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 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This same principle can apply to critiques of our as-yet-unpublished writing too.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 or our job or our ministry 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.


Sarah Elisabeth said...

Thanks, C.J., I needed this as well!

Wendy Paine Miller said...

Exactly the words I needed today.

Thanks, C.J.

~ Wendy

Jenna said...

Great post, and so true--that glowing praise can be dangerous!

Julia M. Reffner said...

Thank you for posting this, CJ. I needed to hear it, too.

Paula Wiseman said...

Wise words CJ- I've always heard success is a greater test of character than failure. Ultimately, it all goes back to that Audience of One.

Koala Bear Writer said...

Great reflection; very true.

Toyin O. said...

So true, we need a good balance. We just have to remember to give all glory to God.

Judith Briles said...

A great advice for many incoming authors and those that already have there books recognized by the public.
I agree that neither the positive and the negative comments should derail us. We must keep on, humble ourselves and improve only when it will be for the good of all.