Mark has been pastoring New Vision church for six years now, and all his hard work is about to pay off as the church approaches mega-church status. But while Mark has been busy building the church, his own household has been crumbling to pieces. After ignoring divine guidance, Mark finds himself caught up in the appearance of a scandal that threatens to tear the church apart. And his wife’s secrets only add insult to near-fatal injury.
Sharla would have done just about anything to be a mother…and, actually, she did. She was willing to pay the price for her mistakes, but she never dreamed someone else might have to suffer instead. How close can she come to confessing her past without jeopardizing her future?
Stepping Down is the eighth full-length novel from National Bestselling Author Michelle Stimpson. As the granddaughter of a pastor and the great-granddaughter of a bishop, she explores a conflict many spiritual leaders still encounter today. Readers will enjoy this fast-paced, hard-hitting novel that addresses the ageless question: How can a man run the church if he can’t run his own household?
Read the Excerpt
Pastor Mark Wayne Carter, III cast his drooping eyes on the clock ticking away on the wall directly across from his desk. Last year his wife, Sharla, had lowered the clock so that it stared at him while he was sitting in his gold-studded leather executive chair.
“I know you’re busy doing the Lord’s work, but it would be nice to see you home before the sun goes down sometimes,” she had nagged as she pounded a nail into the wall. She positioned the clock in its new location, then put both hands on her hips. “If you can see the clock, you might actually keep track of how much time you’re spending here in your office.”
Mark didn’t like to fight with her about his devotion to New Vision Church. The church was his life’s purpose, the reason he’d walked away from his short, but well-paying career as an insurance salesman. This church had given him a sense of accomplishment he’d never experienced in all his months as top-producer at StateWay Insurance.
More than anything, Mark hoped that New Vision Church would be the reason Jesus said, “Well done, my good and faithful servant,” to him one day.
Late Saturday nights came with the territory, which was one reason he hired a very young man as his assistant and semi-mentee. At thirty-eight years old, Mark was no old goat, but he wasn’t bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, either. He needed an assistant to knock on the door every hour or so and make sure Mark hadn’t fallen asleep at the computer.
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Interview with Michelle Stimpson
When did you realize you had a book (or some books) inside you?
Honestly, I can’t think of time when I didn’t have a story brewing inside me. What is surprising to me, though, is how many books (18) and short stories (50+) I have written. And I see no signs of slowing down!
Why is the theme of this project important?
This book was the product of prayer and reading two other books (52 Lies Heard in Churches Every Sunday and Pagan Christianity) that really challenged me to think about what it means to be in ministry and in leadership. The main character struggles to balance his commitment to family and to his calling, which is something that I think many people struggle to maintain.
What did you learn about yourself while writing this book?
The main character (Mark) struggles to do what God is commanding him to do despite what the people in the church are telling him to do. If he follows God’s lead, that may mean losing part of the church. As I wrote this book, I felt led to address an issue I see within the African-American community (our devotion to Greek-letter organizations) knowing that some readers may not like the implications. I thought about leaving that part out. But then it hit me: How can you write a book about being bold for God’s Kingdom and decide not to be bold? So, this book was a challenge for me!
How do you find time to write?
I’m grateful that I don’t have a full-time job outside of writing, so I don’t have to “find” time to write. For me, the struggle is managing the time I do have. A little trip to the post office, a stop at the grocery store…before I know it, the morning is gone. I really have to be conscious of how I use the hours in a day.
If you could work on a writing project with anyone (dead or alive), who would it be?Why?
I’d love to write with J. California Cooper because I’d like to just hear how words flow from her mind to the page.
About Michelle Stimpson
Michelle Stimpson is an author, a speaker, and an educator who received her Bachelor of Science degree from Jarvis Christian College in 1994. She earned a Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Texas at Arlington in 2002. She has had the pleasure of teaching elementary, middle, and high school as well as training adults.
In addition to her work in the field of education, Michelle ministers through writing and public speaking. Her works include the highly acclaimed Boaz Brown, Divas of Damascus Road (National Bestseller), and Falling Into Grace, which has been optioned by Paulist Productions for a movie of the week. She has published several short stories for high school students through her educational publishing company, Right Track Academic Support Services, at www.wegottaread.com.
Michelle serves in women’s ministry at her home church, Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship. She also ministers to women and writers through her blog. Michelle regularly speaks at special events and writing workshops sponsored by churches, schools, book clubs, and educational organizations. The Stimpsons are proud parents of two young adults and one crazy dog.
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