A war is waging within this writing sinner’s heart.
We’ll call this war “The Battle of the Insecure Writer.” It’s an (almost) everyday battle, a consistent fight. This is an attempt to describe that war, in hopes that I’ll better grasp its ins-and-outs and fight sin and temptation by the strength God supplies.
I’m also hoping this will help you, fellow writer. You, too, are fighting an inner war against sin, pride, and other fruit of the flesh. The ins-and-outs of your battle may look different than mine, but I’d guess much is similar. I’m hoping this will help you identify sin and temptation, and rest in God’s infinite grace as you pursue writing as a gift, a vocation, a calling.
So here-goes my first three confessions (and there are more to follow)—
Confession #1: I forget why I write.
Why do I write? I’ve asked myself this question lately as the battle with insecurity has waged. As a worker reviews his job description and goals when he’s discouraged, and as an athlete keeps her eye on the prize when the training hurts, so writers seek to grasp why we write. We refocus on this motivation when the going gets tough and our hearts wander, when we’re tempted toward distraction, and when our joy in creating and communicating begins to morph into a joyless pressure to produce.
John Piper wrote recently about why he writes, and I’d argue it’s an exercise worth every writer’s time. Insecure writer, will you join me in writing something similar, a manifesto of mission we can re-read when the sin-war wages and our hearts need to refocus?
The abbreviated statement on my website reads, “I see writing as a God-given means to teach truth from God’s Word and apply the gospel to life. The greatest Story ever told is the one about Jesus Christ.” I’ll continue working on mine in the coming months. Join me?
Confession #2: I compare myself to other writers.
Comparison kills joy. Fear of man hinders freedom and faithfulness. I know these are true; yet every day I give into the comparison trap:
- She’s writing more often than I am.
- She’s a more creative teacher.
- She seems like she knows exactly what she’s doing, and I feel like I’m floundering.
Yes, I compare myself to other writers and their writing—and it sucks the life from mine.
Friend, God has established pleasant boundary lines around your writing and has prepared good works for you, this week and for the rest of your earthly days. Each of us will be entrusted to steward a different load and measure of influence; what matters is how we handle whatever lot and responsibility he’s given us.
No matter he’s entrusted to you, success is faithfulness to God’s Word as you seek to point others to Christ through your writing. Because your identity is secure in Jesus, you’re free from placing your value, worth, and purpose in “the craft” or how it’s received; instead, to write is to worship God as you extend this gift as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to him. It’s the overflow of what he’s speaking to you through his Word and gospel, an outpouring of the great love he’s poured into your heart through his Spirit. It’s meant to encourage and equip and love his people, not to compete with them.
Confession #3: I care too much about what people think.
This bears repeating: Fear of man hinders freedom and faithfulness. First, freedom.
When my eyes are fixed on pleasing readers, publishers, people, I am submitting again to a yoke of slavery (Galatians 5:1). I am choosing to bind my identity and satisfaction to what can never eternally define or satisfy me, and this is exactly where the enemy wants me: ensnared to false gods and worshiping the creation rather than the Creator. In reality, the gospel has freed me from the enemy’s power and sin’s enticements; Jesus has opened my eyes to see these traps for what they are, and he’s given me true life, identity, and satisfaction in himself.
I am free from the fear of man to write faithfully, in the fear of the Lord.
If I’m constantly concerned about what people think, and if my writing is prompted by pressure to produce rather than freedom in Christ, then my devotion to his gospel, his Word, and his church will be divided. Instead of writing to communicate God’s Word in his timing, from a place of genuine communion with Christ and a Spirit-led grasping of truth, I will write what I think people want to read, motivated by lifeless obligation or the applause of men. I don’t want to be fearful and false, producing dishonest content that uses God’s truth for my purposes; I want to be faithful. Teaching is a responsibility we’re given for a time; our words may help people for a season; but only God’s Word will endure forever. And I want to be faithful to him.
So there you have it. Three confessions from an insecure writer. Three more are coming your way soon.