Mark 6:4 ”A prophet is not without honor except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home.” (NIV)

 

I love my book club. We read a new book every month, meet for dinner and girl talk, and unlike many book clubs I’ve heard of, we actually discuss our books and the impact they have on us. It’s a great group of women who I consider to be great friends. At first I felt a little out of their league because so many of them were so accomplished. One had been a champion for working women and a leader in the WBE certification process at the federal level. She had actually met with two different Presidents at the White House during their respective terms. Another had a husband who was the CEO of a large coal company and was, on occasion, found in closed-door meetings with President Obama. A third member wabe-a-prophet-to-the-world-not-your-home-towns the founder and CEO of a $50 million global career transition and development firm. We also have a realtor, a couple of corporate wives, a highly successful commercial real estate broker, and little old me.

Except I wasn’t really little old me. I had recently published two books through my small press, Stonebrook Publishing, that we had read for our book club. One was called Storming the Tulips by Hannie J. Voyles, and it was about her life as a Holocaust survivor who went to school with Anne Frank. She had interviewed twenty of the students from their school and written about their lives during the war and what they endured in hiding, in concentrations camps, and how they survived the time when much of the population of Amsterdam either starved to death or froze to death. The other book, A Life in Parts by Vicki Bennington and Daniel Brannan, is the story of Loretta Goebel, a quadruple amputee. Loretta had been in her basement wrapping Christmas presents when the doorbell rang. As she flew up the stairs, she banged her hand on the door jamb, but thought nothing of it. As a result of that injury, she ended up having both her legs, her left hand, and all the fingers on her right hand amputated. During her recovery she got hooked up with Heather Mills and Paul McCartney, and they brought her to England to have her beautiful prosthetic legs designed at the same place Heather got hers. As a result of that relationship, we got back-cover endorsements from both Sir Paul McCartney and Cindy Crawford.

My book club knew the ins and outs of both these books because they had, in a sense, walked through the process with me as I edited and worked with the authors to write and rewrite the manuscripts until they were ready for final publication. After the books were published, as a group, we attended a conference where author Hannie Voyles spoke about the ravages of living during the Holocaust, and Loretta Goebel had attended our book club to talk about her faith and recovery the month we read A Life in Parts. They also knew that I had turned my attention away from signing authors and publishing their books and had developed a step-by-step program to help thousands and thousands of people write high-impact nonfiction books that would save lives, change lives, or transform society. And it worked. People were writing their books and impacting the world.

We talk about a lot of things at book club and always find out who’s doing what, whose kids are doing what, and in the past few years, we’ve begun to share pictures and stories of our grandchildren. I tried not to let my feelings be hurt when two of the women started writing their books — with the help of someone else. They both traveled to distant places and parked themselves in scenic locations to write their books, shelling out thousands and thousands of dollars for assistance to write and produce their books. I mentioned this to my friend, the realtor in our group.

“Can I ask you something?” I said, dipping my toe in the water.

“Anything,” she said. We’d been friends for a long time, and she’d helped me buy and sell several houses, always for the price I wanted within a two week period. She was good at what she did.

“Every time they start talking about their books, I get really embarrassed. I know they know that this is my profession and that I have clients all over the world. What do you make of that?” I asked.

“Beats me,” she replied. “They all know I’m a realtor and we’ve had group discussions about them selling their parents’ homes to move them into nursing care. And they use other realtors. It doesn’t seem to dawn on them that I am a real estate agent.”

The Real Reason

Of course, there could be a number of reasons why our book club friends chose to work with other professionals, but I don’t think it had anything to do with our competency or expertise. We’re both really good at what we do. Perhaps they don’t want to mix friends with business, or maybe they don’t want to complicate our book club relationships.

But I actually think there’s a different reason: I don’t think it ever even occurred to them. I don’t think it ever crossed their minds that they could use us, women that they knew, liked, and trusted. It’s because we were too familiar to them.

In his article “Why You Need To Move Away From Your Home Town,” Isaac Morehouse, Founder & CEO of Praxis says that in our own home town, people perceive us through the lens of our perceived past. They’re too familiar with our own humanity. “Introduce a speaker from next door, and no matter how much they know about the topic at hand, few will be moved and impressed. Fly someone in from the next city and they’ll get attention no matter what they say.”

I know that’s true because I’ve experienced it. Why else would my friends spend close to six figures (an exorbitant amount by any measure) to write and publish their books with someone else? Could it be that it’s because their contact was from New York, the Oz of the publishing perception?

Which brings us to your book

The people who know you best may not be the best measure for what you have to offer. And it doesn’t matter because they aren’t your audience! Your audience is the world, not your home town.

You know what you’ve been through, what you’ve learned, what you’ve developed, and you know how those things can benefit others. Don’t wait for the people you know to bless it. They may know you’re writing a book and never even ask you about it. And that’s okay because it’s not for them. It can actually be kind of freeing to know that you don’t have to be grilled about what you’re doing and why. You can be in your normal everyday situations, like my book club, and you don’t have to worry about getting anyone’s approval or wonder if they like it, which for many of us translates to “Do they like ME?”

So take your message, get it out of your head, get it down on paper, and get it out to the world where it can do its work to change lives, save lives, or transform society.

Be a prophet to the world, not your home town.