Welcome to Part 2 of the Writing by Faith series for Christian authors! If you’re new to Authoring Arrowheads, be sure to subscribe so you won’t miss future series posts!
If you haven’t read Part 1, Writing by Faith: Answering the Call, you can do so here.
For what is a man profited if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?Matthew 16:26, KJV
What is Your Main Goal as a Christian Author?
As we established in Part One: Answering the Call, it is vital for Christian authors to embrace the reality that if we feel God is calling us to be a writer, we must acknowledge He gave us this gift to better His kingdom, not establish our own. It sounds easy enough, until that first book sells, or we gain an increased following on our author platforms. That’s when we get a little taste of what the world offers: fortune and fame.
Contrary to popular belief in non-writer or non-reader circles, once you publish a book (even if you are traditionally published), your career will not skyrocket overnight. In fact, it could take years to develop a steady stream of selling one book a week. Because of this, many Christian authors, including myself, have faced a diverging road early on in our careers: If I’m writing for God, and no one’s reading it, should I wait for Him to place it in the hands of those who need it, or should I take matters into my own hands?
Let me pause for a moment and interject that I don’t believe marketing Christian fiction is sinful by definition. I feel that, if someone has the right mindset, they can tackle it with no issue. However, based on my own experiences, if a Christian author approaches marketing books with the sole intention of gaining a larger readership to sell more books or make a living off the books, it can become unhealthy on many levels and damaging to your relationship with God.
The Snares of Pursuing Fame
For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.John 12:43, KJV
So, what is the right mindset? Well, remember how we established that we’re writing for God? We must also approach marketing this way. It can be tempting to bask in the glory of putting ourselves out there for the world to see and put all our energy into chasing tons and tons of amazing reviews, best-selling books, and thousands of loyal followers… but once we get there, two things may be missing: 1) No matter how much attention and success we gain, we’ll still be hungry for more, because 2) God is no longer your focus.
Yes, we wrote the books. Yes, we’ve worked hard. But is any of the success possible without God? Didn’t this all start with a nudge from God to pursue writing? And now we’ve lost Him on the way to the top because we’ve lost sight of His purpose for us and started escalating ourselves instead.
My Personal Struggle
Despite being a Christian since age eight, and claiming to be a Christian author since my debut in 2017, between late 2017 and October 2020, my personal relationship with God was shaky, at best. though I never stopped believing in God, I questioned Him and His purpose for me a lot. As in on a weekly basis, at the minimum.
As far back as I can remember, I’ve always wanted to be an author full-time and make enough to support a family. I knew it could be possible through self-publishing, as authors like Sarra Cannon and Collen Hoover are living proof. But, after Can’t Beat the Heart of a Carolina Girl released, and soon experienced no-sale months, I began to second guess if God was on my side. Working full-time in a career field that doesn’t provide personal satisfaction, I’d often have a bad day at work, check sales stats at least four times a day, and wonder why God wasn’t enabling my dream to become a reality. I’d often flip the question around in my mind that God was displeased with me due to what I’m writing, which was a lie I had ingrained in myself after receiving a few negative book reviews based on subjective content (which we’ll cover in a later post), and if He was punishing me for it by not allowing the book(s) to sell well.
As you can probably tell, I’ve had to do a lot of work on my mindset as a Christian in order to sit down today and pen the Writing by Faith series. Over the past few months, I’ve basically had to start at Ground Zero with God. First, I implemented a morning Gratitude practice, where I write down five things I’m thankful for, a quick prayer, and a prayer list. By the time this post goes live, I may have changed up this practice due to reformatting it to my bullet journal, but it’s something I hope to continue throughout 2021. Once that became a routine, I started reading my Bible for at least fifteen minutes a day, a habit I once had, but fell out of when I started publishing.
While I’m not a perfect Christian (even though that’s not even a real thing, right? 😉 ) and still let my emotions take control sometimes, I feel more aligned with God now and no longer constantly obsess over my financial success as an author or how being an author “defines” me.
Fame Fades, But God Remains the Same
For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.1 Peter 1:24-25
It’s actually kinda crazy that so many of us fall into the mind trap of defining ourselves by our passion–writing. First and foremost, we are children of God. We are products of His creation. Our Creator defines us. When we try to add definitions to ourselves, to become models after images the world has created, things can get messy.
Remember: From the time when we were created in the womb, we became children of God. He has formed each and every one of us our own soul. When we die, our bodies die with us, but our souls either go to dwell with God in Heaven, or with Satan in hell. Therefore, as Christian authors, it is vital for us to model our writing as an act to increase God’s presence rather than our own. Writing and publishing should not become our idols that cause us to stray from our Creator, our defining purpose, and hoist our own selves higher.
DISCLAIMER: I am in no way saying that you will go to hell for making a living off writing for God, or even chasing your author dreams. I am trying to illustrate how easily authors can fall into idolizing publishing, and how detrimental it can become if it gets out of hand. I speak this truth from personal experience.
If our writing makes it big and fame surpasses our death, will it be worth it if along the way to fame we completely disregarded God? If we end up in hell because the love for money and popularity became our idol–our false god–instead of putting God first?
Talk to Me, Arrowheads!
What are your thoughts on Part 2 of the Writing by Faith series? Have you found yourself straying from God at times during your author career? How have you stayed centered on God?
Aim high, stay strong, and always hit your mark.