I’ve always dreamed of being asked to give a commencement speech and share wisdom with graduates. Needless to say, that hasn’t happened. This year, though, since most colleges are doing “virtual” graduations, no one’s being asked and still many are making commencement addresses online. So I figured if no one asked them and they’re doing that, why can’t I. I thought about it because I’ve seen many of my friends, family, and students who are graduating from college or high school. I’m proud of them. Many of my friends who graduated from college have dealt with college classes and, and have still survived. No, I didn’t leave a word out. Instead of being able to focus specifically on college classes, they have gone to college and raised their families, dealt with illness, (my wife who graduated with her doctorate last year dealt with cancer) worked full time jobs. So for those students who had an “and” I applaud you greatly. I’ve seen many of my students graduating from high school and college this year. Sure, I had them in middle school, but they aren’t former students, they’re my students. Teachers will understand that sentiment. My nephew, Charles R. Wells graduated Magna Cum Laude, University Honors with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Computer Science from Virginia Commonwealth University’s College of Engineering. My son, Timothy James, graduated from University of Alabama at Huntsville with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Computer Engineering. Tim was an “and” student who worked a full time job, raised three children, along with his beautiful wife, and served in the military reserves. I’m proud of my family. I’m proud of my friends. I’m proud of my students. This address is for them! But, before you watch it, you may want to go to YouTube and play “Pomp and Circumstance” on repeat about 30 times…just to set the atmosphere. 😉
This is a repost of my blog on my devotional page: Daily Enduring Truth. The devotionals I write daily, re-starting tomorrow, July 1, will appear there. I just wanted to share some of the things I’ve learned here, also.
The end is near! No, that’s not an apocalyptic statement, that’s a commentary on my self-granted three-month sabbatical. I stopped the daily devotional writing to do some self-reflection, to think about the process of writing the devotionals, and to think about their worth. What did I learn in three months?
The first thing I learned is that I need to write these devotionals every day to hold myself accountable for reading God’s word daily. There were many times in the last three months when I let my daily Bible reading slide because I got involved in doing other things. Usually, those things were non-productive. In the past week, I’ve played a lot of catch-up on my daily reading because of the number of times I’d let the day pass me by instead of giving God control of the day from the beginning. When I re-start tomorrow, it’s with the goal of making sure that I don’t fritter time away on unimportant stuff because I start each day by reading and reacting to God’s word.
I need to write these devotionals in the morning. I started off the year trying to write devotionals for the evening time – for people coming home from work. This brought about some of the same problems of letting things slide and then rushing to do a less than quality job, in my opinion. My character and writing style don’t suit an evening devotional (only) style. I may do research in coming months and years and try something like that again, but it would be an additional thought each day, not my only writing. While the idea excited me at the beginning of the year, it never succeeded in my mind because I wasn’t ready to do that just yet.
Part of what I was doing during this time was working on marketing. I did a few things to drive people to my books. I offered the July-August eBook version of the devotionals as a free giveaway on bookfunnel. I advertised. While I gave away a few free eBooks, and I sold a few more books than normal, I can tell you that three years ago when I retired, I thought I’d make enough to supplement my income in a small way. This is definitely not happening. To be honest, I’m not sure how to market devotional books. Someone asked me about doing an autograph and meet the author table and I told him I didn’t really see something like that. How do you autograph devotional books when the idea is to get people to focus on what God is or can be doing in their lives? I’ll put the bookfunnel link at the end of this post I case you need it.
One thing I started long ago was doing what I could to help other authors share links or comments about their books. I celebrated their successes and recommended books and/or authors through my social media. While I didn’t have anything for them to share at the time, I made a few comments about how I expected similar considerations in the future. Apparently, what I thought was a quid pro quo kind of marketing was more of a quid pro no situation. Perhaps these friends didn’t see my posts on social media, but for the most part, with a few exceptions, those I supported in the past were conspicuous by their lack of support for me. I understand that many of my author friends are not Christians, but they could have said something like, “If you’re a Christian, you may want to check out these devotional books by a friend of mine.” The lack of support and the lack of response from people I might expect to download a free book was disheartening. That being said, I’ll need to find better ways to spread the word about these books.
Why do I want to spread the word about these devotional books? One of the things I realized is that these books are my ministry. The call that I am answering through these books (the devotional series) and through my daily articles is to build up the body of Christ. I should have realized that at the beginning of the year in an exciting way. A pastor with great integrity contacted me and asked about using these devotionals for his church this year. He could easily have just put them up on his church site and I would never have been the wiser; instead, he contacted me and asked what it would cost to do that. In these days where lack of integrity runs rampant, I honored his integrity by giving him the rights to publish them on his website at no cost, because it would allow me to fulfill my ministry of building up the body of Christ. I take this ministry and this writing seriously, and I’m grateful for those who respect the work I do, hopefully under God’s guidance.
I’ve run into friends and people I’ve supported who haven’t seen this as a ministry. They’ve rejected my offers to speak about the need for spiritual growth. They’ve blown me off when I suggested that what I had to say might be important to the people that they work with. These are not strangers who’ve done this, these are friends: people that I’ve known and supported for years. One of my goals in the days and years to come is to help people understand that the work that I do as I write to build up the body of Christ is an important part of helping the body of Christ to grow.
What will devotionals look like starting tomorrow? I don’t know right now. I’m trying to find ways to be more succinct in my writing, but, as might be obvious, I tend to go on. All I know is that I will continue to share what God teaches me daily for anyone who wants to read. I may add a few wrinkles to the way I do things, but I will try to keep things substantive. If you still haven’t downloaded the July-August eBook version yet, you can download it without costing you a thing by going to this link:
After writing my devotional today, a process interrupted by a discussion re problems with email and waiting forever to deal with my webhost, I began working on my book. The book is just about ready to go to the publisher. (Self pub, but going through the process). I still need some front matter to include in the book and a fix on the cover. I had to strategize with my wife on the cover issue. I left to teach a chess lesson and then came home to get ready for a night of international cuisine with my wife. The college where she works has an amazing restaurant management program and tonight they served Asian food. It was great! Then, home to relax and deal with small things, not major things. Got news about a friend coming down to visit. I’m excited about that, too.
Today’s devotional (588 Words) – April 17 – Humble Pie is on the Menu