Ep 177: "It's Not Over" Book Update
Welcome to the 177th episode of the Joshua Gagnon Leadership Podcast!
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You can read the full transcription of this episode below.
Roman Archer: Well welcome back, another episode of the Joshua Gagnon Leadership Podcast. We’re going to have a conversation today with Pastor Josh. How are you doing?
Joshua Gagnon: I’m doing good, Romeo.
R: Doing good, Romeo. Um, wanted to take a conversation today...you’re playing with a basketball on the concrete floor. So if you hear banging, that’s what that is.
J: We were talking today, when I have a ball on my hand,...
R: More relaxed.
J: They were telling me I’m just more smooth.
R: You spoke this past weekend and you had a basketball hoop on stage, which is why you actually have a basketball, because we have like 12 of them floating around our offices right now, that we had bought.
R: You used it for an illustration.
J: I was able to bring Malachi up on stage, my firstborn son, and that was fun. He enjoyed it. Loved every minute of it and loved being a part of it.
R: Yeah. It was a good visual, good illustration across all of the locations in a series on the Beginner’s Guide to Wisdom. You’re teaching through different Proverbs. I thought today, for the…
J: Wait a minute, he’s got to check his watch.
R: I actually got, who was it, oh I got a text from somebody last night that had listened to the episode where we talked about the watch, the Apple watch or the smart watch.
J: Not good.
R: And they sent me a picture of one they were looking at buying, but they said they were hesitating because of our episode.
J: There you go.
R: See, you’re making an impact.
J: I’m making an impact in one person’s life.
R: One wrist at a time.
J: You came over last night for dinner with your family, and I noticed a couple times while we were having dinner, at my table, that I lovingly invited you and you family to sit at, I noticed a couple of times you looked at your watch.
R: And I muted it after you pointed it out.
J: After I pointed it out.
R: I shut the notifications off.
J: So at this point in time, if I’m a juror and I’m deliberating, I’m coming up with a clear verdict.
R: Of what? What am I on trial for?
J: Overstimulation of technology.
R: Overstimulation of my wrist?
R: I mean, it could be super effective.
R: I’m getting way more done.
J: At the cost of losing more.
R: So if somebody, had sent me that message. Anyway, today you’re kind of in a different season. Little bit of a weird season, I figured we could talk about it. I know for many of our listeners, we’ve had little tad bits of conversations about the book writing season that you’ve been in. You actually just, two weeks ago, handed in your final manuscript.
J: Well, not the final manuscript, but the manuscript.
R: Okay, so for us laypeople, explain to us the process.
J: The final is one that you no longer have to touch, right? So that’s the actual final manuscript. That’s what people are going to read. What you have to do or what you’re asked to do after you sign a book deal with the publisher is they give you a certain amount of time to write the first manuscript, which is basically, not a rough draft, it is by the definition of that term, however you’re not handing in what you think is just the rough piece of work. You’re giving, in my case, my best, and I handed in my best case of my best I could give, right? So I went through it over and over and over and over again. I worked really hard on it for hundreds of hours. And then you hand it in and then they now, will go through several rounds of editing and beating it up and pulling it apart.
R: How long have you been working on the book? What’s the process?
J: A couple years ago, when I had an agent reach out to me, and said, listen, God’s using me and your platform’s growing, and I’ve always been hesitant towards that whole platform word. I feel uncomfortable by it. Literally the term makes me feel uncomfortable. And back then it’s even like, listen, keep working at building your platform. He’s like, you know, so publishers will want to sign you and we talked about it. We even put out an idea to some publishers, and there was a couple people that were interested, but I didn’t really feel at peace and there was nobody really that was dying to sign me.
R: It’s a timing thing.
J: It was a timing thing, yeah. And I remember, I never even was good at English. I often laugh because if one person wasn’t going to write a book in my English class, it was me.
R: Do you remember your English teacher’s name?
J: It was Mr. Delmonaco, I think.
R: Mr. Delmonaco, if you are a fan of the podcast, please email in.
J: Yeah, I can’t remember what exactly it was, but if you told him, like I had to stay after to graduate, I had to stay after and do extracurriculum for English in order to walk in graduation, cause it was the one area that I just was horrible at.
R: Oh, really?
J: Yeah. And so I had to stay after or I wasn’t going to graduate. And so the last month I stayed after everyday for extracurriculum to graduate, to be able to walk with the class.
J: And so, it was something where, like if you were to tell that class that Josh Gagnon was writing a book, they would laugh. The teacher would say, “This is the one student probably in my entire career that I would’ve...well, probably not the one, but one of the students in my entire career that I would’ve said would never write a book. And so there’s always a large bit of insecurity there. It’s funny because I feel gifted at some of the things I do, and I still recognize my need for Jesus, but it’s with writing this book I’ve never, I had so much dependency and vulnerability and desperation for Jesus to come through, because I clearly know that I can’t do it on my own. Now, by God’s grace for whatever reason, the publishers and my agent and everybody is saying, even you’ve said, I may be a better writer than I am communicator, so it’s funny where you don’t even see gifts.
R: Do you think the medium is that different from live communication?
J: Absolutely. I do. Absolutely. I think live communication, any author is going to tell you that.
R: Which one do you prefer?
J: So I prefer…
R: Cause you’re a very intentional person, so the idea of being able to craft and recraft and recraft, you’ve always said that enough communication was…
J: Any writer’s going to tell you that communicating on stage and writing, anybody who tells you it’s the same thing is completely wrong. They’re completely wrong. It’s a completely different reality. Communicating in a lot of ways you make up on the fly, but if you were to write down, even what I’m saying right now, right now what I’m saying would not work in a book, it would sound confusing, it would sound like it was unclear. Communication has voice reflection, facial at times, there’s so much we communicate verbally that’s not communicated verbally, right? And so writing though, all you have is what’s written on that paper. You have nothing else to go along with it. And so it’s a totally different gift, a totally different ability. What do I like better? The idea of communicating comes with less of a burden, verbally, because it comes, you work hard on it for a week or a few days, and then you preach it or communicate it and it’s over. A book is like…
R: Keeps living.
J: And the other thing is no one’s ever going to remember my message from a month ago. But the book, people...my great grandkids are going to read it. So what you say in a book outlives you, what you teach in a message dies well before you…
R: Yeah, but with video now you would think it’s just as permanent in a way. I wonder why we have that perception because I know what you’re saying, it always feels like the book is more permanent.
J: Because I’m going to preach thousands of messages, and so you may hear one or two of them, or five or them, my grandkids or whatever, right? But I’m not going to write thousands of books. So there’s a high probability that my great grandkids read, or I’m just using that as an example, they read every book I write. They’re not going to listen to every message I’ve ever preached. And so you know the weight on each one is that much more.
R: More rare.
J: Yeah. By the way, my agent Alex is none other than Alex Fields, is the best agent in the world. So if you’re interested in writing a book and feel like God’s called you in that direction, email in the podcast and I’ll make that connection.
R: So you were doing writing prep all through Easter, took some time to actually get away, break away, and did some writing. What was that process like?
J: I’m the type of personality that I need to go and do it. I can’t just say, “Hey, I’m going to write a little bit each day.” My personality is I have to go all in, I have to be drenched in that rhythm. And so yeah, I took a vacay, what do you call it these days?
R: A staycation.
J: Staycation. And me and my wife and my boys, we went away, and they had fun, and I wrote.
R: And you didn’t.
J: No, I labored. I bled. Writing is like bleeding on paper. And so I wrote probably, I got up every morning super early and I would only break away maybe for ten minutes the entire day from writing. So it was pretty much 12, 13, 14 hours of nonstop writing.
R: You’re a pretty accessible person, pretty accessible leader, but I know even in that little stretch there, we still probably talked everyday but certainly during the day you would just go dark, you were just in it, in the writing shed.
J: Yeah, it was pretty intense. It was a pretty intense, tense, tense go.
R: Yeah. And so now they have the first draft.
J: Yeah, they have the first draft and so it will get back here and we’ll unpack it. The book’s titled It’s Not Over and we’re going to talk about learning to dream again when discouragement seems to overtake. The tagline’s “Leaving behind diescouragement and learning to dream again.” Leaving behind disappointment and learning to dream again, and it’s not necessarily just for people who have no dreams, I think that a lot of our ministry leaders are going to be blessed by it because it talks about how our prayer life, and our dream life, they often parallel one another. And we’ll often feel like we don’t have big prayers and we write books on praying big prayers, which I’m all for. Matter of fact, Mark Batterson’s writing a foreward for my book and so he wrote Prayer Circle, which is one of the most powerful books on my opinion, on prayer was the most powerful I’ve read. Adam Webber is a good friend of mine, he wrote a book I think it was Talking with God, and that was a wonderful book on prayer as well, but Mark’s was really special for me. And he talks about praying big, bold prayers, and I agree fully with that. I’m just adding a little bit of a layer to it where I don’t think you can pray big, bold prayers unless you have big dreams. I think our prayer life really is the volume to our dream life. It gives words to our dream life. And when you don’t have big dreams or when you feel like you’ve been in ministry for years and haven’t seen what you wished you would’ve seen, I don’t know abouyt our listeners but there are times in my life where my prayers in ministry have dimmed based on yesterday’s shadows. So there was days where I would pray big, bold prayers cause the dreams were ther,e and then years after maybe not seeing what it was I dreamt I would see I started noticing my prayers were becoming really small. It was almost a fear to pray big because the dreams have shrunk. And so we talk about that, we talk about living, how do you find contentment, you know, we talk about finding contentment while we’re chasing our dreams, which is something I’m struggling with, it’s something I think I may die struggling with. We talk about that. We talk about our relationships in the midst of our dreams, vampires and zombies and different types of people that come along in our relationships.
R: What I love about is it’s not a ministry book. It’s not a leadership book. It’s a wide audience, I even think of people like my mom, who had gone through a divorce. She’s passed away, but had gone through divorce. It’s one of those books that even in that season, it’s not just like, well, I’m planting a church so here’s this It’s Not Over book. It really is the theme of the book is whatever season of life you find yourself in, we all encounter these obstacles. For her, it would have been that divorce and really trying to pick up the pieces of that and figure out what is life now going to look like on the other side? Cause I’ll share the tagline, the tagline is…
J: Leaving behind….
J: And learning to dream again.
R: So I think that’s really exciting.
J: Yeah. We talk about how life is handed to us more like Legos, you know like you see the outside of a Lego box and it seems all complete. But what about when you get handed the dream.
R: Six thousand pieces.
J: It’s all the pieces of obedience and faithfulness. So I really believe Jesus is all over it. It’s not releasing until next February I think, we don’t have the date yet but if any of our listeners want to help get the word out, we’re going to get together a launch team for the book.
R: Next week we’re prepping all that stuff and planning that.
J: Yeah, that will be a fun thing and I do believe Jesus is going to, what else am I going to say other than that, but I really do believe that the Lord has, I think the Lord is all over it. I really do.
R: Absolutely. And from the parts I’ve gotten to read it’s going to be a great book. Very funny, which is, I know you talk about how different communicating is live versus verbal but you can definitely see the personality still come out on the paper.
J: Everybody says it’s authentic and it’s funny, and it’s real, storytelling. So we’ll see what it does. I’ve got a two-book deal so I’ve got two shots at actually writing something that someone will want to be reading.
R: Will you call it a mulligan?
J: Yeah, it’s a lot of work for a mulligan. But it’s up to the Lord. I give it over to him.
R: Cool, well just wanted to kind of have a conversation around that. Obviously moving into summer here, you got At The Movies, got a coaching network going on.
J: Yeah, the Coaching Network’s been pretty cool. Love for someone, if you guys want to join the next one it’s been a blessing. At The Movies, every year we do in July, so that will be something that….
R: Our church looks forward to, absolutely loves it. In between that weird season where we’re now, Labor Day, Memorial Day, we’re in the summer months, but July is always…
J: We try to find ways to create expectation and anticipation, so doing At The Movies gives everyone a benchmark to look forward to, so we do that in July in a month where we typically, well we still see a fall off in attendance, but in a month where we would see an even more drastic fall off, it’s a chance to have some uptick, and so At The Movies has been a really fun thing for us. If you don’t know what that is, we just pick Hollywood films and show clips of them and I interject within the movie and give spiritual truths and all of our locations do build weeks where they build up the theme of the movies in their lobbies and we have a competition where we hand out a trophy to the location that does it well.
R: Yeah, I got it right here.
J: So that’s a pretty fun thing for the summer, and it gives me also an opportunity for me to not have to teach every week and in the summer because I have to pre-record all of those, so I get the month of July to not have to teach on the weekends. And so that’s always been a blessing. That’s another strategic reason why we do it.
R: Yep. So a lot of prep. Love to hear what you are doing, the listeners out there this summer, for those of you who are in ministry in the context of the local church, love to hear what you do to create momentum and to team up with culture. But appreciate you taking time today, excited for the book, excited for the summer, and we’ll keep our listeners updated.