My wife Ruth brought an interesting principle to my attention a few years ago. She was in the middle of co-leading our community, LoveBristol, and as a group we were keenly studying the various principles of The Upside-Down Kingdom (of God). You know— the way things just seem to work so differently.
This principle was the principle of releasing others. Standing on the shoulders of giants, if you will. It’s the concept that, from your own favour and accomplishments, you can exercise that favour by giving it to others. Giving them a leg up, so to speak, so they might get a bit further than if they hadn’t received a little help. For example, Ruth has been preaching & teaching at our church for years. She’s become quite well-known throughout the city and wider because of it. She’s built a reputation on it, and that reputation gets her a lot more speaking engagements. But often if Ruth gets a call asking her to speak, she’ll suggest someone else—perhaps someone who hasn’t had so much opportunity, and often they’ll go for it. Someone else gets to speak and share their what God has put on their heart, they build a reputation and the cycle continues. It’s an interesting way to do things when you consider that, without these types of opportunities—people giving you a bit of their favour—you might not be as far ahead. It’s an uncommon break in daily terms.
This was a concept that fascinated me.
It’s is not a new principle, we’ve seen it in The Bible for a long time; the way it says that little children will inherit The Kingdom, and that it’s very hard for a rich man to enter into Heaven. All that business had got us in LoveBristol thinking where is all this coming from? Why is it like this?
My friend Geoff
Most of you know that in late 2010 we (finally) started Upptäcka Press—our publishing label. Publishing was the original goal of Upptäcka Network—we wanted to publish books from the beginning, but it took 6 years to get to that point, and this is a little bit of a story of how it finally happened.
Geoff Hall is an Upptäcka Author, our eldest I believe. He is a close friend and an inspiration to many. He’s the type of guy that tells it like it is and doesn’t make apologies for being who God made him. I instantly liked Geoff when I met him at an Artisan event here in Bristol. I had only been here in Britain for a short while and couldn’t yet identify accents very well. Geoff’s from up north, but his accent was so foreign to me I remember at the end of the meeting I went up and asked him if he was Scottish. When I think of that now, it’s really embarrassing!
Geoff and I stayed in touch over the years. I frequented many of the art events he put on and they were always a breath of fresh air. I felt like Geoff was someone who wasn’t interested in the art of Christian culture, but in art itself, and his relationship with God always flowed through his words as he spoke. One day about a year ago (I think), we met up and Geoff mentioned he had been writing, like, for years and years. He told me about some of the things he was writing about. I asked if he ever thought about getting published, but his English humility took over ;-) I asked him to send me some of the things he’d written.
Over the course of the following weeks Geoff flooded my inbox with Word Doc after Word Doc. Short essays, long essays, ideas for books, and all sorts of incredible thoughts. It would have taken me years to get through much of it. I read a few pieces and instantly saw God’s, ahem, word for today in his works. God had brought Geoff and I together for a reason, not just to publish books, but to form a deep friendship and even brotherhood. Geoff and I, today, have become very close and I wouldn’t trade his perspective and input into my life for the world. Those days sparked the launch of Upptäcka Press.
Favour and a leg up
The principle of sharing favour or whatever you want to call it, in my friendship with Geoff, has been hard at work. Geoff has an incredibly strong background in art, philosophy and (probably) countless years of writing. Without Geoff and his unusual insights, Upptäcka Press would have taken years longer to get off the ground, if at all. Geoff’s willingness to work hard, collaborate on crazy ideas and let me drag him through the gruelling editing process was just the right ingredient Upptäcka Network needed. Upptäcka Press was birthed by the legacy and foundation that Geoff had forged in his years. By standing on Geoff’s shoulders Upptäcka Press bypassed years of hard work.
Upptäcka Press today
To-date, we’ve published two of Geoff’s books: The Wilderness and the Desert of the Real and The Cultural Way of Being, and we’re working hard at getting the remaining two (in the series Spiritual Direction in a Postmodern Landscape) out before the end of the year. We’re working on a super-secret side-project (a multimedia experience called Apocolyptika, oops) and we’re looking for new authors to publish. We’re learning as we go, but one of our priorities is to do things differently. Not just for the sake of it, but to embody Kingdom-principles such as this one. We’re not there yet, but I suppose it’s the journey that counts.
Against the grain
It’s such a joy to see the culture of the Kingdom hard at work today. People like Ruth and Geoff inspire me. In a Western ‘get-mine’ culture, giving favour is going against the grain. It’s a great example of how to live differently in this beautiful world, and to give away what you’ve been given. You can see Ruth’s writing and sermons at her website, ruthlorensson.com, and Geoff writes for Upptäcka Network, Arts Mentoring and on his personal website at GeoffHall.co.uk