Dare To Lift Your Light Higher—Increase Your Influence and Joy Part 7March 13, 2014
by Rick Renner
Editor’s Note: This article is Part 7 of Rick’s continuing series “Lift Your Light Higher” in which he teaches in-depth from Matthew 5:14-16 and shares from his own experiences of respecting the gift of God within and stepping out of the shadows to allow that gift to shine and bless others.
Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. — Matthew 5:15
Last time, I shared with you the story of a book I wrote in my youth. God was using me even then in the gifts He’d given me to teach and to write. I was utilizing those gifts to the best of my ability at the time – and when I sent my manuscript to a well-known, scholarly minister, he liked what he saw. That minister commended me and complimented my work – until he discovered I was only 18 years old (I was actually 17 at the time I wrote the book!) Then he lambasted me to the point I wanted to hide the gifts God had given me instead of using them out in the open to help and bless others. In fact, I threw every copy of that manuscript away that I had in my possession!
Isn’t it amazing how one experience like that can affect your obedience to God if you allow it? I shared in my previous article that for years after that very traumatic experience, every time I thought about writing something else, in my mind I’d hear that minister say, Who do you think you are! And I would back away from using my gifts.
For a long time, those abilities lay dormant “under a bushel” (see Matthew 5:15). They certainly weren’t being lifted up to shine light and blessing on anyone else’s life. But then, years later, God sent someone into my life who rekindled the light in my lamp and encouraged me to lift it back up once again so that others could see what the Lord wanted them to see through my gifts and calling.
More than 30 years ago – just a few short years after that first minister chastised me for using my gifts and talents – another well-known minister invited me to speak at his church. Denise and I were just starting out in the ministry, and this man pastored one of the largest churches in the United States at the time. I was both excited and nervous as I preached. The minister liked what he heard, so he asked me to come back and teach a seminar. At the end of that seminar, he said to me, “This message will change people’s lives. You need to put this in a book.” Well, I had known for years that I was supposed to write books — but the only time I’d written one before had not been a very good experience!
However, this pastor kept urging me, “You need to write a book!” And his encouragement set me free to once again develop my gift for writing.
Praise God for godly encouragement! I learned something very important from those two very different experiences: Our words have power either to hinder others in their callings or to free them to utilize their God-given abilities.
After that positive encounter with the minister who’d invited me to speak at his church, I said to Denise, “I’m going to write a book.” Well, back in those days, there were no laptop computers; all we had were desktop computers, and I had a Macintosh that included a bag to carry it. I took that big computer with me everywhere I went, carrying it over my shoulder like a backpack. And everywhere I’d go, I’d lug that computer with me, unload it in my hotel rooms, and sit down to write.
Finally, that book was written. Denise and I didn’t have a lot of money, but because I’m so impacted by the way things look, I hired a good graphic designer who designed a great-looking cover. So my book had great content and a great cover – and soon it was time to print it. I said to Denise, “Let’s print a bunch of them!” So we took all the money we had and printed and printed and printed! I was so excited that I went to the printer to look at my book as it rolled through the printing press. I touched the pages when they were dry enough to handle. Then it was time to get it into the hands of those who needed it.
So there I was with boxes and boxes of books – thousands of them. But I couldn’t stop there; I had to find a way to distribute them to people who would benefit from them. Yet this is exactly the place where so many stop; that’s as far as they lift their lamp. They get the books, but they don’t know what to do with them. So those books end up in a basement or garage – books that have the power to change people’s lives. Yet because those ministers don’t take the next step, their light doesn’t go very far. They might distribute a few copies to people in their congregation or to friends – but their light reaches just a few people “around the table.”
Make the Effort To Extend Your Influence
I wasn’t satisfied with touching just a few people with the gift and calling of God on my life to write – so I set out to sell my books! I said to Denise, “I’m going to buy a full-page ad in every major charismatic publication I can find in the United States.” And I began designing the advertisement. At the top of the ad, I wrote in big letters: “The Book You’ve Been Waiting For!”
I was so excited about this advertising campaign – that is, until I saw the first published ads. When I saw those words in print – “The Book You’ve Been Waiting For!” – I winced with embarrassment. I remember thinking, My gosh, that is so arrogant! I was so embarrassed, in fact, that I wanted to crawl under a bushel! No one had to try to put my light out – I was willing to smother it myself!
People would say to me, “Rick, I saw your ad,” and I’d sort of hold my breath and gasp for air. But do you know what happened? All over America, people began to call in and write requesting my book! And it’s the most amazing thing — in 30 days’ time, every single one of those thousands of books was gone. In 30 days, my book became a bestseller.
Denise and I couldn’t handle fulfilling all those book orders on our own. It was then that I hired my mother to work for the ministry; she was our first employee. After that, I was very encouraged to write my next book! And the exact same thing happened: Everyone who bought the first book wanted the second one! Then those who bought the second book also bought the third one.
Since that time I’ve written more than 30 books, including bestsellers Dressed To Kill, Sparkling Gems From the Greek, and A Light in Darkness, Volume One, all of which have had multiple printings. I receive letters and comments every day about how my books are blessing people’s lives all over the world.
But what if I hadn’t lifted my light higher than the first book I wrote at 17 that became “hidden under a bushel.” Or what if I’d only written a couple of books and then just stored them away because I didn’t know how to take the next step. What if I’d failed to distribute my books to those who would benefit from them and be encouraged to lift their own lights higher? I followed through on what I’d written because I believed in my gift and in what God had called me to do. And I still do!
Obedience is not for the lazy or fainthearted! Next time, we’ll look more in-depth at how one step of obedience always leads to the next step in God’s plan for your life. Don’t miss it!