEFORE MISSION)
My calling––and your calling too––needs to come from a place of love, for without love there is no real impact. [Tweet that] Sure, some may be intrigued by our stories, but the impact will be little without love.
It’s not about numbers. It’s not about me. It’s not even about my story.
It’s about Jesus.
It’s about loving God and loving people. Sound familiar? It’s the Great Commandment Jesus spoke of in both Matthew and Mark.
The Great Commandment comes before anything else. Yet, it is followed by the Great Commission.
The Great Commission is our mission in this world. Jesus tells us, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20).
We do have a mission––to share the message of the Gospel with the world. But the mission doesn’t come before the commandment to love. [Tweet that]
The cart doesn’t come before the horse!
Love comes first. Always. [Tweet that]
Yet, we have a job to do. And for some of us that job may require the use of social media, but it is all to be motivated by love. Just as the title of Bob Goff’s book says, “Love Does.” (This is a great book, by the way, one of my favorites!)
There have been times I have gotten things a little backwards. But each time it's brought to my attentions, I run to Jesus asking for His grace to come back to the place where all I do is derived out of my love for Jesus and for His people. It's so easy to fall into this trap. We need to be in constant prayer. Prayer is powerful, and I certainly want to get this one right.
Back to what Anthony said. If we can impact only one through our love, it will all be worth it.