Welcome to Part 6 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 yet read previous installments of the Writing by Faith series, you can do so here.
Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: From such withdraw thyself. But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.1 Timothy 6:5-7, KJV
In a society that constantly enables our growing addiction to instant gratification, even Christian authors can fall into the traps of comparison and discontent. It always seems like someone else has a bigger readership and makes more royalties, making us feel like we can never reach that point.
This type of thinking can be detrimental for both new and seasoned authors. As the verses from 1 Timothy above state, gain is, in fact, not godliness, but godliness with contentment is great gain. What do these messages entail, and how can we develop a mindset toward our authorship that is pleasing to God?
Comparison is Not Wise
Seeking Popularity Over God is Detrimental
The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts.Psalm 10;4, KJV
The Bible warns against pride multiple times, and it says pride is just before destruction. The biggest, and most glaring example, is Satan’s backstory. He once dwelled in Heaven, but he became jealous of God’s authority, and was kicked out of Heaven (Revelation 12:7-9). Satan is arrogant, self-exalting, and wants God’s power for himself. Thousands of years later, Satan is still trying to unseat our Lord. As promised in the book of Revelation, Satan has never had a chance, and will ultimately fail upon Jesus’s return.
Now, what does any of this have to do with being a Christian author?
Because the overwhelming majority of us seek to write and publish Christian works to spread the word of God while making money, it is so easy for pride, and all its side-effects, to slip into our minds. If we find one reader, we then want two. If we reach 500, 1,000 is our next goal. If our author journey is not completely centered on God, we may begin to exalt ourselves over Him. We will be living out the days we prayed for, forgetting Who got us there. We begin relying on ourselves more than talking things over with God. And slowly but surely, we’ll end up crashing and burning, because our selfish pride has derailed us.
This is my personal testimony. When I released my first book, I was on fire for God, but then, author duties began to take priority. I stopped reading my Bible. God became an afterthought in my personal life, even though I was still writing Christian fiction. Over time, life circumstances outside of writing took a spiritual toll on me, and I strayed further from Him. It wasn’t until I realized how hideously prideful I had allowed myself to become, relying on myself to make this dream come true instead of God, that I knew I had to seek God first. This fall from pride is why the Writing by Faith series exists today.
The one and only way to not let pride take control is to put God first, and consult with Him first, in all aspects of our author careers (and lives, to be honest). Yes, as authors, we work for ourselves. But, as Christian authors, we should not ultimately think of ourselves as the boss. God’s the boss. His Will will ultimately have the overall say in anything we do. Let God do His thing, and release the reins. Just do as He leads you, and you’ll be golden. And be sure to…
Ignore Those Who Commend Themselves
For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves are not wise.2 Corinthians 10:12, KJV
Going back to the topic of instant gratification, social media can be a wasteland of prideful authors and temptation for discontent. According to the verse above, it is vital for us to not participate in that type of behavior, for those who do are not wise.
Does this mean I am advising Christian authors to not take part in social media, or not be friends with authors who do not write Christian books? Not at all; however, we do need to suit up in the armor of God whenever we log on, and learn to recognize when the accounts we follow are not serving our mental and spiritual wellbeing.
How can we figure out when we need to mute or unfollow an account? Well, let’s look back at the verse:
1) If we develop a habit of comparing our stats to this person’s, we need to remove the temptation.
2) The account posts mainly “look at me!” content, with little to no valuable content that encourages or helps others.
3) The account is thriving, but always continues to post about wanting more followers, sales, etc.
While there is a common argument that we should not unfollow people who we compare ourselves to, because we need to become confident in our own worth, if an account is posting in the ways points 2 and 3 describe, and you’re noticing it is hindering your partnership with God, you have every right to mute, unfollow, or block them. Your relationship with God matters more than some arrogant author on Instagram or Twitter, and as Proverbs 4:23 says, we are to keep our hearts with all diligence, for out of it come the issues of life. Let’s strive to only let encouraging or edifying messages into our hearts, and guard ourselves against anything that makes us question God’s leadership.
There is Great Gain in Godliness with Contentment
God Will Supply All Our Needs
Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound; every where and in all things I am instructed to both be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.Philippians 4:1-13, KJV
Every time I read the first few books of the Old Testament, I think the Israelites were absolutely crazy. God performed miracle after miracle for them, literally gave them manna from the sky, and they still had the nerve to express discontentment and try to figure out alternative ways, on their own, to get what they wanted. I thought they were complete idiots, stuck for forty years due to stubbornness, until I realized I was doing the exact same thing as a Christian author.
Instead of prayerfully consulting God before I made a decision, I tried to mirror things other authors had found success with, and then maybe gave a half-hearted “God can you please allow this to finally make my dreams come true” prayer after already implementing the new ideas.
It’s no wonder none of those things ever panned out! God was an afterthought, and all I was doing was expressing discontent and trying to do things my own way like those stubborn Israelites.
Earlier, I mentioned this Christian author journey needs to be a partnership between us and God. A successful partnership never involves one side dictating the plans without so much as running it by their partner, especially if the unwise partner is the one calling the shots. God is the author of wisdom, so He should be directing us, not the other way around. We can let God lead by talking things out with Him, and asking Him, because He is more wise, what we should do.
Furthermore, when we allow God to lead, we need to develop a content mindset as described in Philippians 4:11-13. Whether we are thriving and selling thousands of books a month, or are blessed with a single sale a year, the Bible instructs us to be content, and have faith that God can make even the most impossible things possible. But sometimes, this is easier said than done.
Jealousy Breeds Discontent, And It Needs to Stop
For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.James 3:16, KJV
The reason I focused on comparison in the first part of this post is that we first need to learn the dangers of comparison, and how it can lead to discontentment through jealousy.
Jealousy is one of Satan’s favorite tools, and it can be a major setback for Christians authors, if we allow it. According to the verse above, envy causes confusion and evil works. Okay, so what does that mean from an author’s standpoint?
You’re content in your author journey, until someone new busts up out of thin air and starts making ten times the progress you are. They’re publishing book after book, while it took you years to just write your debut. They’re rolling in royalties, while you’re still struggling to get consistent sales. You watch them and think, why can’t that be me? And once that first thought isn’t intercepted with, but God is writing my own story, and their path isn’t mine. I’m content with my own journey, Satan will go out of his way to stir the pot. This person will be everywhere.
They’ll always show up first on your Instagram feed. You’ll always find readers raving about their books on Goodreads, when you’re struggling to even find readers. And then, you go on YouTube to escape and give yourself some TLC time, and wham! YouTube is recommending their AuthorTube channel. This person has become your own personal Dinkleberg from The Fairly OddParents. And Satan is using that to his advantage, turning your attention away from God’s intentions for your purpose, and instead breeding discontent.
Jealousy only hinders us. It hinders our relationship with God, because 1) We’re basically “cheating” on Him with our insane fixation on this other person, and 2) Like this section’s verse says, it’ll just cause us to be confused.
Don’t be surprised if God becomes a silent partner while we go our own way. It’ll be like He’s giving us the chance to prove ourselves (knowing we’ll fall on our butts), and make the choice of whether to team up with Him again, or keep being a stubborn seeker of worldly “contentment” who keeps running around in circles like the Israelites.
Contentment in God, which must be sought on a day-to-day basis, is the force that truly drives out jealousy. If we can learn to take up the calling to write, make sure to consult with God in all things, and ultimately allow Him to lead, we’re halfway there. The other half requires faith that God will provide everything we need and that He will always lead us in the right direction, no matter the circumstances. God expects us, like He expected the Israelites, to be content with where we are before He allows us to move forward.
Are comparison and jealousy holding you back like they once did me? Well, my friend, if we step out and write by faith, finding contentment in God alone, someday we’ll reach the Promise Land.
Talk to Me, Arrowheads!
In what ways are you pursuing contentment in God? Let me know in the comments!
Aim high, stay strong, and always hit your mark.