Saturday, October 16, 2010

Tested by Praise

Today in my Bible reading I came across a Scripture that hit me over the head. You know that type? You're reading along and all of the sudden something pops out? This is what I saw:

Fire tests the purity of silver and gold, but a person is tested by being praised. Proverbs 27:21 (New Living)

Usually as writers we think it's the negative reviews and critiques we have to watch out for. Those are the ones that can derail us and set us off into a hole of self-doubt. Right? Sure, we can be impacted by negative reviews, but what about the positive ones?

Now I'm not saying we shouldn't listen to praise from our peers, family and friends. We all need encouragement. But something I was very surprised to find when my first novel got published was the temptation to believe my own press. Not that I got many huge, glowing endorsements or beautiful reviews in prestigious publications. Sometimes my test came just from someone telling me, "After the years you put into it, you deserved to be published." It would be very easy to think, "Yeah, I do deserve this."

The problem with that type of thinking, for me at least, is it can (notice I say can) lead to a wrong attitude about why, as a Christian writer, I'm doing what I'm doing. The truth of the matter is I don't deserve anything more than the next gal.

This same principle can apply to critiques of our as-yet-unpublished writing too. If someone tells us we're the next Jane Austen, and we let ourselves believe it, it could possibly make it harder for us to receive constructive criticism from an editor. After all, we write like Jane Austen. Why would we need to change anything?

You see what I mean?

So the key in all this is not to beat ourselves up and never receive praise but to remember every good thing comes from above. If our writing connects with someone, it's because of God's grace and His giftings in our lives. Not because we're better than anyone else. This will help us keep a balanced perspective when the good reviews roll in, but also when the bad ones come (and they will). Neither one should derail us.

What do you think about this subject, friends?


  1. Good thoughts! I think both sides of the spectrum are equally destructive, whether that's pride or incredibly bad self esteem. There's a balance where we find our middle ground, our self worth in Jesus. As long as we know as Christian authors that we could write nothing worthwhile without Him, we will be fine and can enjoy the compliments and learn from the criticism while keeping our heads :)

  2. That is so true! Thanks for this great post. People are always complimenting me, and while I am still my own worst critic, there is always the temptation to get a big head....