As some of you may know, I’m currently in school getting my masters degree in mass communications. This week, as I sat listening to my teacher expound upon the history of the television crime drama (yep, it’s really a class), I was struck by a profound thought (okay, I thought it was profound – but that could be the effect of the Diet Dr. Pepper and M&M combination I was sucking down to stay awake): these producers, directors, and actors we’re studying from the 1950s and 60s are remembered by so few these days.
For instance, can you name the most prolific producer of syndicated television shows of all time? He had a production budget of $6 million (in the 50s!!) and produced The Cisco Kid, Highway Patrol, and Sea Hunt. It was Frederick W. Ziv. Better yet, have you ever watched one episode of those shows? We watched Highway Patrol in class and, let me tell you, we’ve come a long way, baby.
As I stared at Frederick W. Ziv’s face on the PowerPoint presentation before me, I knew I was looking at a professionally successful man. And then I wondered if he was spiritually successful.
Did Ziv acknowledge the One who carved out this fabulous life niche for him? Did he tithe? Did he marry, have children, and teach them the importance of keeping God first? Did he pray about the direction he took his production company? Was each major decision analyzed and brought before the throne of the Almighty, laid at His feet, and left to His will?
Scripture tells us that non-believers are just as earthly successful (if not more so) than believers, so Ziv’s excellent career doesn’t indicate the presence of faith. I found an interview Nick Clooney did with Ziv and watched it. He said he knew he, “…had an affinity for writing.” Hmm, an affinity. Sounds like “created for a purpose” to me.
Ziv also wrote a book, The Valiant Muse, which Putnam published – before he entered the world of television. It was poems written by those killed in World War I. More voices that we’ve forgotten since their death. How many of those whose words were captured in a book that’s now out of print are singing in Heaven at this moment?
Which brought me back to my profound thought: how true the saying that what we do for eternity – for faith’s sake - is all that matters.
I may, indeed, be sitting at the helm of a groundbreaking publicity firm. It could all go up in smoke tomorrow or it could become a multi-million dollar venture as Ziv’s production company did. It could be a voice crying in the wilderness or it could have a profound effect on the publishing industry. Either way, though, I’m destined to die at some point. And when that time comes, what will I have done that lasts?
I’m blessed in that my professional life is juxtaposed with my faith because the firm represents Christian novelists. Great strides at work mean great strides for the faith. That’s true for you, too, as a Christian writer. How amazingly blessed we are to be given a career path in which we can make lasting, faith-based, change and growth in people’s lives.
And, yet, we could so easily let the stories become about something else. Many, many something elses.
Frederick W. Ziv and the countless others who have walked this earth, conquered their field, and been pronounced commercial successes serve as a reminder to me today: best-seller lists, sales in the millions, literary awards, six-figure contracts – it all falls away in the end. And what will be left are the words, the actions, that were taken for the faith.