I vividly remember when I pressed “send” and e-mailed my first book’s manuscript to my editor. But I recall with even more clarity my emotions when I saw her return e-mail a couple of weeks later. I struggled to open it.
What if my first book returned to me full of red ink? (you know, like when your high school English teacher marked up your first draft of a book report.) Secretly I wanted my manuscript returned with few changes — a typo here and there would at least give me my money’s worth. And truthfully I hoped she would bestow upon me flattering words every aspiring author wants to hear. You are a naturally gifted writer! I couldn’t find anything wrong with your book! Just wait until a publisher discovers you! Keep doing what you’re doing!
Of course, when I opened the e-mail, my editor hadn’t pegged me as the next Beth Moore. Instead, she genuinely praised my work while offering necessary changes that made for a better, cleaner book.
Realizing My Limits
Fast forward a few years and I’ve changed a bit, to put it mildly. When I send my upcoming Acts Bible study to my editor in two weeks, I will tell her, “Please send this back as marked up as you can!”
What? What changed?
For one thing, I happened to flip through my second book, Flourish, searching for an excerpt to share with my blog readers. And I hated it. Well, let me clarify. The message is still earth-shattering (in my humble opinion) and I hope everyone will read it for that, but my writing? Oh, honey.
But again, what changed? Why would I have published Flourish just 9 months ago and now look at it with such a critical eye?
The difference is that over the past several months I have dedicated myself to learning the craft of writing. No longer do I operate under the pious naiveté that what I have to offer needs no work, as if I’m some sort of prodigy. In other words, for the first time I’m seeing myself in a more realistic light. And because I want my writing to improve, I hope my next manuscript will have more red than black.
Because I need help to get better at doing what I’ve been called to do.
A Humble Heart
I think the same can be said for my life and yours. It is easy to think we are “good enough,” that what we have to offer is plenty and we need no assistance. But the more we devote ourselves to the knowledge of Christ, the more we will see how far we have to go. However, instead of feeling defeated and hopeless, we’ll beg God to show us our shortcomings so we can become more like Christ.
And as Paul says to the Philippians, the one who began a good work in us will be faithful to complete it. (Phil. 1:6)
We have to be adaptable learners and approach our Christian walk with humility. That’s hard. Because our carnal self begs for someone to tell us either how naturally gifted we are, or how we’re doing just fine as we are. But we’re all works in progress, and those red marks serve only to make us better, more like Him.
I’ve always had a hard time accepting criticism, so I’m definitely a work in progress. But I am progressing. What about you?
Did you catch that I’m only two weeks away from finishing my Acts Bible study? It will be ready by mid-December and I’m hoping to have it available for pre-order next month! To get updates, be sure you’re subscribed to my bi-weekly e-mails here. Psst: my e-mail subscribers will get a discount!!
If you’re looking for a Bible study that gives YOU the chance to study Scripture on your own but also guides you to life application, make plans to grab a copy of my new study: Journey through Acts. For the latest updates on its release, subscribe here.