Protecting Your Gift

Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves” (Philippians 2: 1-3, NIV).

1111

What makes you think people want to read your poems?” Michael stared hard at me. 

As my mouth dropped, I couldn’t decide if I was hurt or ticked off. Michael held a position of spiritual authority over me. He raised his eyebrows, demanding an answer.

“I thought my poetry might help someone.”

“Perhaps you think too highly of yourself.” Michael forged a smile.

My shoulders drooped. I hated to think I might be struggling with pride, unable to recognize the truth.

Shamed back into seclusion, I spent the afternoon deleting poems from my website. Who was I to imagine my writing might minister to others?

Satan knows which buttons to push to make us ineffective. Although my work had won contests, I struggled with insecurity.

I developed the foolish habit of sharing my work with dream killers, naysayers, and even a few jerks—obviously. As a result, I wasn’t very productive creatively.

In the Old Testament, Joseph too made the mistake of sharing his dreams with the wrong people—his brothers. He paid dearly for it.

In my case, it took years of painful conversations to realize, if I wanted to be successful, I must be selective with whom I kept company. I must be diligent at protecting my gift.

Several years ago I began looking for a critique group. A place where I could collaborate with others and safely share the prose God had given me. One group I visited seemed jealous of each other. Another was filled with sweet old ladies, but they weren’t serious about developing their craft, and they smelled like vitamins.

I wondered if there existed a group of professional authors, passionate about glorifying the Lord with their talent.

Then I heard about a professional critique group that offered support and spoke the truth in love. The name of the group was Word Weavers International (insert angel choir here). I visited a local chapter and found a community of believers earnest about refining their skills and speaking into each other’s lives with grace and tact.

I soon realized rubbing shoulders with these authors was affecting my writing. Their encouragement spurred me to produce only the best for my King. With their help, I honed my craft, becoming a published author and editor of a magazine.

The confidence and genuine humility modeled by my new community transformed my hobby into a second career.

Proverbs 12:26 advises, we need to choose our friends wisely, for we become like those we befriend. Dream killers are easy to find, but godly, gracious friends who rejoice in your successes—those are the people we must seek out.

Fortunately, Michael quickly disappeared from my life. Ironically, last I heard, he had become a soloist and recorded his own CD.

Hmm.

 

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