"Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight." -Proverbs 3:5-6
Resolutions weren't really my thing at the start of this year; instead, it has been all about realizations — and over the past 12 months I've come into one key understanding that will forever change my perspective.
Without a doubt, 2016 was a year filled with a plethora of lessons, experiences and learning curves. Above all else, I finally came to understand how to "let go and led God." Okay, okay: I know, the sentiment sounds corny, but there's something much deeper there than mere cliche.
If I'm being honest and transparent, I must admit something: Over my 18 years (I started at age 15) working on media, my motivations have sometimes been a bit off; at moments, I've allowed the quest for notoriety, pride, the desire for money and other sentiments to sometimes take over as the primary drivers of my professional quests and decision-making.
And when those motivations take the lead, it's easy to find ourselves a bit off course. Luckily, I've always believed in the projects and companies I've been a part of, but I guess what I'm saying is that in 2016 I came to the realization that it's what God's wants that really matters.
It's easy to obsess about Twitter followers, social media chatter, book sales and other markers of success and prominence — and having a healthy business view on these things is great and beneficial. But it's when we pour ourselves so deeply into these efforts that we miss out on what's important — on God's calling for our lives — that we've got a problem.
Just think: when we die, none of that stuff matters. None of it.
Instead, what matters is: Did we accept Christ? Did we acknowledge God the way he wanted us to? What have we done to help others? How have we loved those in our lives? And the list goes on. I guess my point is this: All too often, what we come to value in life and what we allow to drive us is totally and utterly out of sync with what really and truly matters.
And trust me: I'm not lecturing here. I, too, still struggle to live it out despite getting a little bit of clarity on it all these past 12 months.
During my years at TheBlaze, I became obsessed with readership numbers, rankings, etc. I wanted to bring attention to my own name and push hard on the stories that I felt would advance my personal "brand." Some of those qualities were wonderful, though there was something I was missing. I was constantly chasing success, but my motivation wasn't always to serve God or, more importantly, to act in a way I felt Him leading me.
That all changed in 2016. I published my first book (I never thought in a million years that I'd write my first book about the end times), willingly left my position as faith and culture editor of TheBlaze and took a short-term contract with Deseret News before landing at Faithwire.com this past fall.
Instead of playing it safe of just acting on my own whims, I tried to choose what I felt God wanted. Am I still working hard? Absolutely (I still obsess over readership stats and pour myself into whatever I do).
But things are a bit different now. I'm seeking God more, asking Him where he wants me and acting on His plan and not merely my own. And it's pretty freeing. I'm realizing more and more that things that might feel like failures or disappointments in the moment might have a greater purpose later on that I can't see in the immediate.
I think, in the end, 2016 brought me an entirely new perspective: notoriety and fame don't matter; what matters is how we live, whether we live for God, what we do with our lives and how we impact our world. I'm no longer depressed when things don't go my way, and I'm no longer aimlessly pushing toward opportunities without seeking guidance.
As a Christian I always knew this was the case, but I simply got distracted. That's my 2017 realization.