Jon Acuff is the founder and proprietor of one of evangelicalism's most widely read blogs, Stuff Christians Like. He's also the author of the book, Stuff Christians Like and a new book, Quitter. His writing and work has been featured by CNN and other media outlets, he's a sought-after conference speaker, and he now works with the Dave Ramsey team.
You talk in your new book, Quitter, about fulfilling God-implanted dreams. Did you ever think you'd be in a place where you are now, fulfilling your dreams as a writer and communicator and author?
Absolutely not. In fact, when I began blogging at my first blog, Prodigal John, I had about fifty people reading it. I explain in Quitter that I didn't write on a whiteboard somewhere, "Nashville" and then "popular blogger" and "4,000 people showing up." I just didn't.
But now that God has given me success, for me it's about being obedient and stepping into the moment and the platform and representing Him well.
One of the powerful things about the digital revolution is that it empowers voices to emerge that might not have been heard before. I think of guys like you and like Tim Challies, for instance, who have begun their careers and ministries online.
You're so right about that. I tell people all the time that we are living in an age with the best possible tools available. We have more access to more talent than at any time in history. It's remarkable. I'm wondering how I would have been discovered before. Would I print out a newsletter or pamphlet and hand it out door-to-door?
The famous "bloggers" of another generation were writing in their notebook diaries at night, nobody discovered them. The bands discovered on YouTube were playing in garages with no exposure. The talented but overlooked broadcaster was making tapes and sending them to stations. Today, with minimal skill you can set up a podcast and if you are good, you'll be discovered.
The downside of this, some say, is that there is no filter—or that the previous filters, such as media organizations, publishers, networks, are no longer there.
You're right that the filters are changing, though many of the structures are still in place and you will try to get exposure through more popular networks. It's just that they are changing form.
But the reader is largely his own filter now. And so is time. Blogging is hard work. It's a full-time job in many respects. And good content is the filter. With so many options out there, there is increasing pressure to make sure your content is good, relevant, and done well.
I also think, through social networking, friends are the filter. For instance, if you like an article it's easier now to share it on Twitter or Facebook. We tend to trust those we follow.
I want to talk about your book, Quitter. You're goal seems to be to help people follow their dreams, but in a responsible way.
Sometimes we Christians go to a camp or conference and get fired up as if the dream, God's will for everyone, is to sell all of their stuff and move to Guam as a missionary. Now that may be the dream of some, but not for everyone.
God gives everyone different callings. And I don't think the Bible supports irresponsibility—ignoring faithfulness to pursue a passion. For instance, wrecking a marriage, making financially destructive choices, is no way to pursue your dream. Trusting God doesn't mean being foolish.
In other words, you can be part of the change in the world, you can pursue your calling and you can support your family, be responsible, care for those you are supposed to care for. That is, in many ways, the theme of Quitter.
Do you think the "American Idol" culture has created a sense of getting everything we want now?
Absolutely, we want everything now. One piece of advice I give folks about pursuing dreams is to give yourself the gift of patience. Don't be a slave to comparison, statistics, etc. That's one thing God has taught me. I used to constantly compare myself to other bloggers and sweat the stats.
This is one of the misconceptions about blogging. It's very easy to get started. That's one nice feature of this digital age. But to keep it going takes hard, hard work. Lots of writing and rewriting. Discipline, scheduling. It's like running a newspaper. Day 1 is easy. Day 100 is hard. Day 1000 is hard.
The fulfillment of a dream comes after hard work, persistence, and a time of waiting, trusting, and humility. Look at Paul. He was met by Jesus and dramatically converted on the road to Damascus. Immediately he had a burning passion to preach the gospel to the world, but for many years he toiled in obscurity. He made tents for a living. Jesus spent thirty years in obscurity before his ministry began.
We have to give our talents time to be honed and crafted, time to mature. And then when we are ready and we get our "big break," so to speak, we step into the moment and make the most of what God does through us.