My super-talented husband, Nick Chiles, recently realized his dream of being a New York Times best-selling author when a book he wrote with Kirk Franklin, The Blueprint: A Plan for Living Above Life’s Storms, hit the Times’ Best Selling Hard Cover Advice list. Words can’t describe how proud I am of my man, not only for this fantastic accomplishment (perspective: with literally tens of thousands of books published each year, earning one spot on a list of 20 books on a New York Times best seller’s list is truly like winning the lottery), but for the knowledge and wisdom he was able to help Kirk capture in the pages of The Blueprint. I don’t count myself as a religious person—I know Jesus and consider myself to be spiritual, but I have serious issues with “church.” Still, I really appreciate the perspective Kirk brings to life’s lessons. I was already a HUGE fan of his music, but the truth Kirk speaks in his book really made me think. Today, I share with you one of my favorite passages from The Blueprint.
So shortly after arriving on Planet Earth, we begin preparing for the hamster’s wheel. Life becomes the pursuit of happiness and happenings marked by accomplishments and awards. From your first child’s baptism to your mother’s funeral. Then you retire with your little pension and 401(k) in place, grow older, and rest your head, only to return to the ground. Just part of the circle of life. But life was never meant to be a wheel. And you, my friend, are not a hamster.
And it was never meant to center on you. When we focus first and most on ourselves, it should be no surprise that our country—the richest and most influential one on the planet—is plagued by vanity, pride, ego, and arrogance. A preacher who says, “God wants you to have it all” is a danger to all who hears him. He ignores the full message of Scripture and misleads the sheep.
Something happened to me in 2002 that made me realize I had managed to get to a different place, to step off that hamster’s wheel by focusing on the important things. I had released an album that year called The Rebirth of Kirk Franklin that had received such great reviews and accolades in the gospel community that everybody was calling it the classic album of Kirk Franklin’s career. But when the Grammy Award nominations came out, my name wasn’t on the list. The Rebirth had not been nominated. Everybody around me was extremely upset, including my record company. I had a phone call with the record company executives, who are Christians. I said to them, “It’s cool that I wasn’t nominated. That’s not why we do what we do.”
I realized I had become hungry for real things, meaningful things, not these tangible, material things. The album had gone platinum and was considered a classic, but here was a lesson on how you never should put too much value in the things the world puts value in. You can pay honor to them, but never let them make you become a slave to them. Sure, I would have liked to have been recognized in that way, but I wasn’t going to let that one experience own me. By my reaction, I realized something in me was changing.
These days everybody wants to get paid; everybody want to be the star. And no one wants to be in the supporting cast. Not surprisingly, that kind of self-absorbed “me” leads to a society in which major corporate CEOs spend millions to redecorate their offices while at the same time they are laying off hundreds of employees. When you make “you” the center of life, your motives will be selfish. And others will be affected, kicked to the curb as you strive to either fulfill or overcome the words spoken during your youth. But at the end of the game—even with all the accomplishments and material gains—the question still remains: What have you really gained? And what did you lose to gain it? As a wise man once asked, What does it profit us to gain the whole world if we lose our souls? (Mark 8:36).
The Blueprint: A Plan for Living Above Life's Storms, by Kirk Franklin, with Nick Chiles, is available wherever books are sold. Click the picture to order a copy on Amazon.com.