I’ve been writing since I was a child. My first self-publication was a folded and stapled booklet of very bad poetry that I printed and illustrated with crayons that were in dire need of sharpening. I was eight years old and my readership was comprised of two people – my parents. Many decades later, I have to admit that I still tend toward creating and publishing things on my own. I’ve co-published and edited local church magazines and also started a multi-denominational paper that we circulated in our town’s local churches, cafes and doctor’s offices.
I’ve learned a lot through these small ventures, not least of which is that God is more interested in my character than my mission. I tend to be a tad idealistic and wade into literary ventures with a vivid “big picture” in mind. Concerning the multi-denominational paper I mentioned, my heart’s goal was to help a very divided Body of Christ to develop a stronger sense of communion with one another. That sounds good, don’t you think? In one of his last recorded prayers, Jesus asked for unity among believers.
I don’t know if my two years at the helm of that little paper contributed much to unity among the local church bodies, but I did discover that there was a certain disharmony within my own heart that had so far escaped my awareness and which God wanted to address. It was in the crucible of some challenging and painful experiences during those years of working with others on that publication that God started to refine my attitude.
Until that time, I’d considered myself to be a peaceable and fairly easy-going person who was learning to love others. As an editor, I tried to be sensitive toward my largely inexperienced group of contributing writers. Some of their pieces were very rough around the edges and it was difficult to balance my desire to publish a paper full of clear, well-written articles with my equally strong wish to encourage and help up-and-coming writers. There was lots of e-mailing back and forth in addition to phone calls with people who hadn’t yet joined the computer age. I understood well that God cared about those people and that I must try to see them through His eyes, but a considerable chasm stretches between the knowing and the doing in such matters!
This juggling act, though difficult, was going pretty well until a challenge came along that was just a bit too large for my heart to accommodate. I’d asked a friend to help me edit the paper and we had a disagreement about something that, looking back, seems rather unimportant. At the time, I felt that the ideals underpinning the paper’s “mission” would be compromised if I allowed her to include a certain item in the paper. We ended up dissolving the partnership and she moved on to other activities. The friendship faded too.
Has that ever happened to you? Perhaps, like me, your ideals or pet viewpoints have trumped God’s call to love and exercise peaceful unity with other believers. These things tend to rise to the surface and show themselves when our passions are involved. If writing is your passion, then it’s likely this will happen at some point. Maybe an editor wants to cut precious material from your book or a fellow writer suggests improvements to an article. Bloggers have the unique opportunity to hear immediate, unsolicited criticism of their writing and/or ideas in the comments section.
The only advice I will offer is this: consider the crucible opportunity and go from there. God be with you!
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