Thursday, October 26, 2017

The Testing Of a Writer's Character

by Henry McLaughlin @RiverBendSagas

Until the time came to fulfill his dreams, the Lord tested Joseph’s character. Psalm 105:19 (NLT)

In the Old Testament, God tested Joseph. A lot. Mistreated by his brothers. Sold into slavery. Falsely accused of rape. Thrown into prison. Forgotten by those he helped.

Did you ever wonder why Joseph had to go through so many tests? Psalm 105:19 tells us God did it to test his character. And it sounds like Joey had some stuff to work through.
First, his prideful attitude toward his brothers had to go, to be replaced by humility. Then he had to learn and demonstrate integrity and honesty while he tended Potiphar’s estate and resisted the man’s seductive wife. Then patience while he sat in the prison cell, forgotten by those he’d helped get out.

Above all, he had to learn to trust God as his only source. Then he was fit for the master’s use.

If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities.
Luke 16:10 (NLT)

Joey had to demonstrate faithfulness in the little things in each place God put him.  He learned to trust God, not himself. He learned to depend on God’s plan and provision, not his own wiles.

I’ve seen God do the same thing in my life. Every promotion was preceded by a phase of learning and testing where he filed the rough edges off (and sometimes he had to use a power washer) to prepare me for the next step.

This has really manifested in this writing career he’s called me to. First, I had to learn the craft of writing. Not just English composition but story telling, character building, learning more about people (and thus more about myself) and the things I wanted to write about.

This lead to the Christian Writers Guild courses, to critique groups, to a mentor. Each step was a test. Could I apply myself to writing? Could I learn to accept criticism? Could I learn to apply it to my writing? Could I put my super-sensitive ego aside and open myself to hearing things I didn’t want to hear? Could I learn to accept rejection? And could I use these rejections to move forward and become better?

 And I learned. Sometimes it was harder than others. Sometimes I was on the verge of giving it all up and go be a greeter at Wal-Mart. Here he tested my diligence and my patience.

And I’ve seen doors open I didn’t expect. Doors to coach and mentor, to lead groups, to edit. To help other writers become better and to see them published.

Yeah, he’s tested me and improved me and brought me into the larger things. And he continues to test and improve me, preparing me to move into even larger things.

Henry’s debut novel, Journey to Riverbend, won the 2009 Operation First Novel contest. 

He serves as Associate Director of North Texas Christian Writers. 

Henry edits novels, leads critique groups, and teaches at conferences and workshops. He enjoys mentoring and coaching individual writers. 

Connect with Henry on his blogTwitter and Facebook.


  1. Well stated sir! Growth is crucial in all areas of our lives; both spiritual and professional. As I am learning (slowly it seems), these two areas aren't separate at all.

  2. Thank you, Jim. I agree with your comment. My growth professionally couldn't have happened unless I grew spiritually.

  3. Thank you for your most inspiring post. It is a keeper!

    When I first started writing novels, my writing mentor said to me that learning to write fiction is more about growing in Christ than about writing stories. She was right!


    MaryAnn Diorio, PhD, MFA
    Author & Writing Coach

  4. Thank you for this encouragement. As a new author, some of my wounds from rejection are still a little raw (in a good way), but I wouldn't trade those experiences for a spot on a bestseller list. (Well, maybe that's a little white lie.) :) Rejection acquainted me with the industry and grew me as a writer and a person. Seeing God's hand in all of it grew my faith.

    1. Yes, Karen. Even through the rejections, God is with us.

  5. Excellent post. So glad you didn't decide to go the Wal-mart route.

    1. Thank you, Chris. I'm glad I missed Wal-Mart, too. Who knows what I might have done there.

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  7. Wonderful post. Joseph has always been an inspiration of perseverance and trusting God. Thank you!

    1. Joseph's example has always been an inspiration for me. Both his maturing process and his faithfulness.