A Manifesto

Aug 2, 2016

You remember the movie Jerry McGuire, yes? Tom Cruise. Cuba Gooding Jr.. “Show me the money!” Jerry’s problems started with a surge of late night inspiration, followed by a passionate drafting of an all-office memo. The next morning, he distributed his revelation. By the end of the week, his world turned upside down.

Call this my late night memo. Manifesto, even. But rather than turn my world upside down, my world finally turned right. 

The idea took shape slowly, like a mountain obscured by clouds but revealed in time. The more time, the more the clouds lifted. The more the clouds lifted, the more I considered it. The more I considered it, the more I wanted to climb it.

Even so, the idea seemed foolish, extreme. So I put it off. An entrepreneur who makes her living as an author and speaker can’t afford to disconnect from the Internet, at least not entirely. The Internet is her bread and butter, the online business card to connect with readers and events, publishers and coaching clients. To disconnect means to die a slow and sure business death.

Everyone knows this, I thought. Heck, I know this

What made it worse was the timing. I’m a few short months away from a book launch. I should be redoubling my efforts and hyper-connecting. A book’s success is all about marketing diligence and careful preplanning, right? I didn’t want my baby to go south before its birth. And surely a complete disconnect from a writer’s primary interface with readers would mean a failure of massive proportions.

And yet the idea became more compelling, beautiful. In spite of my attempts to disregard it, I couldn’t deny it.

I need thisNot “Entrepreneur Michele” or “Author Michele.” Just me.

That girl who can get swallowed up by all the pressure and pursuit and lose sight of what matters most in the achiever-driven busyness of a business.

Thus, mid-June, I disconnected. Completely. I didn’t write fresh blog posts or recycle old content. I allowed the blog to sit dormant, neglected. As a result, traffic dropped by half. Maybe more.

I deleted all social media apps from my phone and devices. At various points, Facebook enticed me emails, showing me my (dwindling) numbers, urging me to reconnect with my “fans.” I changed all passwords to something I couldn’t remember (NOT hard to do). Then I logged out of every account from my browser, making it impossible to reengage without significant effort.

But I didn’t want to go to the effort. I knew this respite wasn’t just good, it was necessary. Besides, I suspected there was something within this one decision that hinted at a complete reorientation, a longterm refocusing and commitment to contemplation, deep work, and rest.

I was right. Today is August 2, 2016. I’m not offering you a nice and neat “3 secrets to a meaningful life,” nor will I legislate my process or force you to swallow my spoonfuls of life medicine. We each must find our own way, discover the right balance of work and rest, connection and disconnect. It will vary based on season and profession and personality.

But I now know this about myself and my path: If I’m going to do what I love to do—what I’m uniquely equipped to do—I can’t be hyperconnected all the time.

My calling—my passion—is to do meaningful work and equip others to do the same.

To lead more complicated conversations around authentic faith and real life.

To tell powerful stories in a way that inspires us to live differently as a result.

To invest deeply in individuals and organizations by identifying and developing their unique message.

The problem is, I cannot source my own well. The fuel for what I do is sourced in my relationship with a real God. In consistent rest. In reading and contemplation, wrestling and writing. If I spend the majority of each day’s hours scanning social media or responding to vast amounts of email, I dehydrate. Just as a well’s bucket must descend to have anything to offer, I must disconnect to dive deep and drink.

In short, I can’t allow the “how” of my calling to eclipse the “heart” of it.

Consider this: Is it possible we’ve confused the two? Is it possible that we’ve poured ourselves into the “how” of what we do to the neglect of pouring into what we do and why we do it?

There is nothing wrong with writing blog posts, connecting with new friends on social media, and developing a solid business strategy that knows how to leverage the powerful tool of the Internet. That’s good business practice.

However, my calling is not to be an Internet Jedi Master nor build a Facebook Dynasty. My gifts are not to churn out products or posts or build a World Domination Email List. And my life’s work is not to be the Forever Champion of Email Inbox Zero.

At times, those tasks are productive means. But they are not the ultimate end. And if the means grow to overshadow the end, then we’ve lost something of the heart of who we are and what we’re called to.

This won’t be the last time I disengage. In fact, I believe you’ll see me do it more often. Not because I care little for what I do, but because I care so much.

At the same time, I don’t plan to abandon blogging, social media or email. I see great value of utilizing those opportunities to the best of my ability.

But they aren’t my “heart.” They’re simply my “how.” And I commit to doing both in proper proportion.

What about you?

{Image Copyright: wiratgasem / 123RF Stock Photo}

38 Comments

  1. Jen

    AMEN!

    Reply
  2. Linda Lochridge Hoenigsberg

    I have definitely missed your name and the thought of your sweet smile coming across my various screens in various formats, but what you did (by unplugging) inspired me and made me think as well. Research shows that the more we consume (read, watch, etc.), the less we “reflect,” that little word that makes all the difference in knowing what the “heart” of it is. Thanks Michele! And welcome back. :o)

    Reply
  3. Rebekah Love Dorris

    Oh yes. This is so ironic. Jerry Jenkins told me to pattern my blog after yours since I have eight kids and mine was drab. Mine still has a long way to go appearance-wise, but I just discovered that my heart is headed the same direction!

    I deactivated my Facebook earlier this year. While I know I need to build a platform for the day I’m ready to launch my writing, I can’t bring myself to resubmerge into the cesspool that it was becoming. Not that there aren’t bright spots – it’s just that I lack the time and stomach to sift through all the drama to find them. I finally bit the bullet and created a FB page for my writing, but now I can’t bring myself to engage on it. A random Twitter post every few days is all I can muster.

    More than build a platform, I need to build a home for my husband and children. More than America needs my posts, she needs my prayers. Although I’m not succeeding at either of those goals like I want, it’s easier when I’m not letting the magnetized Facebook icon pull my thumb over it ten times a day.

    God bless you and the work He’s given you, and thanks for sharing your journey with others!

    Reply
  4. kim

    Michelle, I love your honesty here in sharing and I can’t imagine the struggle of all the feelings while you made this decision. Thanks for setting such a beautiful example for me and letting me know it’s okay to disengage – everything will be there when I get back. And for reminding us that we “can’t allow the “how” of our calling to eclipse the “heart” of it. SO POWERFUL!

    Reply
  5. Jeannie S

    Thank you Michele. It’s so easy to have our lives sucked into the vacuum of the internet instead of living it.
    Prayers for good health and can’t wait to read the new book.

    Reply
  6. Christy

    I’ve missed your posts, but I completely understand the need for the disconnect and rest. Good to hear from you again!

    Reply
  7. Wendy Blight

    Michele, I’m so thankful someone shared this on FB today because your words are where I am right now. I have not written on my blog since April. What a sweet gift the Lord gave me to speak into the very place I am and use you to do it. You have blessed and encouraged me in this hard place. Thank you from the depths of my heart. Ministry is good, but it is hard. Even when we are in the very best place, God calls us out to do work IN us rather than THRU us. That is where I am now. Hard but good.

    Blessings to you,

    Wendy

    Reply
  8. Lauren Gaskill

    “We each must find our own way, discover the right balance of work and rest, connection and disconnect. It will vary based on season and profession and personality.” Yes, so much truth in this dear Michele. I’m so happy to see you’re back, but I’m also SO very glad you could find YOUR way.

    I love your point about confusing the how of ministry with the heart of it (especially when it comes to being an author/speaker). Such a great reminder to myself and so many others. Thank you for this post and for your bravery and honesty. Love you! Hugs!

    Reply
  9. Brenda

    Amen and Amen! I find myself wrestling with the same things….the internet can be used for so many good and powerful things, but I find more often that it distracts me from real life. It’s hard when I have a business on the internet (Etsy) and find myself drifting to Facebook while I’m “working.” So thankful that you unplugged and found some rest, may you do it often! 🙂 (How did anyone survive without the internet? 🙂 ). Oh, yeah, we read books and had face to face relationships with real people… Take care and God bless you! I look forward to your new book….

    Reply
  10. Wendy L Macdonald

    Thank you, Michele, for inspiring us to be moderate with social media. It’s hard to unplug–really hard. But I’ve noticed since I’ve cut back on my “connectedness”, I’m more connected to God. And He’s opening up opportunities I would have missed if I’d been as busy with my blog as I used to be. Yes, He’s got this. We need to let go more. By the way, I loved, loved, loved your book. Count me in as a forever fan of your writing.
    Blessings ~ Wendy

    Reply
  11. Janell Rardon

    Michele,
    With every thing you’ve been through, know that I applaud not only your renewed vigor for caring for yourself and family, but for remaining true to the call. I’ve been in this business/ministry (even tying those two words together seems so very wrong) long enough to know that God can work mightily WITHOUT us being tethered and tied and entangled in “platforms” and “social media strangulation.” BRAVO, Michele. May your words serve as a clarion call to all of us! Love to you and JOY unspeakable and full of glory!!!!

    Reply
  12. Julie Sunne

    Bravo, Michele! We must protect the heart at all costs.

    Reply
  13. Wayne Stiles

    Welcome “back,” Michele. You’ve been missed. But I’m thrilled you’ve got more fuel in the tank now. We all need to exit the freeway now and then. Fumes make terrible fuel. God bless you.

    Reply
  14. Jennie Nichols

    This makes your fans love and respect you even more! Thanks for sharing your journey.

    Reply
  15. Mary Snyder

    proper proportion! That is so important — for me!! It’s essential that I know and understand my limitations — which are many.

    Thank you for living a life out loud and inspiring me to make time to rest. Thank you for just being Michele!

    Reply
    • Michele Cushatt

      I can’t imagine you with any limitations, Mary Snyder. 🙂 And yet we all have them, yes? Proper proportion is the key, which will be different for each of us.

      Reply
  16. Brad Hobbs

    For me Michele, the cherished impact you’ve had on my life has never been a matter of how often you’ve appeared in my news feeds. Rather it’s been a matter of how deep and God-breathed your words have been to my heart. Period.

    Reply
  17. Amy Caton

    So wise. My husband and I have been conversing about this exact topic this week. I love hearing your perspective, it’s so encouraging. And God is faithful! Many blessings to you and your family.

    Reply
  18. Chris Moss

    Profound and insightful, Michelle. Thank you for sharing your gift with us. I treasure your leadership by example, and your insistence that we always start first with the Source. God bless you in your service.

    Reply
  19. Lisa Carroll Popovich

    Michele – first let me tell you how wonderful it is to see a post from you again – I am proud of you for realizing what you needed and for taking the very hard steps of putting yourself first on your priority list for once. While I have been praying for you in these last several weeks, various factors have arisen for me pushing me in a similar direction with some areas of social networks. I thank you for being the impetus in my own journey to recognize that which depletes my soul, my energy, my very joy… leading me on the path to peace and faith in the journey that God and I are crafting together – all for His glory. And from a profoundly selfish place, I missed you Girl! (Hey, I’m a work in progress over here, lol)

    Reply
  20. Tricia

    Welcome back Michele!
    I began to follow you after I watched a Michael Hyatt video on You Tube. You have a beautiful voice, a warm heart and you are a true inspiration. Thank you for sharing your gifts with the rest of us.
    Sincerely, Tricia ????

    Reply
  21. Chioma

    This is absolutely touching Michele. I must say I have really missed your posts. They leave an indelible mark in my heart always. I can totally relate with not allowing all of this to cloud who we are. And i am definitely with you on this one. I must remember that it’s not about me, it’s not about the accolades, recognition and so forth, it’s never been and will never be. It’s about doing the works that He has called me to do and only for His glory. Thank you Michele!

    Reply
    • Michele Cushatt

      Such a daily struggle to remember and live accordingly, isn’t it? Thankful for you.

      Reply
  22. Tiffany

    I have to admit that I panicked a little when you announced that you were shutting down for a bit. I totally get why and I know that Michael Hyatt talks about it a lot but I still panicked.

    God uses you in my life to help me see all the possibilities that are out there to still be useful after going through really hard stuff.

    I’m glad your back. I missed you. Every time I read your words or hear your voice it gives me hope. I listened to an older podcast the other day, I think it was from a few years back. It was funny because that person didn’t sound like “my Michelle” (as I discovered you about a year ago)

    Yes. I need to unplug even from texting at times because all of it really affects me emotionally especially when I realize that I am using it as an escape rather than a push forward. I have a teeny tiny blog but a few people like it. Due to life I got behind this summer and was panicked that I would lose what very little following I have. I didn’t (the elder ladies in my church found me last Sunday and reminded me how much they love reading it????)

    Anyway, I’m glad your back. Thank you for doing what is right for you because it reminds the rest of us to do the same.

    Have a fabulous day

    Tiffany

    Reply
  23. Douglas Calvin

    Rest – another Michele life lesson for us all.
    How quickly we get caught up in the current!
    I will patiently wait for the surge when you return – refreshed, revitalized, and more deeply connected.

    Blessings,

    Douglas

    Douglas Calvin

    Reply
  24. Susan

    Your post in line with the Sabbath Rest. Which is good for our overall well-being.

    I remember those days when I worked in Silicon Valley and the pressure to sprint a marathon and sacrifice yourself to the gods of industry. So many burned out, then tossed aside for more fresh meat. And we missed the wonderful moments of living and being with family and friends.

    Balance. Taking care of yourself. So important.

    Reply
  25. Chery Gegelman

    Welcome Back Michele,

    You were missed! We live overseas, and one a year we take a 30 day vacation. We travel to places with inconsistent internet, and then to see family. The first year I wrote posts in advance and hired someone to promote them when they published. The next year, I let go. Completely.

    I came back full recharged, full of precious memories, new perspectives and interesting stories to tell.

    Thank you for modeling the courage to strategically spend time where God was leading you. I can’t wait to hear more of what you learned in that process.

    Reply
    • Michele Cushatt

      Thank you, Chery. It’s always nice to be missed. 🙂

      Reply
  26. Molly Heyen

    Excellent article and good for you! We use to take a “tv fast” every August. Once we even missed the Olympics, but that was okay because what we gained made up for the loss. As I am trying to grow my platform, I feel this “drain” you talk about. I just want to write. I am not really interested in all the social media stuff and all and yet it is how we connect today and so I must. Thanks for being bold and leading us all.

    Reply
    • Michele Cushatt

      Molly, I highly recommend two books regarding this topic … unless you already have too many books to read. 🙂 Ironically, both came to me AFTER I’d already disconnected, which only served to confirm that I’d made the right choice. (1) The Rest of God by Mark Buchanan, and (2) Deep Work, by Cal Newport. Different approaches, similar theme. Both excellent.

      Reply
  27. Melissa Mashburn

    yes, yes, yes and amen!!! I couldn’t agree more and wrestle with this same thing…well said!

    Reply
  28. Renea

    You spoke my heart in this post. As a Christian southern woman I’m programmed to put myself last. Learning it isn’t selfish to spend that disconnected time for just God and me together has been a hard battle. Unfortunately I waited until my kids were grown and my health was a disaster to learn. So supermom has been forced into retirement. Here’s to making myself stop, listen, and heal. Thank you for sharing your journey.

    Reply
  29. Dale

    Michele, I am so glad to have “found you” on the Chuck Swindall site talking to his daughter. That video chat was so encouraging to me. (Yes you can add me to the list)

    I was and am growing weary. your battle has been far greater than mine, but your resolve has encouraged me.

    Then I find out it is good to REST. My Heavenly Father rested, I guess I can too and not feel guilty.

    Thank you, Shalome.

    Reply
  30. Heather

    Michele, this concept is simple, but also deep and brilliant.

    I almost never go to Facebook. I do like and use Twitter, which for me is quick and fun. I don’t have an Instagram. They are all useful tools, but they are only tools, and not the real purpose and message of your work.

    Rita Davenport (speaker and author on time management and sales) told a story about using answering machines back in the 80s, and how she discovered that she could ignore a ringing phone. The phone was supposed to be a convenience and answering machines allowed people to take back some of their time.

    30 years later, the “noise” and demands on our time are everywhere! Thank you for the reminder that we have to set boundaries and protect our time – your readers are still with you!

    Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Download a Preview of Michele's New Book,
A Faith that Will Not Fail

A Faith that Will Not Fail is available to order. Get a free preview of the book by filling out the form below.

Thank you! I am excited to have you on board.

Get the Video Series in Your Inbox

You'll receive one video in your inbox for 7 days.  

Done! Check your email to confirm.

Get the 7-Day Video Series Delivered to YourEmail

You will receive one video per day for seven consecutive days.

Great! Check your email to confirm.

Let's Stick Together

 By subscribing you are agreeing to receive Michele's occasional blog posts, videos and newsletters in your email. Subscribers get exclusive access to her free premium resources.

Yay! Thank you! I am excited to have you on board.

Skip to content