You had dreams of reaching thousands with your Christian book. You might have dreamed of reaching tens of thousands, or even hundreds of thousands. But your book barely sold.
I’ve been there.
This publishing company has released three books. To date, all three have produced financial losses. Having a professional background in investment management prior to pursuing this calling, it would be easy for me to view the financial losses as failures. In fact, that’s exactly how I have viewed it until today.
It’s not that I set out just to generate financial returns by publishing Christian ministry material. There are probably easier ways to make money. But there is a business aspect to publishing books. Barring some source of external funding, you have to find a way to do it profitably in order to keep going.
This is why I have always found the low success rate for Christian authors to be so perplexing. Why would God gift, call, and anoint a Christian author to carry a message if He knew they would fail financially?
The Parable of the Talents may give us some insight. In that parable, the master, who represents the Lord, gives out some bags of gold. He actually “entrusts” them to His servants. The servants represent us, the followers of Jesus.
It’s a very well-known parable, and I’ve read it many times myself. But I saw something in there this morning that I’ve never seen before.
First, I’d like to note my position that this parable is not about money management any more than the prodigal son parable is about how to be a good earthly father, son, or brother. Money is one of many things God entrusts to us, and he expects us to invest everything for His kingdom. So, the parable has application for our handling of money, but it is not primarily about our handling of money.
The way we handle our knowledge of God is much more important. After all, what has greater value than our faith? Most people in the world do not have this same knowledge, and the Bible tells us that it is worth more than gold.
So, the treasure that matters to God, ultimately, is human souls. The way we “earn” such returns is through the work of ministry: witnessing, teaching, equipping, giving, operating in our spiritual gifts—basically using every natural and supernatural resource He gives us in order to further His kingdom.
Here’s the part that I never understood until today. Let’s say, for example, that I write a book to share testimony and teaching about a spiritual gift. If one other person asks for and receives that spiritual gift after reading the book, and then fans the gift into flame, that is a 100% return on investment!
So if we can just reach one other person with the message God has given us, then God is ecstatic, and He will entrust much more to us.
Now, it could take a lot of time and effort to reach that first one. That is the time when our goodness and faithfulness are tested.
But be encouraged. If you have reached just one other person, you’ve passed the test! You’ve gotten the 100% return. God has called you good and faithful, and He’s excited to entrust you with more.
“But wait a second…,” you may object, “…that can’t be all it means.”
If you read verse 27 carefully, you’ll see that the wicked and lazy servant was not scolded for getting a lower return than the others. Neither was he scolded for producing losses. In other words, he wasn’t scolded for trying and failing.
Instead, this servant was scolded for doing nothing. Absolutely nothing! He didn’t even take the time and effort to put the money in the bank. He was truly a wicked and lazy servant.
Sadly, he was also a fearful servant who had a wrong view of God. Look closely at his statements in verses 24 and 25 and you should see what I mean. He seems to have viewed God as a demanding tyrant who was completely selfish. He definitely did not view God as merciful, generous, loving, or forgiving.
Don’t let a wrong view of God cause you to feel like you haven’t done enough, or to think that you have somehow failed. Don’t let an enemy sow seeds of distrust toward your good and loving Father.
If you have gone through the process of writing, producing, and publishing a Christian book, you’re definitely not wicked or lazy. And if God was able to encourage and bless at least one other person through your book, it’s a home run investment for Him!
You are blessed, and He’s happy to share the Kingdom with you. Keep going, and He will keep giving you more.
His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’ – Matthew 25:23 (NIV)
UPDATE 10/1/2020: This article was originally written in March of 2020. Since the time of publication, God has blessed us with strategies that allow us to reach people daily with our books while also turning a profit. I thought that might be good encouragement for those reading. Sometimes you have to walk through pain and difficulty to get to the blessing. If you need a Christian book publisher please click on this link. We partner with Christian authors to help them promote and market their books.