Rabid Fun

John Cowart's Daily Journal: A befuddled ordinary Christian looks for spiritual realities in day to day living.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Process & Product

When one of our children was born, I stood in the delivery room with Ginny holding her hand.

There’s a reason why they used to have expectant fathers stay outside in a waiting room.

But, I vividly remember one thing about the birth; at one point, Ginny screamed, “Get this damn thing out of me!”

Here, for months she’d talked about the little baby. She stopped smoking, gave up coffee and tea, went for prenatal exams, took vitamins, prepared baby clothes, loved the baby — but there came a time when she called that much anticipated and much loved baby a “Damn Thing”.

This morning I can identify with that.

That’s how I’m regarding my Fire History book.

After working on it for ages (this is an updated second edition of a book I originally wrote in 1986) I’m ready to be done with the damn thing.

I want it out. Finished. Done with.

Recently I’ve become so obsessed with the end product — the finished, printed, bound book — that the process of making it has become a frustration.

From past experience with other books, I know there always comes a point when I get to hate the very thought of writing. Once when some preacher interviewed me on his television show about one of my books, I told the viewers (an audience which he said numbered upwards of 20 million people) I told the viewers, “I hate this book”.

In fact, I’d relaxed in the course of the interview so I may well have actually said, “I hate this damn book”.

He never asked me to appear on his show again.

I’m not much of a book salesman.

Anyhow, yesterday I realized that I’ve become so focused on the product that I’m sinning in the process. I’ve neglected household duties, ignored Ginny, put aside Christmas projects, turned down invitations from friends, alienated family… Two people called me this week hinting they needed my attention. I played dense. I suppose if they’d come right out and said, “John, I need your help with …” I would have set aside my work and gone to help.

But since they only hinted, I pretended not to hear the need in their voices.

By letting myself become so product-oriented, I’m spoiling the very process which produces the joy.

Yes, I know that product-oriented men accomplish great temporal things. By Whatever Means Necessary becomes their motto. Alexander The Great did not build an empire by fretting over the morality of his methods.

He just got it done.

And, then he wept that there were no more worlds to conquer and drank himself to death.

As a Christian I should remember that God is more interested in my process than my product. The end result of all things is in His hand and under His control. Our eventual arrival in Heaven is not a goal, it’s a byproduct.

Just as babies are.

Maybe it’s just a guy thing, but while I have great interest in the process of sex, the concept of baby never enters my mind. Process and product are very different things.

Like all guys who are honest would say, I looked at that baby Ginny cradled in her arms and wondered, “Where did that come from”?


I’ve decided to slow down on the process of writing this fire history so that I can enjoy this process more. I’ve been putting in 18-hour days and being a bear the rest of the time. Yesterday I realized that my work is causing more frustration in me than joy.

For God only knows what reason, I’ve been obsessed with the idea that I’ve GOT TO FINISH this book before Christmas.


What is it that drives me? What compels me when the timetable for publishing the end product is an arbitrary goal I set myself in the first place?

It’s not like there are lines of starving children languishing as they wait for my fire history book to come off the press. The world hardly needs my book desperately.

If I never finish the thing, if I stopped work on it altogether, who will notice? Maybe Ginny and my immediate family would notice — and they’re likely to be relieved.

It is doing the work in harmony with Christ that’s important. When I steamroll over everything and everybody pressing toward my goal of a finished product, I loose peace and joy in the very work I’m doing. …

Which, in essence, is carving an idol.

A little idol with red cover and pages

Thou shalt have no other gods…


I forgot.

But, this thing I’ making, it’s so important, it’s so interesting. It’s so me.

I haven’t looked up chapter and verse, but as I recall, after He rose from the dead, some women were going somewhere along a road to be with the disciples and before they got to where they were going something happened.

It’s one of the most important things told in the whole Bible:

“As they went forth to tell… Behold, Jesus met them”.

As they went forth…


Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info
posted by John Cowart @ 6:19 AM


At 4:33 AM, Blogger Amrita said...

Take it easy John, don 't stress yourself

At 7:05 PM, Blogger agoodlistener said...

Hmmm. I decided to spend Christmas week vacation working on the third edition of my textbook. No One is making me do it. It's not due to the publisher until March. I just know if I don't get cracking soon, it won't happen. Glad you decided to give yourself permission to chill a bit.


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