Issue No. 392 of Your Weekly Staff Meeting asks—should you write a book? Read how Nancy Nelson answered that question. Powerful! And this reminder: click here to download free resources from the 20 management buckets (core competencies) and check out the links on these pages for my recent book reviews.
You Should Write a Book!
“You should write a book!” As my clients, friends, and family know—I’ve repeated that mandate to colleagues hundreds of times over the years. It’s often in response to my hearing a truly original leadership thought, a management nugget, or a poignant story.
Another favorite line: “That would make a great chapter title in your book!”
Several years ago Nancy Nelson shared a personal story during a brief conversation with Makoto Fujimura, the noted artist and author, who asked her, “Have you ever thought of writing a book?” Nancy admitted she had been praying about it, but was reluctant, so Fujimura inspired her with this:
“…these stories are a sacred trust from God. They are not to be kept to yourself but have been given to you to be shared.”
Thus Stories of Sheer Pure Grace was born—and trust me—heaven came down and emboldened Nancy to share 50 stories (50!) of remarkable insights into God at work in her life and the lives of others. This book is now on my Top-10 Book List for 2018.
Nancy (a long-time friend and fellow presenter in a board governance training program), writes “This collection is the result of sitting at the keyboard each morning for two months and praying, ‘Holy Spirit, wordsmith through me these stories so they bring honor and glory to God.’” He did and they do.
“…these Stories of Sheer Pure Grace are all framed by someone praying,” notes Nancy. Whew! Just a few chapters in, I confessed to being a spiritual midget. Nancy prays! Friends pray! Co-workers prayed! The board prayed! Her children prayed! Her grandchildren prayed! The results—stunning!
Nancy headlines each story of sheer pure grace with a unique characteristic of God: The Revealing Wordsmith, The Master Planner, The “Wooer,” The Hijacker, The King of Hoopla, Prazable, The Territory Enlarger, The Strategic J.J., The Dog Catcher, The Culture Changer, and The Promise Keeper. (There are 39 more!)
These powerful three- and four-page narratives of God’s grace will touch your soul—and your tear ducts—as you walk through this humble and gifted woman’s span of numerous professional careers, including nearly 40 years at Warm Beach Camp and Conference Center in Washington State. Nancy has the chops to be a CEO, but she opted for making other CEOs look good as the key leader in food service, HR, and fund development.
When reading books, I read with a pen (to slow me down) and make notes in the front of each book—noting memorable phrases and page numbers. I made 25 notes—but I could have made 200. Some of my favorites:
• Nancy’s favorite name for God: Abba. Read why.
• Quoting Dutch Sheets, “We humans are into microwaving and God is into marinating.”
• Hosting a charitable foundation staff for lunch at Warm Beach Camp, Nancy directed them to the downstairs restrooms—sadly in need of renovation and relocating upstairs. (The grant proposal followed!)
• How Mrs. Lemke (second grade teacher to Nancy’s son) responded to Thad’s appreciative comments four years later. “Don’t thank me, Thad, thank God. You don’t know how many times I sat in your chair before and after school and prayed for God to help you learn how to read.”
• When Warm Beach Camp agreed to serve children of incarcerated parents, Nancy noted, “…I found myself crowded into a tiny living room with a handful of plain, ordinary people who seemed to have dreams out of proportion to their means.” (Surprise: God answered their prayers.)
• After the camp staff read The Prayer of Jabez, Nancy realized: “God funds what HE wants done!” (Read Amos 5:22-24 in The Message. It begins, “I’m sick of your fund-raising schemes…” Yikes!)
• To complete her master’s degree at UCLA in dietetic/nutrition, Nancy conducted a research project with expectant mothers in Tijuana, Mexico. Enjoy this must-read story on God as “The Stage Director,” and LOL when you read the response of the faculty committee when they learned Nancy’s research had been published in the Mexican Journal of Nutrition!
They say you can’t tell a book by its cover—but I disagree. Makoto Fujimura’s striking work, Charis-Kairos (The Tears of Christ, 2017), graces Stories of Sheer Pure Grace. Amazing—on two levels: 1) That this artist would gift his work for a paperback cover (the original is Japanese Nihonga art—mineral pigments and gold on Belgium linen), and 2) That Nancy would have the chutzpah to ask for the gift. (Attention Fundraisers: This book is a short course in the art of asking.)
Example: In Chapter 23, “The Rescuer,” Nancy notes that King Jehoshaphat (2 Chronicles 20) called for a nationwide time of fasting and prayer. That inspired the Warm Beach team to truthfully alert donors to a financial crisis. The donor appeal came to be known as the “Jehoshaphat Letter” and Nancy notes, “It was the kind of crisis letter an organization can only send out once in its history.”
On the back cover is a nickel-sized head shot of Eugene Peterson, along with his endorsement of this special, special book. Wow! The candid photo captures Peterson laughing his head off—and Nancy explains their connection and her deep appreciation for The Message.
She quotes from Eugene Peterson’s introduction to 1st and 2nd Samuel in the Old Testament, “…as we submit our lives to what we read, we find that we are not being led to see God in our stories but to see our stories in God’s. God is the larger context and plot in which our stories find themselves.” Then Nancy adds, “And like 1st and 2nd Samuel, these Stories of Sheer Pure Grace are all framed by someone praying.”
And here’s a gut check: Eugene Peterson notes in his introduction to 1st and 2nd Samuel, “We do violence to the biblical revelation when we ‘use’ it for what we can get out of it or what we think will provide color and spice to our otherwise bland lives. That results in a kind of ‘boutique spirituality’—God as decoration, God as enhancement. The Samuel narrative will not allow that.”
Oh, my. I wish I had space to chronicle another dozen bullet points of powerful answers to prayers—but that would require a holy spoiler alert! Order two books and inspire a friend or colleague to experience sheer pure grace.
To order from Amazon, click on the title for Stories of Sheer Pure Grace, by Nancy L. Nelson.
YOUR WEEKLY STAFF MEETING QUESTIONS:
1) Nancy is so, so transparent. She credits the TrueFace team (Bruce McNicol, Bill Thrall, and John Lynch) and their book, The Cure, for helping her understand deep insights. Nancy writes, “…it’s love, usually applied by others, that is the solvent that helps us remove our masks so that our faces can become radiant.” Have you read The Cure?
2) So...should we write a book? Should you write a book? Is there a creative way (per Nancy Nelson’s approach) to tell our organization’s story—yet infuse the narrative with page-turning drama, vulnerable stories, powerful answers to prayer, and inspirational insights? If you’re in—we’ll meet at Starbucks tomorrow to map out the plan.
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The Book Bucket chapter in Mastering the Management Buckets encourages leaders to be readers and to avoid “Management-by-Bestseller Syndrome” and to mentor your team members with niche books (like Stories of Sheer Pure Grace, by Nancy Nelson).
Brian Ogne, one of the most enthusiastic camp and conference center directors I’ve ever met, once asked his grandfather if he’d like a special book for Christmas. His granddad replied, “Why would I need another book? I already have one!”
Don’t be like Brian’s grandpa!
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Once you have your book written, you may need a sales and branding strategy. If so, click here for a free 57-page eBook on ministry branding, by Jason Pearson at Pearpod Media.
For more on branding your programs, products, and services, order the second edition workbook, Mastering the Management Buckets Workbook: Management Tools, Templates and Tips From John Pearson. Order here on Amazon.
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JASON PEARSON: UNEXPECTED CREATIVE. Looking for new ways to communicate your mission—with messages that won’t be lost in the sea of kitten videos and fake news? Check out the innovative work from Pearpod Media (branding, digital, print, and video). Click here.
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