“God told me to write this.” And let’s not forget its many variations. God laid it on my heart. God gave me this idea. God has called me to write this book.
I call it playing the God card and frankly, it doesn’t impress me. Now don’t jump to conclusions and vow (once again) to stop reading my blog forever. I’m not a heretic, but I may be constitutionally incapable of conveying my thoughts on this without the snark factor. Because you see, when you say “God told me to write this” the instant reaction (usually unspoken, thankfully) of most editors and agents is, “Yes, but God hasn’t told me to publish it.”
Don’t get me wrong. I recognize that as Christians, it’s vitally important that we try to follow God’s call on our lives and be obedient to His will. And I know that many writers feel directly divinely inspired to put their words on the page. But saying your idea came from God doesn’t help you get it published. It doesn’t make an editor or agent sit up and pay attention. It doesn’t give you a leg up on the competition. Because if you’re pitching your work in Christian publishing circles, everyone else can say the same thing. At least, we hope they can!
If you’re a Christian, then of course God is involved in your work. I assume your desire is to let Him speak through your writing. I expect you have moments where you feel your specific words came directly from the mouth of God. So, mention that God spoke these words into your life if it’s important to you, but don’t assume it will give you a selling advantage. In fact, only say it if you’re sure you’re simply conveying important information to the editor and not trying to use God’s name to help sell your book. That’s really playing the God card. It’s irreverent and it smacks of using God for your own ends. I believe that’s the true definition of taking the Lord’s name in vain. So please don’t do it.
Even if you’re sure that God has led you to write something, don’t mistake it to mean He’s telling you it will be published. It might be that God wants you to do it for reasons you can’t fathom―for your own growth, for example, or to develop your obedience. Maybe, as we discussed in the post on personal stories, he wants you to write it down to share with a select few other people. Being inspired by God doesn’t mean that your work necessarily fits into the publishing business, but it still could be pleasing to God, and glorify Him and make Him smile.
Don’t despair. Glorifying God is a worthy goal. If your work blesses the life of one person (even if that person is you) while giving glory to our Lord, then be assured it’s worth it. If you feel God has called you to it, then make like Nike and just do it. If you feel He’s also called you to pursue publication, do that too. If you believe He’s made you a promise that your book will become a million copy bestseller, you might just want to keep that little tidbit to yourself.
If you want credibility with your writing, don’t try to sell it based on the fact that God told you to write it. And you can trust me on that, because God told me to tell you all of this.
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P.S. Lest you think I don’t “get” the idea that God really does inspire our
writing, please read this post which I wrote a few months ago. I’m a writer, too. I get it.