When I meet people along the path of life, I sometimes wonder why different people choose different paths. Paul W. Meier is a man who has intrigued me for a time and when I saw a post about his latest offering on the almighty Facebook, I felt I should go ahead and contact him. A few hours later, we had a series of interviews set up. Today, Mr. Meier gave me one of the most revealing interviews I have ever had the pleasure of undertaking. Paul set me at ease straight away and I knew he would be with me on this one. The interview that follows makes me proud to be doing what I am doing. I am keeping the faith.
Q) So are you ready for your first interview with me?
A) Nick – I’m ready if you are! I’m just interested in what you found interesting about my books that led you to contact me.
Q) Well, I’m a guy who loves religious discussion and, if I can fit that into my work, then I will. I think your books sound interesting and I followed my hunch.
A) Then we have a lot to talk about.
Q) I’ve learned to just follow the voice that says “Do it!”
A) Follow that voice!
Q) Why did you choose to write books?
A) I wrote my books because I felt like I had something to share with the world. If I didn’t think so, I wouldn’t have been able to push through the work it takes to make it happen.
Q) So you write to fulfill a creative need inside of you?
A) I write to let something out of me that I can’t keep to myself. It’s like when a light goes on that gets you excited, you’ve got to share it with someone. Since I write non-fiction, mostly about religious topics, I discover new ways of looking at things. Do you ever have those “ah ha!” moments?
Q) Yes, I do a lot, especially when I interview. Tell me about your writing process. How do you write? Do you like music on in the background? Silence? How does Paul W. Meier write?
A) The early morning is the quietest time for me. I like to get up at 4:30 a.m., put the coffee on, and spend twenty minutes in “centering prayer.” This is simply a practice of clearing the mind, which is not always an easy thing. But it gets me ready to write. Then I get my coffee and start writing for a couple of hours before I get ready to go to work.
Q) You are a Lutheran minster am I right? Tell me how you found your faith and became a minister– was there a moment when you knew you had to?
A) Yes, my father and both grandfathers were Lutheran ministers. But at the age of thirteen, I was sure I didn’t want to have any preacher’s kids, nor did I want to go to Africa to be a missionary. So I taught high school for eight years, sold medical equipment for fourteen years, and then felt “the calling” to enter the ministry. I went to seminary when I was 49 and I’ve been at a rural church for ten years now. To be specific about the “calling,” I was reading the Bible in morning meditation when that happened. The good news is that I didn’t have to go to Africa – I’m serving in the town where my wife and I took our first vacations. I think if I was destined to go to Africa, God would have made that a compelling thing.
Q) What did the “calling” feel like? Did you just know instinctively that you had to be a minister?
A) At the time I’d say I was an extremely practical, moderately conservative, and “realistic” Christian thinker, so I didn’t expect any supernatural revelations. But when the words of a verse in Luke 4 seemed to raise up off the page and speak directly to me, I had to take a deep breath and let the tears run down my cheeks. I had never said anything to my wife about feeling like I was inclined to become a minister, even though I’d been teaching adult Sunday School. That night I said, “I’ve got something I need to tell you.” She didn’t give me time to finish. She said, “You’re going to be a preacher, aren’t you?”
The verse that hit me, I’ve discovered, has spoken to others, too. Jesus reads part of Isaiah in the synagogue, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor.”
Q) If you had ignored your calling, do you think God would have just drawn you in?
A) I think if we don’t follow the path that opens the way to discovering all that God created us to be, another path will present itself. Although, it took three “calls” to actually get me moving. After the first message, I said, “BUT… I’ve been working on a new business for nine months, do you want me to throw all that hard work away?” The next day, another verse of the Bible came up that said, “No soldier gets involved in civilian affairs, he only wants to please his commanding officer.” That was pretty clear. But I said, “Okay, I hear you…BUT…just to make sure, I’ll wait for you to tell me again.” Three months later, another verse hit me – “the Son does only what the Father does.” So I gave up and started seminary thirty days later and became a Lutheran pastor like my father. In some ways, I think listening for the “call” is learning how to listen to the inner voice within us.
Q) Do you believe we all have a calling?
A) Yes, and I think that calling changes as we journey in life. I seem to be drawn to the practice of using the imagination to become the person I’m supposed to be. In my late twenties, I wrote my first book. The title alone would have made it a blockbuster: “The One Minute Diet.” The premise was that if you could imagine yourself trim and beautiful for one minute several times a day (maybe at mealtime), you would develop the motivation for doing what was necessary to bring your vision to completion. I never submitted it to anyone, however.
When I discovered Ignatius of Loyola’s method of using the imagination to experience the stories in the Bible, I did it, and it changed my religion. That’s why I wrote the book that I’ve released this week.
Q) What stopped you from having that diet book published? I think it sounds like a great book to have out there.
A) Lack of confidence, lack of a credible background in diet or weight control, no platform, and needing to support a family.
Q) Have your beliefs strengthened your confidence in yourself?
A) Let’s say that I think what I’ve learned and accepted as truth has strengthened my confidence in the absolute goodness of God. And with this as a foundation, what can anyone do to shake the secure feeling that all will be well, no matter what we go through in life? It makes life more exciting and freeing.
Q) Do you believe God can help you achieve any goal?
Not if I’m the one deciding what I want to achieve. I spent a lot of early years setting goals for what I thought would make me happy and content. I achieved some of them, but only wanted more. I missed a lot of goals (I tend to set BIG goals), and was disappointed. Happiness is found when you trust the path will open to what you’re created to do. You just have to work hard and do the best you can right where you are without allowing others tell you what will make you happy.
I would also like to mention my newest book O Taste and See: Discovering God Through Imaginative Meditations is at a reduced price Tuesday through Friday this week on Amazon.
Q) Thank you for this wonderful first interview, Paul. It’s been a pleasure having these first few words with you. Could you pray for me please? My wife-to-be is returning to the States and I am feeling really bad about it. I don’t want her to go– but she has to.
A) I’d be honored to pray for both of you. Be the best long distance fiancé you can be, and God will bless your journey in ways you never imagined.
Q) Thank you Paul–I’ve got to go to London with her and then come back home. In some ways I don’t know how I will manage it. I don’t like being away from her– I guess I’m meant to be married.
A) Safe travels to you both. Trust in the goodness of God.
Have you ever felt that warm feeling inside of you? The one where you know everything will be just fine? I had that feeling when I talked to Paul W. Meier. I felt as though all my troubles were sliding away, and I was free from all pain and anguish. I hope you feel that way, too.
O Taste and See: Discovering God Through Imaginative Meditations is available now!
Check out these other great books by Paul W. Meier: