On one of my social media platforms, I came across a link to a lovely blog post about how sometimes you do everything right as an author, but things still go wrong. It was an insightful, beautifully crafted, and encouraging post. I didn’t realize the blog was attached to a literary agency representing authors in the inspirational genre until I read this:
“…I heard countless people talking about all they were doing to fulfill this task God has given them to write.”
That line got under my skin. After sleeping on it, I realized why.
No activity is more ego-driven than trying to publish a novel. Seriously. You’re shouting “Listen—I’ve got something important to say!” and “Look—isn’t this pretty?” to everyone you know and throngs of people you don’t. The fact that you’re telling them your novel contains a message from God Almighty, and that’s the reason you’re writing it, doesn’t make it less of an ego trip.
What did Jesus say about declaring to the world that you’re doing God’s work? “When thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee…And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily, I say unto you, They have their reward.” (Matthew 6:2, 6:5, KJV)
So for those claiming to have been called by God to write, consider this: Maybe God’s task for you isn’t to write. Maybe it’s to fail at publishing, so you can learn humility.
I’m not suggesting, at all, that God doesn’t speak to the world through every one of us, including authors. I wouldn’t write the novels I do if I didn’t believe they glorify God. Maybe God has called me to write about gay men having hot sex in the context of a loving, monogamous relationship as a way to help young men struggling with their sexuality feel joy instead of shame.
But who am I to claim that? How can I ever possibly know?
Even if God is speaking through these authors who claim that writing is God’s task for them, these authors do not speak for God.
Art feels bigger than the artist who created it, but it’s not a divine creation. Claiming you’re God’s mouthpiece only makes you seem more arrogant.
Plus, it puts your failures on God, instead of on you, where they belong.
Give God credit for your successes, by all means. But failure comes from being a fallible human in a fallible world. Don’t expect an easier path because your work glorifies God. We all, by our very existence, glorify God. That novel you’re writing is no more important than the asphalt your neighbor is shoveling to fix a pothole in the street. Yet people don’t go around saying that God has tasked them with shoveling asphalt. Don’t be fooled into believing that it’s an extension of your faith to say that God has tasked you to write. Because that, my friend, is your ego talking.