As promised, here is my last interview from Mount Hermon. I met Mick two years ago through my friend Jeanne. Besides just being an all-around nice guy, I was struck by his authenticity and genuine interest in people. At the time, I was feeling overwhelmed and way out of my league. I met with Mick to ask my naive little questions, and he made me feel like I was just as important as the accomplished (and published!) writers around me. As I've gotten to know Mick better through reading his blog, I also appreciate his challenging insights and thought-provoking comments. I hope you enjoy getting to know him better as well.
Editor, married for 6 years, has 2 girls, been writing since age 17, currently resides in Colorado Springs, CO
How has your job as an editor impacted your spiritual life?
Just as a composer creates an emotional tone, I like to think I help create an emotional tone within an authors’ work. My passion is to guide the message of other writers into its greatest form, helping draw out the greatest ability to connect. This process is all the better if the writer is someone who understands that and gets the spiritual implications. As an editor, I am humbled to be entrusted with the task of guiding these authors. It’s almost like the role of a pastor—which is scary when I think about incurring the judgment of James 3:1 (“Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly”). But in Christian books, we are all teachers in some respect. It’s a heavy responsibility to stand before God with that. Yet this process of helping writers see what they’re missing grows me because I have to hone in on the core of the writer’s message and help them streamline their words so the reader connects quickly. Practicing this teaches me how to stay in the moment. It translates into efficiency in life—with conversations, emails and phone calls, in prayer or Bible reading time, just get to the core issue. But in order to do that, I can’t rush ahead of God. I have to stay on my knees to receive guidance. Overall, I think being an editor has made me do this more with gratitude and humility.
Palm Sunday celebrates the entry of Christ into Jerusalem. How do you celebrate His entry into your life?
My life forever changed when we had kids. I became a different person, particularly as I learned about humility. Christ was hailed as the great leader who would lead everyone into great power, but he rode in on a donkey on a road paved with palm branches and coats - the only things the people had. My kids serve as a constant reminder to me that I am not all that. We don’t all have these huge things to offer to God. I try to enjoy Him in what He is already doing. I celebrate that with my kids, telling them what I feel about them. I’m also keeping journals for my daughters about what God has done in our lives. I try to focus on humility.
You’ve talked a lot about humility. What brought you to this focus?
My cursed pride, of course! (Laughs.) Pride is one of the things that keeps us from experiencing the true spiritual gifts and rewards that God has for us, that he wants us to understand. We can’t experience everything He has for us unless we come with open hands. Pride makes up two of the three great sins, and yet we don’t focus on it much. We think we have to be strong (this victorious Christian living concept), and we use that as a license to be prideful. We need a willingness to be humble before God and others, otherwise you will never get past that starting point. I constantly need that reminder. The other part is that you give yourself worth from where God is leading. Your self worth is given to you through God’s work in real life, so when you’re trying to get it from this false sense of confidence - or whatever - that’s not really where you need to be. Ironically, God is a humble God. He came to us as a man, and we are to accept him willingly in the same spirit He had. The exciting part is we can come to Him directly. He wants to be a part of us, to fill us, and that gives us so much self- confidence. We need that connection to see how He sees us. For me, that’s the beginning of everything.
At this point in the conference, a sense of weariness is often setting in. How do you keep from getting weary?
I never have a problem keeping interested when I’m connecting, when I’m really getting at what the core of the message is with an author. It is tiresome when most of us are introverts, and yet we’re talking all day long and being “on” all the time. But I deal with it by not being “on” (again, related to humility thing) and being honest connecting with people. You don’t have to have this facade all the time. Having a good time is not tiring. I try to stay relaxed and in the moment. I must constantly remind myself, but it’s gotten easier. And that sustains you: love people, learn to listen and connect with them. That’s energizing.
As Christians, particularly Christian writers, we sometimes tend to be inwardly focused on our circle of like-minded people. Why do we create these Christian bubbles?
We’re strangers; we’re not accepted in this world and Jesus’ radical message is off-putting. It’s hard to be out in the world and be pushing - worse yet, peddling - the Gospel. We come to places like Christian conferences to refuel and recharge. That’s not bad; we need to do that. However, we also need to be aware that where we live gives the world a perception of who we are. If we isolate ourselves and don’t have a lot of contact with those who aren’t Christians, we create an impression that we don’t like non-Christians.
So, how do you and I make a change in that perception?
Do it personally. Be humble and grateful. We trust God that we can go out and have an impact through how He has gifted us and through our personalities. By employing these things he’s given us and within community, we become the hands and feet of God. We then use our restorative times (like Christian conferences) to actually equip us to then go back out. That requires trusting Him that He will be there. We don’t have to be afraid to go out and say what needs to be said because we are equipped with the Holy Spirit. We often think it’s presumptuous to say the Holy Spirit spoke to me, but that’s not true. He speaks to every Christian and employs us to spread the gospel to everyone. We don’t believe it happens because we aren’t actively doing it. But with just doing it, we take baby steps forward.
Photo: Me, Leslie, Jeanne, Mick, Bekah, Madison (2005) Credit: stolen and used without permission from Jeanne although I think TJ actually took the picture!