If you are the author of books, blogs, or articles that are “edgy” or that challenge mainstream/traditional thinking . . . or you’re aspiring to be such . . . you must get used to a few things. In fact, you must learn to live with them.
Here are eight that come to mind. They are in no particular order:
1. Expect some reviewers of your work to completely misrepresent what you believe, what you have said, and engage in masterful straw-man argumentation. Some of them will falsely accuse you of writing the very opposite of what you have written and stand for. Do not expect these reviewers to have the spiritual sensitivity and integrity to show their reviews to you first to ensure that they are accurate before they’re published in some public venue.
2. Expect some people who read these reviews to believe the misrepresentations and begin the bashing machine without ever reading the work themselves to find out if the review was accurate or not. Some people still believe what they read despite that they know in their hearts that “not everything you read is true.”
3. Don’t expect those who have read your work and understand it to know about these reviews. In other words, don’t expect them to respond to and refute the misrepresentations. And if some of your supporters do happen to see these inaccurate reviews, don’t expect them to rise to your defense. It’s a rare person who will stick their neck out for another person. Most people shrink back from doing this out of fear of rejection. Selfishness usually reigns in such situations.
4. Don’t expect any of your critics to challenge you privately to a public debate or discussion on your work. (Whenever this does happen, you will be pleasantly shocked.) Instead, expect them to criticize, attack, and misrepresent you in public, never coming to you privately to ask open and honest questions that think the best of your motives. In other words, don’t expect them to treat you the way they would want to be treated if they had written something you disagreed with or didn’t understand.
5. Always remember that all things come from God’s hand — both negative and positive — so never defend yourself. But learn to trust the Lord with all of it. If what you have written carries His anointing, it will stand, and He will use it to change lives, despite any opposition from the gainsayers. (Answering someone’s question is not the same as defending yourself. Defending yourself is getting angry, attacking back, and responding when not specifically asked.)
6. Remember that if you have something worthwhile to say, you will attract disagreement, hostility, spin, and opposition. The servant is not greater than his or her Master. Over-sensitive people will say things to and about you that are hurtful, and they will “read into” your words, thinking the worst of what you meant. Some people are so unwilling to believe the best of others that they will still misrepresent you or something you said even after you have explained your meaning to them. Sometimes the attacks will come from people who are your supposed “fans” when you say something they don’t like. Expect this.
7. How you respond to your critics speaks volumes about you and the message you carry. If you get defensive and attack them back, you reveal just how small a person you are. Be willing to answer questions about your work if they are posed to you with a right spirit, but do not engage in defensive, angry argumentation (there’s a big difference between the two). A soft answer turns away wrath. Refrain from giving people what you think they really deserve. Take the higher road.
8. Always be open for correction, adjustment, and more light. Never entertain the delusion that you have “arrived.” See my post on 3 Kinds of Critics & How to Respond to Them for details.
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“In Frank Viola’s hands, the story of Lazarus—like Lazarus himself—once again comes to life. In a world where hope is battered and life can so easily beat down the human spirit, we are reminded once more of the possibility of becoming a host of Life.”
John Ortberg, pastor and author of Who Is This Man?
“God’s Favorite Place on Earth realigned my heart toward Jesus and His mysterious, confounding, surprising, beautiful ways. It’s not often I learn something new when reading a book, but Frank Viola’s sharp storytelling and insightful interpretation made me hunger for more of the real Jesus.”
Mary DeMuth, author of Everything: What You Give
“God’s Favorite Place on Earth is the kind of book I’ve discovered I need to periodically find and read. Frank Viola’s pen and voice are consistently both penetrating and trustworthy. Beyond his invitingly beautiful writing skill—which makes reading a joy and a sight-seeing tour that brings God’s Word into 3-D when he relates narrative passages, I’m grateful for the depth of his themes.”
Pastor Jack Hayford, Chancellor of The King’s University, Los Angeles
“This is a masterfully engaging book that distills the vision of the Christian life into one focused quest: To be God’s favorite place on earth today. I recommend this little volume to all Christians and Christian leaders.”
Mark Batterson, New York Times bestselling author of The Circle Maker
“Combining masterful storytelling, historical knowledge, biblical insight and practical wisdom, Frank artfully uses the Gospels’ depiction of Lazarus and the small town of Bethany to lay out a beautiful and compelling vision of a God who longs to make every human heart and every church ‘His favorite place.’ This is a beautifully written, timely, prophetic work all would benefit from reading!”
Greg Boyd, pastor and author of Benefit of the Doubt
“A lot of people write books, Frank writes stories and in this one we once again see why he’s such a master. Honored to call him a friend, excited to call him an author I love to read.”
Jon Acuff, bestselling author of Start, Quitter, and Stuff Christians Like
“Frank Viola surpasses himself in his best book yet—a work of serene, soaring magnificence. Part novel, part biography, part theology, part Bible study, Frank’s imaginative touch and command of prose haiku leaves the reader resolved more than ever to be a Bethany—God’s favorite place on earth.”
Leonard Sweet, Drew University, George Fox University, sermons.com
“Reading God’s Favorite Place on Earth by Frank Viola, my soul began to burn from Chapter One. To delve into Lazarus’ heart and thoughts … I received a beautiful glimpse into the life of Christ on earth. Lazarus’ stories make a perfect foundation for God’s truth, God’s intimacy. I can’t wait to share this book!”
Tricia Goyer, USA Today best-selling author of 35 books
“In spite of my Ph.D. in Theology, I had never considered the importance of Bethany in the life of Jesus.”
Phil Cooke, media consultant and author of Unique