If you’re a Christian writer like me, you probably follow a number of successful authors who are experts in your genre. You might regularly listen to writing podcasts and read various writing blogs. And when it comes to workshops, classes, and challenges, you’re all in, taking copious notes.
You do all of this in order to write better, grow your platform, and sell more books. All legitimate reasons. But are you vetting your sources?
Even more importantly, are you seeking God and His Word to help guide and improve your writing?
For far too long I listened to the world’s advice: “Try harder! If you put your mind to it and carve out enough time and follow these easy steps, you can do it!” Yet after repeatedly following step after step, I continued to find myself spinning in circles and not going anywhere.
Perhaps you can relate.
So what’s the answer? How can you become a better Christian writer and achieve success?
The Lord led me to John 17, which shares how Jesus prayed for Himself, His disciples, and all believers. Within those prayers, He offers fourteen important points that can serve as a model for every Christian writer.
#1 Pray that God will be glorified
Jesus started with prayer and he prayed specifically. He didn’t pray for His own success, though. Rather, Jesus prayed that God would be glorified through His actions.
Do you pray for guidance before you begin a book project? Do you pray for wisdom, clarity, and productivity before each writing session? Do you pray that God’s glory would be revealed through your work?
It’s clear that if you start in prayer, your time and effort will not be wasted. Even if you don’t attain the specific goals you set for yourself, you can be sure that He will work it all out for His ultimate glory.
#2 Accept the authority
Jesus was given authority over all flesh, to grant eternal life to as many as God gave Him. He didn’t walk around aimlessly, randomly trying new ways of saving people. He followed God’s plan and confidently shared salvation with those around Him.
As a Christian, Jesus lives in you. God has therefore given you authority to share His word with the world. Stop chasing after the latest trend or method of writing. Hone in on what He’s telling you to do.
Think about it this way: If He has called you to write a specific book, then He has given you the authority to write it! Own that truth and write confidently.
#3 Do the work of a Christian writer
Jesus finished the work God gave Him to do. In order to finish the work, He first had to start the work and then persist by overcoming challenges, insults, and abuse along the way.
The same holds true for your book project, dear friend. You can’t just sit around thinking about writing; you actually have to start writing. Similarly, you shouldn’t throw in the towel when it gets hard or when people criticize your efforts; rely on God’s strength and wisdom to see you through.
#4 Pray for your readers
John 17 says that Jesus didn’t pray for everyone in the world, but only for believers (v. 9) and those who would come to believe in Him (v.20). Isn’t that interesting? He, being the Good Shepherd, was diligent to watch over His flock to ensure their safety.
According to Christ’s example, you therefore have the privilege of praying for your current followers as well as the future readers God will bring to you.
Some specific prayers you might consider for your readers are that their minds would be opened to God’s truth, that they be receptive to the message God’s sharing through you, and that your story would positively impact them for His kingdom.
#5 Keep God’s name in front of your readers
The Scripture says that Jesus kept believers in God’s name. I have to admit, I’m not exactly sure what that means but I think it’s safe to assume that it refers to that fact that Jesus continually referred to God, His personal relationship with Him, and God’s glorious attributes. He did this so His followers could better know and understand God.
I’m also confident that Jesus respected the name of God. Never did He blaspheme the Father or use His name in vain. In fact, Scripture clearly states that believers are not to profane the name of God (I believe this applies to both speaking and writing).
Yet – alarmingly – increasing numbers of self-professing Christian authors are choosing to cave in to society’s expectations regarding the use of His name as well as profanity and vulgarity in general. Several times within Facebook groups I belong to I’ve read the defense they give: “It’s real life. People talk this way in real life.”
How that argument must grieve the heart of God! Just because society embraces such language doesn’t mean it’s right or good to do so. Let’s let the Holy Spirit give us the words for our books, not the culture.
#6 Speak into the world
Jesus spoke into the world that they may experience His joy. Notice He didn’t speak just to hear himself speak; He spoke with a purpose in mind: to bring joy to the world.
Why are you writing your book? Is it to simply say you wrote a book? Is it for selfish ambition to achieve fame and money? Or is it to glorify God and enable your readers to experience true joy in Christ?
#7 Give your readers God’s Word
Jesus spoke truth and life to everyone He came into contact with: friends and strangers, Jews and Gentiles, locals and foreigners, men and women, adults and children.
We, too, should focus on speaking truth and life to our readers. That doesn’t mean we need write sermons. It simply means we should be willing to share biblical truths in relevant contexts.
Consider the wide variety of Christian books today. They aren’t only filled with theological texts, they also include books of almost every genre: self-help, devotionals, children’s books, YA adventure books, memoir/biographies, romance, historical fiction, science fiction, mystery, humor, suspense…. Each incorporates God’s truth in different ways.
Know that whatever type of book God has called you to write, He will enable you to incorporate His truth in a unique way for your audience.
#8 Pray for protection
Jesus didn’t pray for believers to be taken out of the world but that God would protect them from the evil one while in the world.
Friends, if you’re a Christian writer, the reality is that you’re battling against the evil one. The secular publishing industry is rapidly transitioning under the enemy’s grip. No longer are wholesome books the norm. Just look at the prevalence of satanic, cultish, new-age books in our bookstores compared to the number of Christian books on the shelves.
We need to pray God’s protection over our minds, our writing, our readers, and the Christian publishing industry as a whole. God will not be mocked nor silenced forever. He is giving us this opportunity to stand for and with Him in the battle.
#9 Pray for sanctification
Jesus prayed that God would sanctify believers with His truth through His word (v. 17). He wanted believers to not just hear His words, but to apply them to their lives. He asked God to allow believers to become more holy in mind and body.
This is still applicable today. His request so long ago continues to enable us to grow closer in our walk with Him and become more like Him.
Similarly, ask God to sanctify your readers. Pray that through your words they would come to better understand our Heavenly Father and grow in Christ.
#10 Go into the world
Jesus sent believers into the world to spread the gospel. The purpose of the Great Commission is to share about the kingdom of heaven with all people everywhere.
That doesn’t mean that you alone are expected to reach everyone, everywhere. You are, however, encouraged to testify to those people God has placed in your path.
Don’t succumb to fear. Trust in God and launch, market and promote the book He has called you to write.
#11 Pray for unity
Jesus prayed that believers be “made perfect in one” with God and Jesus (v. 23). Later, Paul wrote letters to the various churches to encourage fellow believers to support each other and not become fractured in their faith.
The same holds true for us as writers. We shouldn’t view ourselves as competitors but instead, fellow servants all seeking the same outcome. When we build each other up and support each other, God is glorified and our stories – God’s messages – have a bigger impact.
#12 Spend time with Jesus
Jesus desired to spend time with people when He walked the earth and He continues to do so today. Are you seeking Him out and inviting Him into every area of your life? Are you taking time to enjoy His presence on a regular basis or are you too busy checking items off your to-do list?
Ouch. I’m stepping on my own toes, too. Being a Christ-follower is intentional and also relational. We need to nurture our time with Him and hold it as a daily priority in order to grow in our fellowship with Him.
An added benefit of growing closer to Jesus is that we also get to behold His glory. This means we get to be with Him where He’s at. What an amazing opportunity!
#13 Declare God’s name
Jesus stated, “I have declared to them Your name, and will declare it…” (v. 26). In other words, Jesus won’t stop talking to people about God.
As Christians, we should also want to continuously declare God’s name and speak of His promises. As writers, we can do this through the messages in our books as well as giving Him the glory for our successes, both large and small.
#14 Experience God’s love
Jesus said that by declaring God’s name, the same love of God that He experienced would be shared with believers. Therefore, when we believe in Christ, we also get to experience the fullness of the love of God.
Yet are we willing to pour God’s love into our pages for our readers to experience or are we holding onto it for ourselves? Consider the fact that your writing might be the first (or only) opportunity some of your readers will have to learn about and experience God’s love. For other readers, your insights about God’s love can take them to deeper levels of intimacy with Him.
If this amount of responsibility seems intimidating, remember that all you have to do to become a better Christian writer is be a willing vessel. Invite God into your writing and allow Him to do all the spiritual work.
Whew! There you have it.
None of us is perfect – as a person or as a Christian writer. None of us will accomplish all of the above points every time – or even most of the time.
The good news is that where we’re weak, He is strong. When we’re unable, He is able.
God simply asks us to be faithful to Him and His calling on our lives; He will work everything out according to His purposes despite our mistakes, fears, and omissions.
Choose to allow Him to work through you to become a better Christian writer.
Which of these fourteen points resonates most with you? Which one will you focus on first in your writing?
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