Wednesday, April 8, 2015

For Writers: Freedom from Fear

by Jennifer Slattery @Jenslattery

When I first sensed God’s call to write, I tried to ignore Him. The very idea seemed completely irrational. Spend my time, maybe a decade or more, pursuing an unpredictable, subjective career? One with no job security and where every contract is tentative and dependent on the sales of a previously released book.

Couldn’t I do something easier? Something more . . . productive? More lucrative?

But then the pastor of our old church gave a sermon on the managers with the talents. As I listened, I knew God was calling me out.

You’re probably familiar with the story. In a nutshell, three men were given a sum of money and told to manage it while their boss went on a trip. Two of the men invested the money, earning more than they were given. The third man allowed fear to dominate his actions.

When his boss returned, this is what he said: “Master, I knew you were a harsh man, harvesting crops you didn’t plant and gathering crops you didn’t cultivate. I was afraid I would lose your money, so I hid it in the earth. Look, here is your money back.”

The boss’s response: “You wicked and lazy servant.”

Wicked and lazy.

I find that response interesting.

Could it be fear is rooted in self love? And yet, Christ calls us to die to ourselves, to surrender our rights, hopes, and dreams. To offer our talents, however big or small, to be used by God, as He sees fit.

That’s a game changer. Imagine writing completely free of fear, your only driving force being your love for Christ and obedience to Him. You’ll pursue excellence, for He deserves it, but you’ll no longer feel driven by the need to perform. To measure up. Because in Christ, you already do.

So how does this play out in life? I thought this pressure to perform would lessen once I got published. I was wrong. With every review, interview, and Amazon ranking, this pressure only increased. And it began to cloud out my calling, to overshadow my gift as questions like, “Is this marketable?” occupied my thoughts.

The solution? I had to bring everything back to obedience and surrender. I needed to remember, daily, what Christ had done for me, the price He paid to set me free. In light of that, surrender became easy. The only rational response, really. And in surrender, I found freedom. And in freedom, my creativity blossomed.

Will what I write today be marketable tomorrow? I don’t know. But if done in surrendered obedience, regardless of my sales rankings, my crucified and risen Lord will say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” Catch his ending phrase: “You’ve been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities.”

That’s grace.  


What about you? Have you allowed fear to hold you back? To pull you toward the easy or predictable? To quiet your creativity and hinder your freedom? If so, pause to contemplate what Christ did for you on the cross. He gave His all so you might live. Does that not give you every reason to live fully for Him?

TWEETABLES


Jennifer Slattery writes soul-stirring fiction for New Hope Publishers, a publishing house passionate about bringing God’s healing grace and truth to the hopeless. She also writes for Crosswalk.com, Internet CafĂ© Devotions, and the group blog, Faith-filled Friends. When not writing, Jennifer loves going on mall dates with her teenage daughter and coffee dates with her handsome railroader husband.
Visit with Jennifer online at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud. 

Her debut novel, Beyond I Do, is currently on sale at Amazon for under $4 (print and kindle version) Read a free, 36-page excerpt here: http://issuu.com/newhopedigital/docs/slattery_sampler/1

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19 comments:

  1. This sounds like me. I did not want to write. I do not consider myself a good writer. I am a Speaker/Teacher. Ask any of my friends, I could talk about God for hours but to put all my speaking notes in book form? That is way too much work. I know this one thing, God wants me to write and He will equip me. Like you I am being obedient and striving for excellence. That is one reason I read this blog. There is great advice and instruction about writing here. Thanks for your contribution.

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    1. Hi, Cherrilynn,

      You know, I've heard it said and found it to be true, teachers often make the best writers. :) And you are so right! It really isn't about or up to us. It's about surrendering to Him and allowing Him to work through us. That's when our words, spoken or written, become powerful. I think it's awesome that you chose to obey even though you felt ill-equipped.

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  2. Hi Jennifer -

    Excellent article! With all the ups and downs of the writer's life, it's easy to lose focus on why we're writing. I also answered the call to write. The journey has included twists and turns that would be a credit to my favorite novelists. Yet, following Him, my heart is at peace.

    Thanks for putting into words and reminding us that He's first, and obeying Him is the ultimate success.

    God bless,
    Susan

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    1. Hi, Susan, thanks for the encouraging words! I agree! I find this is a daily battle for me, to reroute my thoughts, taking them off me, my selfishness, need for accolades, whatever, and placing it back on Christ and His eternal mission. I'm so thankful for His patience and grace, because I sure need it! :)

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  3. Well done. I like this. It cuts right down to the bottom line. Thanks!

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    1. Hi, Rhonda, thanks so much for taking the time to pop in and join the conversation. You encouraged me! :) Have a blessed day!

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  4. Enjoyed your post today, and I take away inspiration to maintain focus.

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    1. Hi, Ginger! I'm so glad you were inspired by this post. :) Blessings!

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  5. What a great post, Jennifer! Thank you for being faithful with your talents because God used this to bless me in a big way. I need to read this every day before I write. Richest blessings on your writing for Him. :)

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    1. Thanks, Cindy, as I shared with Susan, this is a daily challenge for me, and I often get it wrong, allowing pride, greed, or self-preservation to get in the way, but God is so attentive and faithful, whenever I veer out of His will or away from His heart, He gently draws me back and invites me to allow Him to transform my thinking. And you know what? I think I need to read this post daily, too! To remind me of how awesome God is and what a privilege it is to be serving Him--not myself! :)

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  6. Thank you so much for this important article, Jennifer! This sounds like my daily struggle, as well. I especially love the way that you addressed that ongoing, niggling question, "Is this marketable?" That's the question that always gets to me and can stifle my creativity or make me veer away from writing what I really want to write. I struggle with knowing when I actually need to heed that question and make wise choices that will be marketable and when I just need to follow the desire for writing a different story God may have placed on my heart. Thanks for addressing this.

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    1. Hi, Jerusha! I'm so glad you found today's post encouraging. :) I think the question on whether our work is marketable is almost drilled in our heads as writers, making it all the harder to resist it's pull. In regard to knowing what to heed and what not to, that's hard. I suppose that's a constant struggle as well. :) I'd say you really have to go with your gut and trust that God will lead you. I've learned, going through editing, there are some things I'm fine with changing and others I'm not. As long as my voice and the story stays intact and there aren't any conflicts theologically, I'm normally okay with changes. I'd say also, there's a difference between being wise and stressing over it, if that makes sense. We can and should be wise in our dealings, and I think it's okay to write marketable work. The problem comes when our desire to write marketable work paralyzes us or overshadows our desire to please God. Does that make sense? At least, that's my thoughts on the matter. :)

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  7. Thank you for this great post! It's amazing how easy it is to give in to fear, instead of trusting the One who called us who will also enable us.

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    1. I agree, Bethany! We're an insecure bunch, aren't we?

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  8. This is so important, and just what I needed to hear today. Thank you for the inspiration, and Happy Easter!

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    1. I'm so glad! And Happy Easter to you as well!

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  9. I think of that parable so often--but hadn't connected it with fear and self-love. Makes sense--and that makes the master's response even scarier. Thanks, Jen. I needed to hear this.

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  10. I agree w/Patty and everyone else. You hit a NERVE out here, Jennifer! Would you believe I just read this parable yesterday, and the message is still the same (though I'm in my sixth decade) - STICK YOUR NECK OUT….go for it!! Thanks for the reminder this morning.

    Gail

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  11. What a great post...needed to be reminded of the need for obedience and surrender...that's where freedom and creativity flows! Thanks for sharing!

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