When Kevin Adams began blogging a few years back, he had no idea he would quickly gain a social media following of 80,000. Nor did he know that his words would result in a book contract. What he did know was that God was calling him to write, to reach out to others with the message he had been given through extreme adversity—losing everything he owned in a matter of months.
In his new book from Zondervan (May 2014), The Extravagant Fool, Kevin shares what he has learned by listening to that ‘still small voice’ of God, riches far greater than the possessions he once owned.
Kevin and his family make their home in Franklin, Tennessee.
What sparked your writing journey?
The simple answer, I suppose, is what I call “The Shove” from God. The intricate answer is… that I’ve been on this journey for decades and only recently began to recognize it—something I refer to as a “The nudge” from God. In other words, I wrote a little as an adolescent and on into my teen years—mostly after being inspired by music, poetry, and even some literature. But as I matured, I was reminded by the world that writing was for most, only an exercise in self-indulgence—certainly not something to pursue as a career. And therefore, thought little about it from that point on. In fact I never even considered myself a closet-writer.
That is… not until God turned my life upside down to get my attention.
Having an extremely curious personality, I’ve always believed in exploring the boundaries of convention, never quite setting aside the desire to create. Unfortunately, I chose the pursuit of wealth as the Holy Grail—a place I could get to before I was allowed the freedom to create. Get rich—get approval—get the freedom to create—whatever that might look like. In other words, my heart’s desire was always to be God’s expression in the lives of others, but by the standards of the age, (common sense) my validity as a man could only be realized by following the rules. Or so I thought.
After years of success—still relentlessly pursuing wealth—I lost everything I’d worked to achieve in a matter of weeks. And that is when “the nudge” became “the shove.”
It was the opportunity to start from scratch—to stop all the striving and finally, literally begin to listen to God, and discover what it means to be led by His Spirit rather than my own soul. But it came with insurmountable debt, near homelessness, and the inability to even feed my family. Only then was I able to understand the difference between being a committed and surrendered believer. And only then could I begin to literally tap into the sound of God’s voice.
But even then, because I was so hard headed, it took several years of wrestling with my old identity, the opinions of other believers, and learning to rest in His arms that I began to actually hear the calling to write. When I finally let go of my own understanding, He simply said, “Write for me, Kevin, and I will provide.” I did and He confirmed it by not only providing every step along the way, but by giving me a testimony to share with many.
How did this eventually lead to a book contract?
Well, without any immediate direction from God on what to write or where to write, I just started a blog, hoping at the very least that chronicling this day by day journey of relying on Him alone would be a way to stay encouraged—like a prayer journal. I had no idea that others would actually read it and be encouraged as well. But it only took a few posts to see that God was at work, and that not only my story, but my style of writing had a profound effect on others—particularly those who were going through difficult trials.
My readership grew quickly and eventually I was contacted by an author, who was admittedly led by God to introduce me to her publisher/editor. It was completely unsolicited, and I had no idea why or what this meant. In fact, I nearly dismissed it, knowing that even though God told me to write, I wasn’t really a “writer”—not the kind that writes books, anyhow. But she encouraged me to follow what God had placed on her heart, and the introduction took place two days later. The editor asked me to write her a book. There is of course, much more to the story, but that is where the idea for a book was born—right in the palm of God’s hands.
What is the significance of the title, The Extravagant Fool? Please tell us about the book.
The book title came directly from God’s voice to my spirit. And was inspired by 1 Corinthians 3:18 “Do not deceive yourselves. If any of you think you are wise by the standards of this age, you should become “fools” so that you may become wise.” (NIV).
Through this passage God revealed to me that there are two kinds of fools: one who says or lives as if there is no God, and one who lives as if there is nothing worthwhile outside of Him. In other words, there is no middle ground—which ultimately forces us to see which type of fool we actually are, and make a choice between the two—not a popular idea in today’s Christian culture which looks very similar to the world.
The story is about my journey in discovering the surprising differences—things that will challenge even the most seasoned veteran believer. And then it chronicles my own stumbling steps toward becoming the right kind of fool—extravagantly so—despite the apparent wisdom of culture.
When God sends us down an unexpected path, we may know with our heart that “He’s got it,” but our head sometimes tell us to doubt. How do you get through those times?
I suppose the best answer would be a very long one, but for the sake of brevity, I’ll try to put it in a nutshell. We have to learn the difference between the sound of God’s voice (the lead of His Spirit) and the pull of our own soul (the mind, will, and emotions, or… our own understanding). The only way to do this is to dig deep into God’s Word and truly experience it. And to examine it as well, as a whole—appreciating the entirety of it—where we see that God uses the weak to confront the strong, and the foolish to confound the wise. It gives us a picture of His personality as we see that every breakthrough comes at the behest of logic and convention. All the heroes of faith had to follow God’s illogical lead to have victory. We see that impossible circumstances are only overcome by courageously following Him instead of the intelligence of men. Most of which makes no sense. Unfortunately, today many believers are better at quoting these famous characters than they are at emulating them. But only in doing so does He get the glory and we get the victory.
Our personal victories are far too numerous to mention here. But I do consider my book’s existence, and how it came about as a tangible confirmation of this truth. There is nothing about it that came by luck, hard work or coincidence. It was a literal impossibility on a multitude of levels. Something the reader will see and be astonished by. And hopefully will walk away inspired to not only put God first, but to literally seek Him instead of anything else.
I suppose the point is this: I get through these moments by allowing the Word to divide my spirit and soul (Hebrews 4:12) so I can see the difference. This is where His voice becomes clear, and then I chose not to lean upon my own understanding—which in most cases includes the opinions of others. If we can learn to listen through intimacy—trusting that He is a good Father who wants us to follow His instructions, then all we are left with is whether or not we have the courage to actually follow them. He will do the rest.
In essence, God hasn’t made it difficult to hear His voice. Our struggle is that we rely upon convention to navigate, even when we feel pulled (spiritually, not emotionally) in the opposite direction. This is where most of stop out of fear and call it wisdom, or say things like “yes, but this is reality” while we go on quoting those whose only reality was God’s instructions. Learning the difference has made all the difference for me and my family….
Who in your childhood or early years (perhaps a parent, grandparent, Sunday school teacher) significantly impacted your faith? Subsequently, what impact have you seen your story have on others?
Honestly, when people ask me who my mentors were, or are, all I can say is the men and women of scripture who gave us the radical examples of what living by faith actually means. That said, however, I love the great men of faith in modern history, such as George Mueller, Andrew Murray, etc. They are also very inspiring because they actually lived out their faith, and recorded it for us to see that it can be done—and not just by those in scripture.
I think my story has impact because it is real, and truly vulnerable. It reaches people on a deeper level because it is a story of faith with consequences and amazing rewards—impossible victories and imperfect steps. Sure we all like a good underdog story, and hopefully you get that too, but in my heart of hearts, I believe it touches on something that most of us crave but few are willing to give everything for. Mostly because we just don’t realize how good God truly is. So, perhaps the greatest impact comes from the fact that it is a living breathing testimony with confirmation after confirmation of His goodness.
A few fun questions…
When the words aren’t flowing—or when you want to celebrate if they are—what is your favorite comfort food and why?
My favorite food is always fried chicken, mashed potatoes and peas—any kind of peas. I like it just about any day of the week, but frankly, don’t get to eat it very often.
Truthfully when I struggle to find words, I just stop and wait. God always has a way of delivering what He wants, at just the right time. Sometimes that means waiting for an uncomfortable amount of time—but it works for me.
This website features musicians as well as writers. Do you have musical, as well as literary, talent?
I’m most inspired by the music of Misty Edwards and Jesus Culture. Misty has a way of singing out the scriptures that penetrates my heart like few others. As for secular music, I’ve always been moved by the lyrics and music of U2—it is much like the Old Testament cry for God and also reminds me of my youth.
I love to read authors who are challenging and find it most in older material such as C.S. Lewis, Andrew Murray and Watchman Nee to name a few.
If you were a song, what kind of song would you be?
Definitely a Psalm and probably Psalm 40—at least the first few lines.
In the story that is your life, are you the tall, dark stranger; the romantic lead; the mythical warrior; the mad scientist; or the child in an adult’s body?
Well, I’ve never thought of like that, but if I had to choose, I would probably say a child in an adult’s body. I have a deep longing to remain a child before my Heavenly Father—so I suppose that would fit the best.
I’m a dog lover. Please tell us about your pets, if any, or your favorite pet as a child.
I love dogs, especially big dogs. We have an Anatolian Shepherd and she is very much in need of affection—so it’s a win-win for me as I love to give it and get it. She is always willing and has the kindest eyes. She is much the way I would like to always be… If I could.
Thank you, Kevin. It’s a pleasure to have you as a guest at DivineDetour.
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For more information about Kevin and The Extravagant Fool, visit his blog. Read the beginning of the book here.
To purchase The Extravagant Fool, logon to:
Kevin, congratulations. I remember first stumbling onto your blog a while back and finding your posts very inspiring, and so raw honesty. Blessings on your book, may it reach many struggling hearts.
Kathy, thanks for another great interview!
I agree, Elaine. Kevin has an inspiring story!