Writing Is a Terrible God

WritingI heard a friend say recently, “I’m a writer. I would write even if no one read it.”

Since I was a kid, I’ve wanted to be a writer. I had dreams of writing fiction novels, and then later in life, I hoped for a career as a sportswriter. For a few years, I even considered a career as an English professor. I now write Christian books, articles, blogs, and other public forms of writing. I don’t know if I totally agree with my friend—I enjoy the audience interaction and the craft of writing for someone—but certainly being a writer is part of who I am. I’ve been wired this way for as long as I can remember.

As with any passion, writing can become an idol. At times, I feel like I’m worthless if I haven’t written something—anything—for few days. I recently deleted my social media accounts, and my flesh told me that my writing career would be over because of it. I struggled initially with paralyzing fear that I’d never publish another word. Or at least that no one would ever read another word.

I am prone to allow writing to become my god. And it’s a terrible god.

It seems like more and more people want to be writers. Everyone has a blog. Everyone is self-publishing their books and then placing “author” in their bylines. The title “writer” or “author” carries with it a mystique.

My advice: beware of the allure of writing. Don’t allow Satan to make you think that just one popular blogpost, one book, or one article will validate your identity. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that whatever work God has for you is lesser than another. A small few write for a living, but most even prolific authors have other jobs. The glamorous life of writing all day, every day is like the apple in the Garden, promising something it can’t actually deliver.

It sounds funny to say that writing is a terrible god. We all know that writing isn’t a person or a being. It’s incapable of loving you. But like any inanimate idol, we act as though it truly cares for us. Writing is no different than the golden calf—its glory is merely a mirage.

Writing doesn’t care about you. It frustrates you. It wars against you. Words don’t come as easily as you’d like. Feedback from good editors will inevitably remind you that writing doesn’t care about your feelings. You can pour your heart and soul into the craft, and it will still chew you up and spit you out. Your best writing days are still imperfect, because your false god loves to make you sweat.

Writing is not God. Writing cannot provide rest. As with any work in a fallen world, it makes you sweat. I love the process of writing, most of the time. It’s a craft. It’s an art. But even in that joy, writing isn’t built to carry our worship and expectations and identity.

Fix your eyes on the one true God. He is the one who truly provides for you, who can bear the weight of your worship and expectations and identity. Don’t allow your life to be defined by pageviews, book sales, or even retweets and likes of your short social media writings. Writing is a God-glorifying craft for some, but not for all.

And like any idol, it’s a terrible god. Don’t bend your knee to its throne. It will fail you.

Stay in touch! Email me at ChurchGrammar@gmail.com.

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