Friday, November 13, 2020


by Joshua J. Masters @JoshuaJMasters

Christian writers feel called to take part in the creative nature of God, emulating the greatest author in (or outside) history by changing the lives of others with words. 

But God writes more than words. In fact, Scripture says you are God’s masterpiece (Ephesians 2:10). He’s authoring your life story, skillfully weaving a chronicle of hope, purpose, and transformation.

The practice of writing isn’t always easy. We crumple up our outlines, resist honest critiques, and dread the editing process. But I’m not talking about our own projects—I’m talking about our response to God’s authorship in our own lives.

Here are three ways we can better participate in God’s writing process.


Do your characters always cooperate with you? Even the strictest of outliners will sit around writing conferences regaling others with stories about their characters changing direction with little consideration for the author’s well bulleted and beloved outline. “My character has a mind of his own—I can’t believe he killed another character I need in book two of the series!”

Whether that’s the author’s creativity taking her on an unexpected detour or she’s blaming her characters for the fatal flaw she’s discovered in her outline doesn’t matter. The planned path for the story lies in the noir shadows of a recycle bin. 

But God’s outline is perfect. It’s never tossed away and never wrong—so when the characters in His story try to rebel, it only causes hardship for the character. That’s us, by the way. 

In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps. (Proverbs 16:9 NIV) 

Are we more interested in the course we’ve charted in our hearts or the steps God has planned for our story? I spend a lot of time preparing for writing conferences; building binders, printing one-sheets, selecting classes, and researching the editors. But what if my primary preparation was quietly asking God what’s on His outline for the week? What if I were more concerned about who I was there to encourage rather than getting to that appointment table, gently nudging others out of my way with the elbow of Christ?

A call to writing may be part of God’s outline for our lives—but it’s not the only thing, and even if you write full time, it’s safe to say it’s a subplot in God’s outline for you. 

Stick to God’s outline. Ask Him about the next bullet point every day and you’ll avoid a lot of rewrites. 


The truth is, we’re human. So, we’re going to fight against that outline, especially when we face one of those plot-points we don’t like. You know, the conflicts that cause transformation and make our character dynamic? But how do we get back on course once we realize we’re working against the outline God has written for our lives? We accept critiques.

Many new members of a critique group sit with their knee bouncing, fidgeting with paperclips and curling the edge of their creation as they wait for someone to analyze every comma, awkward phrase, and POV issue they’ve committed to paper. Hopefully, we’re kind in our constructive review of one another’s work, but some never return. No one loves a challenging review, but the people who are most successful realize that critiques are not your identity—they’re a tool to improve our identity as a writer.

As a pastor, I oversee a ministry called Celebrate Recovery. We encourage everyone to do a daily inventory, which is a series of questions we bring to God, asking Him to critique our day—in writing terms, we ask the Holy Spirit to show us how far off the outline we’ve tried to stray. Are you willing to submit yourself to God’s critique of your life, echoing the prayer of David?

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life. (Psalm 139:23-24 NLT)

If you want to be a better writer, accept critiques from other writers,

If you want to be a better follower of Christ, accept critiques from your Author.


Critiques lead to rewrites and edits. Always. 

My latest book has just entered the editing phase with a traditional publisher. Soon, with my eyes half open and a cup of coffee making its way to my lips, I’ll launch my email app with lethargy and discover the email I’ve both longed for and dreaded. My eyes will shoot open and I’ll undoubtably get coffee on my shirt.

When that day comes, I’ll have two ways to view that document—with prideful arrogance or gratitude. I can perceive every note as a murder attempt on my character, or I can remember that the editor isn’t trying to destroy my book but is giving me the opportunity to present the very best version of it.

If you’re a follower of Christ, that’s what God wants for your life. More than that, he wants to transform you to be more like Jesus. But that requires editing. Will you gratefully submit to the editing God wants to do in your life to make that happen?

Look how seriously Jesus takes the editing process in the Book of John:

“I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more.” (John 15:1-2 NLT)

Notice that the branches don’t have the option of being left alone. God can either prune them or cut them off.

In gardening, it’s called pruning. 
In writing, it’s editing. 
In Christianity it’s referred to as sanctification, the slow, continual editing and pruning of our hearts to become God’s masterpiece.


Joshua J. Masters is a pastor, author, and speaker. He’s been featured on CBN Television, HIS Radio, and the Light Radio Network. Josh is the author of American Psalms: Prayers for the Christian Patriot and is a contributing author for Feed Your Soul, Refresh Bible Study Magazine, and One Christian Voice. Josh has also worked as an actor and crew member in the film industry (SAG/AFTRA) and continues to have a passion for film. He lives with his wife, Gina, and Franklin the Pup outside Greenville, South Carolina where he serves as a speaking and care pastor.

Josh would love to connect with you on his website, or engage with you on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Goodreads.


  1. A beautiful, inspiring, and thought-provoking analogy! Thank you, Pastor Masters.

  2. Thank you so much, MaryAnn. I appreciate your kind words and I'm grateful you found it helpful.

  3. Not quite in agreement about sticking to the outline. I'm a pantser, so there's no outline, just a general idea where the story is going. God leads us pantsers too.

    1. Absolutely, Sherri. I'm mostly a panster too and God leads us with the same love as those outline people :) But God is not a panster--He had everything outlined from the beginning of time. The question is not whether God leads pansters in our writing, it's whether we're seeking to follow the path (or outline) He's laid out for our lives. #PanstersUnite #GodLovesPansters

  4. Thank you for this encouraging, thought proving post.

    1. You are very welcome, Marsha. I'm so glad to hear you found it uplifting and helpful.

  5. Great analogies comparing the writing life with our faith life, Joshua! “Are we more interested in the course we’ve charted in our hearts or the steps God has planned for our story?” Great question! I say that in this year of pandemic, many of us have wondered what in the world God is up to. For us, not only was it a year of confinement and longing for family we haven’t been able to see, but it was also a year of tragedy for two of our adult children and two grandchildren. This year has been one of the most difficult of our 43 years of marriage, because of all of this mixed together. And yet, this was in God’s outline. He wasn’t surprised, nor dismayed. Therefore, we know he has a plan, and he will work this together for our good! What a stretch God’s outline has been! I wouldn’t have chosen any of it, but I’m not God.

  6. So I had a lengthy response and Google ate it. So now, I’ll just say, great post, Joshua! God’s outline wasn’t what I would have chosen, but I’m not God and neither am I sovereign nor omniscient!