Last week at church, we discussed Acts Chapter 14:8-19 which tells about Paul and Barnabas healing a man in Lystra. This man was crippled and had never walked before, so those who witnessed the miracle were very much in awe.
Too in awe, though, as they started worshiping Paul and Barnabas and wanted to offer sacrifices to them. The apostles immediate response was this:
But when the apostles, Barnabas and Paul, understood what the people were doing, they tore their own clothes. Then they ran in among the people and shouted to them: “Men, why are you doing this? We are not gods. We are human just like you. We came to tell you the Good News. We are telling you to turn away from these worthless things. Turn to the true living God, the one who made the sky, the earth, the sea, and everything that is in them.”
They didn’t want the glory that the people heaped on them, rather they insisted they were mere humans and that all glory goes to God.
Think about that in your own life. Would you have been so quick to deny the praise, to drink in the flattery? Who doesn’t like to be built up and be celebrated? What about those running for President right now? How many of the candidates would rip their clothes and fiercely rebuff the accolades? What about the Hollywood stars who took home awards on Sunday night?
As a writer, when I experience a success, do I really credit God? Admittedly, not always. To become “successful” as the world sees it, the author needs big numbers–sales, followers, royalties, reviews. When approaching agents and editors, they insist on seeing those big numbers. But when we center so much of our efforts on building those numbers, soon our focus isn’t on writing for God, but writing for numbers, and then suddenly when those numbers grow big, it’s easy to say, “Look what I did! Look how great I am!”
I might verbally proclaim my success is all about God, and even write that all glory goes to Him, but if I’m honest, my heart doesn’t always agree with my words.
So, how do we balance building our platform while pointing to God? How do we spend a great deal of time marketing our work, telling people how great we are and how awesome are books are, yet remain clothes-tearing humble like Paul and Barnabas? How do we build numbers, and still keep our eyes fixed on God?
When it’s our goal to make people see how fabulous we are, is it really “not about me?”
Honestly, I don’t have a cure-all answer as this is an issue I’ve constantly struggled with in the writing-to-be-published life as opposed to the writing-for-hobby life. So I begin everyday with prayer, asking that I become more focused on Him, less on me. I pray that the desires of my heart will match His will for my life.
Right now, I’m definitely a work-in-progress.
How do you balance working for success while giving all the glory to God?