The #1 Hardest Thing About Being a Christian Writer

It’s not the criticism for your faith, it’s not the market, it’s not even the clashing views on what is Christian.

It’s knowing that God can and will take your writing away from you. Unless you give it to him first.

Many of you just breathed a sigh of relief, I bet. “Oh, well that’s fine, then. I’ve already given my writing to God.”

Did you? Did you really give your writing to God? Or did you just dedicate it to him? Many Christian authors say they’re writing for Jesus, using their talents to create Christian content, and that’s good. But that’s only dedicating it to God. Giving it to him is a different matter.

When a musician dedicates a song to his wife, he does it in her honor. But when he gives the song to her, he gives her full control of it. She can burn it, sell it and make a profit under her own name, put it on the fridge and never let anybody see it, change the lyrics to be more like Justin Beiber, add in a rap, turn it into an instrumental, make it into an African dance-polka, whatever she wants.

But the musician no longer has any say. Neither does the writer who gives his gift to God.

The Bad News

Maybe you think God has told you to be a writer–and you may be right. I know God has made me one.

But God also told Israel they would last forever. He told Saul to be King. He made Adam king of the Garden of Eden. Yet none of those things came to be. Why? Because they valued those things more than God.

I always thought being a Christian writer meant writing in a Godly way. Lately, God has broken me, wholly and utterly. He’s revealed that if I wasn’t a writer, I could not imagine a happy future. It’s who I am, a wordsmith and creator. So when I struggle to be a writer, my hope crumbles and I fall into extraordinary depression.

My hope is in the wrong thing. Even though it’s a God-given, God-honoring thing. If we put anything, ANYTHING before God, he will snatch it out of our hands, or at the very least, sit back and watch it shatter.

Which brings us back to the hardest thing: giving our writing to God. Completely. Letting him decide which books to write. When our careers take off. What kind of success we get.

It means giving God the authority to take your writing away entirely. To make sure you never, ever see your dreams come true. Because you’ve chosen God instead.

Can you do that?

The Good News

What happens when God’s people give away their hope? They find it.

Abraham made to sacrifice the son and legacy God promised him…and got to keep both. David allowed himself to live in squalor and terror rather than seize the kingdom…and got that kingdom. Jesus surrendered his very life…and got eternal life.

Seeing the pattern? We only keep what we give up entirely. Abraham’s hope wasn’t in Isaac, nor David’s in a throne, nor Jesus’s in his flesh. They all placed their trust in God alone.

So it is for Christian writers. If you clutch your writing, God will show you who’s really in charge. But if you can hand God your craft, utterly and completely, he will make you the writer he wants you to be.

And remember: God’s ways are infinitely better than ours. Abraham could have had one son, but he got a nation as a legacy. David could have been any old king, but he became the greatest king instead. Jesus could’ve saved his life, but now he lives forever.

You can be a writer, and even have some worldly success. But you’ll never reach your potential, never go the places God wants you to go, make the impact God wants you to make unless you first give up your writing to God.

This means more time in prayer and less building your brand on Twitter. It means learning to hear God’s voice more than your audience’s. And it means having absolutely no dreams, goals, or plans except those God gives you–and even then, letting them come about in his time, not yours.

God demands everything because he gives everything.

I cannot just dedicate my work to God. I have to give it to him. If I don’t, he may very well take it from me, rob me of success and hope until I realize he’s the only true hope I have for a fulfilling life. The gift must never surpass the giver.

Same to you. Don’t just give God glory, honor, and credit. Give him that piece of your heart you’ve kept for yourself.

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21 thoughts on “The #1 Hardest Thing About Being a Christian Writer

  1. I wish God would take away more writers’ words. Have you seen the talentless dreck out there? It is discouraging, and when the writer touts about being a Christian and acts like that means other Christians have to read their book and like it, well, that leaves a bad taste in everybody’s mouth.

    I hope your book is good and gets the attention it deserves…

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks a million, I hope both things, too. Yeah, I do get sad when Christians say “It’s Christian, so it’s good and we have to support it.” Support the intention, yes, but not the finished product. A Christian car that doesn’t drive is not going to get by on good intentions.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for the reminder to refocus on the Giver rather than the gifts 🙂
    If I may, I think it can be tempting for a Christian (in any profession) to take this idea and go too far the opposite direction as well- “I’m not having success! I thought I had given it all to God, but it’s not going the way I want it to- what am I doing wrong?” The focus goes to what WE are giving to him, and what we expect in return, rather than on grace (the gifts given without our deserving) or on the wonders of God’s timing. After all, one more good Biblical example is Joseph- he kept having what looked like all kinds of ‘success’ coming his way, and kept getting derailed by corrupt people and rotten situations, in spite of his devotion. In the end his losses weren’t a chastisement to him, and all of his struggles wound up saving countless lives and giving him a success he’d never planned for or dreamed of.
    Wow- this is turning into a novel 🙂 Short form- Yay for giving it all to God, and thanks for his mercy when I fail to do so, and for all of the good gifts he still provides in spite of me.
    Thanks for a thought-provoking post!

    Liked by 5 people

  3. Yes, we should surrender our lives to God in every facet. It’s impossible for us this side of Heaven, but we’re better off for striving toward that goal. However, that doesn’t mean we’re meant to surrender all our plans and ambitions to the fire just because God hasn’t shown us that’s what He wants for us.

    We should be willing to go where God leads. Without question, hesitation, or any guff whatsoever. That means if I have to lose everything I’ve worked for and then some, so be it, and gladly. That’s the ideal, mind you. I’m not claiming I’ve arrived at it. We are, however, finite. I haven’t ever heard a voice from Heaven, in an audible sense. Unfortunately I’ve never gotten a divine memo in my inbox, or an email from the Almighty.

    What I mean is, we can use wisdom and divine guidance to make our plans, but that only goes so far. Yet we still have freedom to plan and be ambitious. I’d like to make millions of dollars as a writer, because of the things I’d like to do with those millions (community-centered stuff). Is that in God’s plan? No idea, but I won’t know unless I try.

    You have the freedom to be who you are and to dream of the desires of your heart, but “seek FIRST the Kingdom of God and His righteousness.” Hold onto your dreams and work toward them, but be willing to let go if God says so. Don’t just give up what you want and wait for God to reveal His plans. You can pray ’til your knees break for Him to show you, and He’s under no obligation to give you specifics.

    “Do justly. Love mercy. Walk humbly with God. Love God, your neighbor, and yourself. Work hard.” These and other commandments are what God reveals to us as His plan (and His will). It’s a waste to ignore your talent, which for a writer includes building a platform, learning about readers, and so on. We can “pray without ceasing” by working hard to develop our talent and working toward goals as God guides us.

    Our relationship with God is interactive. We give God our input and He guides us, but He’s not going to lay it out for us, even piece by piece. We’re allowed freedom to be who we are and go after what we want, if we remember to put God first, not God only.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. Interesting thoughts. The first thing that comes to mind is Psalm 37:4 “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.”
    What does it mean to “delight” yourself in the Lord? Same thing as giving your writing to Him. And when we do that, sometimes the desires of our hearts change to be in alignment with His. A very good thing! And He gives us peace, even if He ends up taking away what we thought we needed.
    Once upon a time, I had a contract for a novel. And through some painful circumstances, God took it away. I cried out to Him, “Did I hear You wrong, Lord? I prayed for direction and felt led by You to sign the contract!”
    And you know what? He *did* want me to sign, go through some incredibly painful things, and then have to terminate it. And I learned SO MUCH, which has actually validated me as an author who knows her voice and is now more confident in her writing.
    And you know what else? He gave it back to me. 🙂 I’m now negotiating another contract for the SAME novel and I adore the editor and can’t wait to announce it to the world!

    Liked by 3 people

  5. I sighed with relief when I realized that no one should bring this level of religious self-condemnation into their writing philosophy. I don’t buy the God as legalistic fundie Muse theme you tried to build here because it’s not really in the Bible. God gives good gifts. Quit trying to put burdens on people in an attempt to further spiritualize this vocation.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. “…for the writing which is written in the king’s name, and sealed with the king’s ring, may no man reverse.” Esther 8:8

    A written work that will make lasting impact upon the heart, should bear God’s endorsement. If He told us what to write, how and when to write, such work will bear His seal. With His seal on it, no man can reverse or ignore it.

    We write for our King and not for any earthly glory, though glory may attend our way.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. If it wouldn’t take so much space, I’d tell you my story. I thought, at one point, that writing was my calling from God. Then God very clearly took it away from me for a decade. Sent me right out into the world to make a living and face up with some of the worst of ungodly elements. To this day, I’m not sure why. Was I too proud? Did I need to learn some more lessons? I became quite successful at what I did in between, but a year ago, God took that away too. Now it seems like maybe He wants me back into writing. Or at least is allowing me to get back into it. But in the meantime, I had a mini stroke and came down with Crone’s Disease. And my mind just doesn’t work like it used to. So I’m not sure what the future holds. But your blog did touch a spot in my heart. Praise God, brother. Let Him work. If He needs to crush us, so be it.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. This is so powerful. It’s exactly what I needed to hear after “failing” as an author. I’m at this junction where I feel like I need to surrender my dreams and ambitions as a writer to Him. I always felt like I already have, but this post has given such a new depth and light to what it means to give Him everything. I love how you mentioned spending more time in prayer than building a brand. I feel like that’s exactly where He is leading me these days. Thank you, online stranger. Your words have been a blessing to me. Praise God!

    Like

    1. I’m glad my words could help. I’m in that same place, surrendering daily while trying not to get caught up in the world’s hype. What’ it gain a man to gain all the followers if he loses his soul?
      Hmm, that didn’t quite work, but you get the idea.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Thank you. There have been many times through the years that I have had to give my writing back to God, to take the time to make sure where I am or where I am going are really the places He has for me. I have found it isn’t once and done, but something to repeat on a regular basis. And it isn’t just with our writing. It is with all ministry, every dream, and our families.

    Like

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