The first day of the Story conference, a conference “for the creative class,” left me feeling a bit of hipster vertigo. Although my husband and I are both writers, we tend to shy away from people who classify themselves as “creatives.” We best like hanging out with engineers, so we can play the role of the creative kooks with limited competition.
Can you picture a conference created by engineers for engineers? I’m imagining clearly labeled schedules, a lot of khaki and polo shirts, and talks punctuated by subpoints and graphs.
Now picture the opposite of that – a conference created by “creatives” for “creatives,” and you have the Story conference. A schedule that did not actually include who was speaking when. Cider served in the lobby by a mustachioed unicyclist. Performance artists creeping in the corners. Enough young men in skinny jeans to fill a hundred years of hipster pin-up calendars.
It was not exactly my thing. (With the exception of the mustachioed unicyclist cider server. I’d like him to ride by my house at 3 pm every day.) But two speakers, the very last two, resonated with me. My coworker already blogged about what Kyle Idelman had to say, so you can read about that here.
The other speaker was Phil Vischer, the creator of Veggie Tales and Bob the Tomato. (When he got excited during his talk, he’d start to sound suspiciously like Bob.)
Phil was an ambitious guy – he started out wondering, “What’s the one big thing I’m going to do for God during my life?” He had a passion for teaching children and came up with a tomato and a cucumber to battle the evils of Hollywood. He eventually thought his God-given mission in life was to create the Christian Disneyland. He had success after success, which led him to believe God was leading him in that direction.
But then in 2003, everything came crashing to the ground when Veggie Tales went bankrupt and the rights to everything he worked to create was sold at a public auction, even Bob. So here follow my notes on what Phil learned from this crisis in his life.
- Sometimes we think God wants from us what we actually want. When we’re trying to figure out what we can “do” for God, such as creating the next Disneyland, our answers reveal more about what we think we need in our lives to be valuable. Phil’s father left their family when he was a little boy. Since that time, he’s still grappling with trying to earn His heavenly Father’s love – to be worthy enough not to be left.
- Once you’ve said, “God, here’s what I’m going to do for you,” you’ve turned the relationship upside-down. If we’ve given our lives to Christ, then what we’re doing in 5 years or 10 years or 15 years is really none of our business. God doesn’t need our ambitious long-term business plans to accomplish great things, he needs us to obey Him today.
- When we’re focused on outcomes, we get stress, not fruit. When we have big ambitions (even if they’re “for God”), we tend to focus on outcomes rather than on obedience to God. There is no stress if we leave the outcome in God’s hands. Do we have peace, patience, kindness, goodness and self-control – the fruit of the Holy Spirit? Or do we have stress?
And my favorite point of all…
- Are we willing to do nothing for God? If not, it’s religion and ego-scratching. We must find our identity in Christ so our work doesn’t come out of our wounds from the past or our ego, but from Christ.