Early this morning, I received a great question from a reader: How can I keep writing and publishing from being the “me show?”
For 8 long years, I struggled with the self-promotion and fame aspect of writing and publishing. I feared the sin of it all—that I was becoming like the people Jesus scolds in Matthew 23:5-7; He rebukes the scribes (the writers!) who “love the place of honor” and “the most important seats” and who “love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces.” As my first book sold well and I began to speak to huge audiences, I started to love the attention. So then I started to fear it.
This was becoming the “me show.”
But God sent three wise women to cancel the “me show” and make it the “God and you show.”
Donkeys. My friend practically dragged me away from a speaking event as I greeted all my adoring fans. When I said, “Why did you do that? Those women needed me!” She said, “Heather they don’t need you; they need Jesus.” She also told me that when I felt consumed with myself to remember how “the Lord uses donkeys” (Numbers 22:28) to speak; He doesn’t need us, and we aren’t that great or special. He can use anyone or anything. If He chooses to use you, remember the donkey.
Light. Another friend told me the story of a gifted musician who stopped making beautiful music because she liked the praise she received from it. She thought this displeased God, so she hid her gift. I thought about this for a long time. When I read Matthew 5:16 and Jesus’ encouragement to “Let your light shine” so others “can see your good deeds and glorify your Father in Heaven,” I thought about writing as a way to let my light shine. I thought about all the beautiful works of art in the world and how I’m glad those artists didn’t hide their gift.
3. God. God can humble you. When I told my mentor over and over again how afraid I was of falling into the trap of fame and self-promotion, she said, “Stop worrying about this. Go write! Go speak! Go teach! Just realize that God can humble you when and if He needs to. Let Him handle this.”
So I pressed on! I realized I could use writing as a way to love other people. I learned to use speaking and publishing to love others, to bless them, and to offer a gift to them. That’s why I don’t fear book signings of photographs or attention anymore; it doesn’t poison my heart when I see it all as a way to love others and bless them somehow. It’s how I take my eyes off myself and think, “This is about God and about you–not me.”
Lastly (and most importantly), I have to listen to the Holy Spirit every day. I have to keep the right people in my life to keep me focused on God. (This is one of the reasons I publish with Moody Publishers because they don’t want to make Christian celebrities.) So I press on. I have to confess sin, ask God to “instruct me in the way chosen for me” (Psalm 25), and press on.
I pray you press on, too.
PS: Here is an infographic I made for the writers following along to gain writing tips and questions: