Behind the Book
Q & A with Stephen W. Smith
Stephen W. Smith is the author of Embracing Soul Care and The Lazarus Life, and the cofounder and president of The Potter’s Inn, a ministry providing resources and services in spiritual formation. Here he answers a few questions about his newest book, Inside Job, which challenges leaders to keep themselves emotionally and spiritually healthy in order to thrive in a success-driven world.
What is the meaning behind the title Inside Job?
Our culture has developed a fetish for image management. And sadly, we seem to be shaped more by culture than by God. We value the outside of nearly everything more than we do the inside. The outer markers of success—image, position, money, power, etc.—spike our adrenaline and charge us forward to climb the wrong ladders of success.
How did you personally get pulled into the lure of “success”?
Having never even heard that I needed to do my own inside job when I left college and grad school to begin my career, I swallowed the lure of what I thought success was all about. I developed an addiction to work that was applauded by every organization I worked for in my career. I was hooked—as every addiction hooks a person. It was not until I learned about doing the “work within the work” that I found a wholeness I never knew was possible. It truly was freeing and transformational.
How does Inside Job help leaders find true success?
Inside Job helps leaders navigate the raging whitewater of life. Many leaders are climbing the ladder to success only to realize that their ladder is in fact leaning against the wrong wall. When we chase success rather than cultivate a sense of what true success is, we will end up crashing to the ground. Inside Job offers practical categories to help emerging leaders and leaders in the trenches gain much needed resources that will strengthen their sense of true leadership and help them avoid the carnage that happens when a leader falls for many possible reasons.
What do you mean by “the work within the work”?
The work within the work is simple and life altering. It is becoming self-aware and God-aware while doing your job. Inside Job is a practical tool to help leaders in the marketplace and ministry become more self-aware and also God-aware in their everyday jobs. Our inside job is engaging in our inner work while doing our outer jobs. Both are needed—not just one or the other.
What do you want readers to take away?
I want readers to experience the abundant life—not just the driven life. In my career of working with busy leaders in the marketplace and ministry, I have found the vast majority to be ill-equipped to do their inside job. We are so focused and driven in our work that we have not connected the dots and realized that by doing the inside job, the outside work will go better and so will our marriages, our family life, our community life and our God life.
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