Malinda Fuller: God Doesn’t Ask Us to Do Everything (Part 1)

John FarrellBy John Farrell13 Minutes

John Farrell: What was the reason for writing Obedience Over Hustle?

Malinda Fuller: Obedience Over Hustle did not start as a book though that was always my goal and being an author that is always the goal. But I jokingly tell people if I really wanted to sell a lot of books, I would have picked a different topic to write about as my first one. It kind of rubs people the wrong way.

It actually started because I quit my day job several years ago now because I felt like the Lord was asking me to do so at a time when I had just started homeschooling my children. I was definitely in over my head or so I felt.

I wanted to write more, but I had a day job. I felt like the Lord said, “Well, I want to bless your writing and speaking ministry. I want to give you more influence, but you’re doing too many things. So, you need to pick and choose.” I felt like He was asking me to quit my job even though financially it didn’t really make sense for us to do that. I have a family.

That’s how the book starts. It opens with that story of how I came to that decision and what it’s looked like since. Continually trusting that the Lord’s plans and the Lord’s timing, especially, is much better than my vantage point or my own wisdom.

Our Freedom Through God

JF: What is the overall message you hope readers take from your book?

Malinda: The overall message is God hasn’t asked you to do everything. It’s really a message of freedom. It’s the idea that God doesn’t ask us to do everything. He asks us to do a few things and He expects us to do them well. And His vantage point is better than ours.

Just because we have a good idea, dream, or goal doesn’t mean that we need to necessarily accomplish it tomorrow. I think there’s a lot of people that are doing a lot of really great things, but they’re exhausting themselves as a result. I don’t think that the life that Jesus modeled for us was one of busyness. And I think that choosing to say “yes” to what He’s asking us to do is the freedom that a lot of us really need in our lives right now.

JF: Why is that message so important in today’s world?

Malinda: Because we are overworked; we’re exhausted; we are riddled with anxiety. We have massive health problems that are the results of eating fast foods, not sleeping well, being overworked, not taking vacations. The whole hustle harder mentality tells us that we need to exhaust ourselves. Our phone usage is out of control.

I think there’s actually a really dangerous message in our culture that you can be anything you want to be and have anything that you want to have. That’s not the gospel message. God doesn’t promise us that. He tells us to come to Him. He is the one that allows our life to be full and allows us to feel significant and like our life has meaning and purpose. It’s not a result of what we do or how far we get through our checklists in a day.

JF: What did you learn about yourself from writing Obedience Over Hustle?

I tell people all the time that the bigger challenge for me was getting over my insecurities. It’s the same thing that Gideon said when the Lord told him, “Hey, mighty warrior, I’m going to use you to do these great things.” Gideon’s like, “No, no, no. I am the least. And my clan is the smallest.”

For me it was getting over that I never finished college. I don’t have a journalism degree. I don’t know anybody in the publishing world. I have a really small platform.

Several people have told me that I’d never be able to sell a book with the word “obedience” in the title, and yet here I am on the other side of it. Published my very first manuscript with a traditional publisher.

That was the bigger challenge for me than actually sitting down and writing the words. It was not listening to that constant voice in my ear saying, “It’s probably not going to be good enough anyway. What if you do all this work and then nobody buys it.”

At the end of the day, for me, it was obedience to the Lord. I feel like this is the message that He’s given me. And if God wants the books to come to fruition, then that’s on Him. All I’m responsible for is my part, which is putting the words on paper.

The Writing Process

JF: Were there any chapters you struggled with writing or topics that you worried about?

Malinda: You know, I’ve literally done dozens of these interviews, and nobody has asked me that question.

I think so much of it has been my life’s journey that a lot of what I write about is what I’ve already wrestled through and walked through and grown through. I talk about the mommy hustle and how the mentality for so many moms is that my kids are a distraction and that once they’re older I’ll get to the things that I really was created by God to do. I remember struggling with that when I was a younger mom with littler children and getting to the point where God was, “No, they aren’t a distraction. If you do nothing else in your life, but you teach your kids how to follow me that is the greatest thing that you can do.”

Writing that was a massive life lesson for me as were most of the chapters really.

JF: Was there a vulnerability that made it a little more difficult to write about?

Malinda: Oh, for sure. Because I had to admit, “Hey, I struggle with this.” A lot of the story is my struggle.

When I sold it, I hadn’t written a conclusion and I didn’t really feel like I had anything to tie it together. The editors were like, “That’s okay. It’ll come.”

The conclusion is that several years to the week after I quit my job, my husband actually did the same thing, and decided to launch a company. Us going to a place of total independence and not having salary, not having benefits, and all those things really was full circle for us – obeying the Lord when He said, “I’m ready for you to take another giant leap of faith. Even though it’s really scary, I need you to put your brave pants on and I need you to trust Me because you’ve watched Me provide for you and do all of these incredible things over the last several years.”

That ended up being the conclusion of the book. So, there’s definitely a lot of vulnerability involved in being a writer when I think that’s how people connect you.

When I quit my day job, that was about thirty percent of our income, and we also just the month prior increased our expenses by thirty percent. The math didn’t really make sense, but God told us to do it anyway. That’s pretty vulnerable … and sharing about how one week we didn’t have enough money to pay our rent and to tithe.

I told my husband, and his response was, “We need to give.” So, I wrote a check to our local church that we sowed into every week, and the next day God provided work for my husband three times the amount that I just wrote the check for.

I think being able to share with people that this isn’t just a great idea in theory, but this is how it plays out for me personally. That’s where it’s really powerful because our testimonies are powerful.

JF: That’s a great example of sowing and reaping.

How did your leap of faith and your previous job as a massage therapist impact your writing and how did they play a part in the whole writing process and the content within the book?

Malinda: That’s the very first part of the book. That’s really when it started. For me, my writing career really started when I quit my day job. I invested in myself – honing my skills as a writer, learning how to pitch publications, and learning how to work with editors. All of those things were a result of having time because I wasn’t working at the chiropractic office anymore. None of those things would have happened if I was still working thirty hours a week.

I know that the fruit that I see in my children – because we’re in year five of homeschooling – is a result of me being home and me recognizing that God wasn’t asking me to go to work. He was asking me to lay that down and sow into my family. And the result is these kids, and how awesome they are. They actually love doing life as a family.

I don’t know if you know this, but we actually travel full-time now. I’m in Florida, and we live in an RV and travel full-time.

Order your copy of Obedience Over Hustle: The Surrender of the Striving Heart by Malinda Fuller