Today is part 2 of our incredible interview with Jeff Goins. I’ve listened to it a few times, and every time it gets better. Seriously. If you missed part 1, find it here. Since we recorded using google+ and screen capture, the video quality obviously isn’t state of the art. So, if you just want the audio, you can download the entire podcast here (right click to download it). Like yesterday, you can read his interview the end of this post.
You have a cool relationship with the Lord and you can see it in your writing, but it isn’t over-the-top. How does following Jesus impact your writing?
Yeah, it certainly forms my whole worldview. My faith is important, and hopefully flavors everything that I write. Certainly, I try to embody, both in how I write and how I live my life, generosity and compassion and these different characteristics that we find in Jesus in the Scripture.
The thing I try to do with writing is to not be necessarily overt and explicit about my faith, but at the same time, not shy away from it. And the reason for that is, I’m not trying to prove anything or make a certain point, I just want my art to be judged as art.
Everyone knows the story about this girl or guy who gets up and sings for their church choir and it is just awful. But they’re singing about God, and so everyone comes up to them and says great job.
You know I’ve been in circumstances like that, and I don’t like this weird dichotomy we have between faith and culture, which is a new thing historically. I think faith is supposed to have an impact on culture and culture should have an impact on how what we believe interacts with the world.
So I want somebody, Christian or not, to be touched by my art in some way. And ultimately I want to connect them with that same hope I have. But that initial judgment call, I want it to be on the face value of the art.
In other words I want to prove that I have something to say by virtue of how I say it, not what the subject is. So that if it’s bad, people will just say this is bad, even if it’s about Jesus. But if it’s good…it’s good.
I love what Madeline April says in her book, Walking on Water. “There’s no such thing as Christian art. There is good art and there is bad art. Good art is inherently Christian because it embodies the creative nature of the Creator.
So if you create good art, it will be Christian whether you are a believer or not. I love that idea.
One of the big things you talk about in building a platform is serving people and going out of your way to help others. And it’s interesting because you think, “building a platform” I need to be pointing to me because I want people to pay attention to me. So where did you come up with that idea and how has it played out for you?
I don’t know that I came up with it. I think that anybody who has influence, and it is not short lived, they understand that a platform is people. It is not a stage or career or a blog. It is people who are giving you their trust and attention for you to communicate what you have to say.
If you whiddle, it is people coming to your shop and finding your little statues or whatever.
If you’re a musician it is people coming to your concerts and paying money to see you play.
I think a great example of that is this: I listened to this small little punk band in college. We went and heard them one night, and there were maybe 200 or 300 people at the show that night. But everyone there was a fan, a hard core fane.
On the last song, it was the number 1 hit that everybody knew and their encore, they asked everyone to come up on stage with them. And they played the song. It got so crazy! People were moving around, turning into each other, and eventually the band got pushed off the stage.
And the band is no longer playing, but everybody is jumping and screaming the words to the song.
I think a really good platform is like that. You create art for the sake of touching people, not for the sake of you being elevated. And there comes a point when the art brings the audience on stage and actually pushes you off and it is still sustained. That is real art, and that’s not about you building an audience around your personality.
That’s what I’m interested in doing. I’m interested in leaving an impact on the world. Hopefully, and I hope I don’t come across as disingenuous, somebody will push me off the stage and someone will keep singing my songs and people will keep reading those words.
And if you look at authors and artists who have left a legacy on the world, I think you see that. They’re gone and their art remains. That is the type of life that I hope to live, creatively and every other aspect of life.
What would you say to those you are trying to figure out what it means to “Live Fully,” but are not sure what their first steps should be. What would you say?
I think I would say, “give your life away.” I think the paradox of life is that if you try to keep your life you lose it. And if you give it away you find it. And I’ve found that to be true.
I’ve traveled a lot and I’ve worked for a missions organization and I’ve been involved in some local homeless outreach. I’m a pretty self-absorbed person and I find that I’m never satisfied when I’m constantly pursuing my own satisfaction.
Life started to get interesting for me when I started to give away as much as I possibly could. When I met this group of homeless people in downtown Nashville, they were sleeping on the streets without blankets and I had 15 at home that I wasn’t using.
When I started taking all of the blankets from my house and giving them to people who didn’t have any, something started to happen in me that had never happened before. There was this bubbling up of excitement and passion and I realized that as I stopped paying attention to me and started focusing on others, how much more fulfilling life was.
Doing that without paying attention to your own personal health can be unhealthy. You can do anything to an extreme. But I’ve found that if you want to live a full life, and you don’t know where to begin, start with other people. Start with listening, with finding ways to serve in some small way.
As you make stuff not about you, I think you brush up against this paradox which says that life is about other people. It is meant to be lived in community, and as you find ways to make your life about others I think you find the most satisfaction from it.