It’s been said that writing is a lonely pursuit, and yet, in the end, it couldn’t be done without a lot of team effort. There’s a reason most books have a long list of people in the acknowledgments section at the back. Publishing a book is complicated. Writing the manuscript is the easy part. Okay, maybe not easy, per se, but enjoyable at least. I love writing the story, arranging the plot like pieces of a puzzle to reveal the finished picture. It’s challenging and time-consuming, but I enjoy it. Once that’s done, you might think I’m pretty much finished. And you would be wrong. Finishing the manuscript is only the first step in a very long process, and can only be accomplished with the help of many others along the way.
Once I reach a point where I’m happy with my manuscript, it’s time for editing. And not just one round, mind you, but multiple rounds. Then there’s interior formatting to consider, where the chapters and paragraphs are arranged the way they will appear on the written page. There’s the book cover to design. There are endorsements and reviews to obtain. It’s a good idea to have an up-to-date author website. All these things take time and a certain level of expertise. And I’m honest enough with myself to admit that I don’t have the expertise required for some of those things. I need the help of others.
Some authors choose to do their own websites, design their own book covers, and take care of the interior formatting themselves. There’s nothing wrong with that, but I personally choose to hire others for those tasks. Web design is absolutely not my thing, and while I could learn how to do it, I’d much rather hire a pro and use my own time for writing other manuscripts. Same with the book cover and interior formatting.
Even authors who choose to do formatting and cover design themselves need an editor. Editors catch things that don’t flow well, grammatical errors, and things that could be changed to improve the story. They can do this from a neutral perspective, as someone who hasn’t just spent the past months (or years) writing this manuscript. Editors are essential to the success of a book.
With all these different facets to consider, it’s easy to see why writing is a team effort. No author is an island. This can be said of many other areas of life as well, but most notably in the Church. On more than one occasion, the Bible likens the Church to a body with many members. “From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work,” Ephesians 4:16 tells us. Each one of us has a job to do, a gift God has given us to edify the rest of the body. We need one another. Yes, you need fellow Christians, but that also means they need you too.
Perhaps you’re tempted to think you don’t have anything to offer, or that your talents are less than those of other members. Don’t fall for that lie. True, some gifts are more visible than others, but that doesn’t mean behind-the-scenes workers are less important. My name is on my books as the author, but I couldn’t have published them without my editor, who spent hours to help polish the manuscripts. I can’t write reviews for my own books, so I have to depend on my readers to do so. My circle of acquaintances is limited, so I rely on my friends and my launch team to help publicize my books and tell other people about them. My success as an author depends on other people.
Does not the same hold true in the church? How often do we see the same members filling multiple roles, only because no one else will volunteer? People who aren’t gifted with teaching are guilted into doing Sunday School because no one else will do it. Or perhaps you’ve used the excuse that you don’t volunteer your time because no one has asked you. Dear friends, the work of the Church is one in which all members can and should participate. The pastor can’t do it alone. Each member has something to offer, no matter how seemingly insignificant. Even homebound members can pray, send cards of encouragement, and support the mission of the Church with their offerings.
There is one important difference between my success as an author and the success of the Church—it doesn’t depend on us. God is the one who causes His Church to grow. But He chooses to use us, His children, to be His hands and feet in the world. Whatever your service looks like, it is valuable—teaching, singing, praying, serving on the altar guild, bringing food to members who have experienced loss… The possibilities are endless. And like my launch team, everyone can spread the Good News to those around them.
You are part of a vital team effort, my friend. Never doubt that God has given you exactly the right gifts, and He will help you use them to serve Him as you serve others, trusting that He will grant eternal success.