Tag Archives: comparisons

Writers, Reading, and Comparisons

The books I most love to read are dangerous. Something, in the crafting or in the content, stirs a restlessness, an “I wish I could write like that.”

It’s important for writers to read words that leave us hungry to grow. We can study them for clues about how their author achieves whatever aspect of prose or poetry that we find so effective, to sharpen our own techniques.

That kind of comparison is healthy. It’s not the dangerous part. What trouble me are the whispers of doubt that make me want to hide the evidence that I’ve ever tried to write anything, and just kind of blend into the cushions of my couch.

As a beginning writer, I confronted the fear head-on: “Okay, what if I can’t write well? First, is there anything wrong with simply writing for fun? Second, if God gave me this gift, however rough its present packaging, isn’t it both wise and good manners to accept and use it? How else will I improve?”

Now, the comparisons keep me from being complacent about my words. They remind me that there’s always more to learn, and that there are better ways to apply what we know.

Whichever writer we’re currently admiring hasn’t always written at this level. Talents are developed and honed. We need to read carefully, learn from what we see, and apply it to our own skills.

Comparisons also remind me that we don’t all write for the same audience. One person’s delivery and style won’t work for another. We need to be true to our individual voices and not try to copy anyone else.

A symphony or a kazoo, crystal vase or clay jug, are equally useful in God’s hand to serve the people He designed them to serve. Mark Twain once said, “My books are water; those of the great geniuses are wine — everybody drinks water.”

My writing friends, when we encounter excellent reads, let’s choose to learn and grow, instead of giving in to comparison’s dark side. Perseverance, it seems, is won in the mind.

Writers: Perseverance is won in the mind.

[A previous version of this post appeared under the title of “Comparison” in the September 2015 edition of FineTuned, the newsletter of author/editor Carolyn Wilker]

Called to Share

But whatever I am now, it is all because God poured out his special favour on me—and not without results. For I have worked harder than any of the other apostles; yet it was not I but God who was working through me by his grace.
1 Corinthians 15:10, NLT*

“Whatever I am now” – Paul said his actions in persecuting the early Christians made him unworthy to be called an apostle.

Clearly, he was an apostle, or as William Barclay described him, an ambassador for Christ. Yes, he came late to the party, and with a terrible history. But when Jesus got Paul’s attention, Paul surrendered and threw his whole heart into spreading the news that the promised Saviour had come.

Paul didn’t dare let his past disqualify him – not when Jesus had personally commissioned him. He didn’t let the unusual circumstances of his calling inflate his opinion of himself or of those who’d served the Lord from the beginning. Nor did he allow his “thorn in the flesh” hold him back – instead he learned to rely on God’s strength. (2 Corinthians 12:9)

He never claimed to have deserved God’s special favour – anything but. Yet he seized what God gave him, and poured out his own life in service to his new Master.

If we look around us, we’ll see many who appear better equipped to spread the good news about Jesus. But the God who called Paul, and whose grace was enough for him, wants to use us too. He seems to like to work through the unlikely… perhaps because we’re more aware of how much we need to rely on Him?

God our Saviour… our King. Thank You for the privilege of belonging to You. Rekindle our wonder that You saved us, and open our eyes to see the opportunities You give to share You with others. Help us not to think less – or more – of ourselves than we should, but instead to think most about You. Show us how to live for You so others can come to know You as well.

The Newsboys’ song, “Go Glow,” encourages us to share what we’ve received.

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.