When I started writing, my heart was filled with wrong motives.
It wasn’t intentional. I certainly didn’t realize it at first. I was excited to answer God’s calling. I rejoiced at new creativity flowing through me. I ran toward every opportunity. I’ll start a blog! I’ll join a writer’s group! I’ll reach the masses for Jesus Christ!
My heart was on fire!
Then, silence quenched the flames and disappointment extinguished every smoldering ember that remained.
As God was teaching me to have a “wholly devoted heart,” the enemy came rushing in to divide it. I found myself disappointed when people didn’t respond to my writing — or worse, if they responded negatively. I rejoiced with every “like” and “share” while every rejection (perceived or real) crushed my spirit.
Other writers seemed to draw readers like honeybees to sweet nectar. My own “following” felt more like the dry, barren desert the Israelites wandered. No wonder their hearts grumbled! The desert is lovely (I live in one), but I longed for the land of milk and honey.
Thankfully, God helped me see a deep flaw in one of my motivations for writing: A desire for affirmation.
Words of affirmation bless and encourage me. It’s my love language. I believe love languages are meant to be gifts, not hindrances. I would bet more than half of the entire Bible is made up of God’s words of affirmation and love for us.
Paul is probably my favorite New Testament writer (inspired by the Holy Spirit). I believe he had a great appreciation for words of affirmation. Perhaps it was his love language? Much of Philippians is a “thank you” letter from Paul to the Church in Philippi. Their love and words of affirmation lifted Paul’s spirits through some of his darkest moments. In turn, he offered encouragement to them.
Paul aligned himself with great encouragers like Barnabas (the “son of encouragement”) and with those he could also affirm and encourage, like Timothy. Words of affirmation and love bless both the receiver and giver.
Unfortunately, the enemy had taken my love language and twisted it into something unfruitful and self-serving.
What was meant to bless me turned into a false and dangerous idol. Without realizing it, I was coveting praise that belonged to Jesus. I was idolizing affirmation, instead of rejoicing in the God who affirms me.
At my lowest point, God stepped in and opened my eyes to my guilt. Even in my disobedience and selfishness, God cared for me. As I confessed my desire for a renewed heart and mind, God did just that!
Now, my writing is about serving Him, not my ego. It has brought renewed purpose and freedom to my writing, and my life. Being a writer in this digital age is competitive! But God encourages me every day and reminds me that it’s not about numbers, it’s about Him.
Affirmation is still my love language. God placed a healthy appreciation for “love words” in me. The difference now is that I don’t put words of affirmation on a throne. I do not elevate the opinions of others higher than God himself.
Armed with this truth, these words help to guard my heart when I write. I pray they will guard your heart too:
Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ. (Gal. 1:10, NIV)”
**If this post resonated with you, join me over at Suzanne Eller’s blog, where I’m linking up with her #LiveFreeThursday community.