I’ve been away for a few days and am now back in the saddle. I asked my Facebook friends for some ideas for my next blog and got some great responses. I’ll answer the first one now and try to answer the others over the course of the next few days.
Lori Roeleveld says: We read a lot about handling rejection. I’d like to hear something about preparing spiritually for success.
I hope I’m understanding Lori’s question correctly, so here goes.
Preparing spiritually for success isn’t much different than preparing for “failure.” I have to use quote marks there because there really is no such thing as failure for a Christian writer. And that’s why there aren’t many differences in the way we prepare ourselves for the results of what we write.
At some point—hopefully very early on—a Christian writer has to develop a deep sense that God is sovereign in what happens to this magnificent gift we call writing. Is He going to use it to reach many or just a few? In either case, it’s really all up to Him, not us. Sure, we do all the necessary preparation and follow through—the actual research, the writing, the submitting, the praying, and all the rest of it. But unless we know that God orders our steps, we’re going to be in for much greater disappointment than is necessary. In my previous blog I mentioned the disappointment I felt when a project I’d been working on for two years fell apart. But even as I experienced the disappointment, I had to acknowledge “the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away.” I had been praying for that project every step of the way. So when it ended, I had to accept that too was the hand of God. One of the worst things a writer can do is allow disappointment or discouragement to end or derail a writing career. The only thing that should end a writing career for a Christian is a true sense in our spirit that God has called us to something else.
Just as so-called “failure” must not discourage us, neither should success cause us to become puffed up. Although I still go through the down emotions when I receive a rejection, I also experience joy at an acceptance and I’m overjoyed when I receive a letter from a reader whose life has been impacted by something I’ve written. And regarding the latter, I have to honestly say that when I read such a letter, I know more than anybody else how truly any work done in the reader was something God accomplished, not something I can take credit for. Just as in failure, so too in success you can’t let your emotions play too large a part in judging your work. Move on in the face of apparent failure and move on in the face of apparent success.
Lori, I guess that’s a long way of saying that success is something God does with our writing, not something we do. Knowing that will help us handle it wisely.
I want to add, too, that I believe Christian writers should expect to succeed. If I were to offer a “step-by-step” plan for success for Chrisitan writers, it would look something like this:
1. Be sure your writing is totally surrendered to God.
2. Pray for success and believe for success.
3. Learn the ropes.
4. Always do the next thing you know to do. Don’t look too far ahead.
5. Leave the results to God.
Next up I’ll tackle Bob Russell’s question which is related to Lori’s: What is success as a writer and how do you know when you ‘ve achieved it? How do you measure it? Book sales? Satisfaction? Lives changed?