Whatever Is Good

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By Ramona Richards

“Employ whatever God has entrusted you with, in doing good, all possible good, in every possible kind and degree.”
-John Wesley

This quotation from John Wesley may have been inspired by 1 Peter 4:10, which instructs us in a similar fashion: “And serve each other according to the gift each person has received, as good managers of God’s diverse gifts” (CEB).

Most of us recognize that our ability to string words together in a skilled way is a gift from God, one that we should use to the best of our ability to honor Him and be a good manager of that gift. But therein lies the rub . . . that most indeterminate and relative of words: “Good.”

What does that mean, in terms of our writing? What did Peter mean, what did Wesley mean by “doing good, being a good manager”? Not in any deep theological sense, but in a practical, everyday, “how to I make the best choices” sense?

1) Never take your gift for granted. Writers often hang out with a lot of other writers. Our friends tend to be smart as well, and occasionally we drift into this place where we believe anyone could do what we do with a little training. Especially after so many rejections, we begin to doubt our gift. This is SO NOT the truth. You have a GIFT unique to you. Only you can nourish it, strengthen it, and tell the stories you are meant to tell.

2) And you do need to nourish it, strengthen it. By writing and learning continually. Your gift came from God with raw potential; like an athlete’s gift for running or throwing a ball. Receiving the gift is just the beginning. Take courses, listen to other authors, read as much as you can in your genre or chosen field. Your gift is like possessing a foreign language: if you don’t use it, it will grow weak and stale.

3) Make choices that honor the gift Giver. You may be a whiz at dialogue and human psychology. This doesn’t mean you should write the next Fifty Shades of Gray. And I don’t mean to just avoid pornography – there are many ways to write, and you have claimed the label of Christian. You may be the only reflection of Christ some people will see. Keep that in mind when stringing your words together.

4) Be flexible and listen to the Lord. Since He gave you the gift, He has a plan for you and a path for you to walk with it. You may crave writing romance novels, but He may lead you to writing suspense or devotionals, which require as much a gift for storytelling as a novel.

In fact, repeat that to yourself: Since He gave you the gift, He has a plan for you to use it. And the best way to know that plan is to listen and to watch for the doors He opens. Don’t ignore them; they’re there for a reason. A “good” reason.

When you keep your writing eyes on HIM, “good” becomes clear.

Ramona Richards Nov 2014Ramona Richards is the author of seven novels and two books of devotionals. She launched her career in Christian publishing 33 years ago, and has worked with more than a dozen major publishers. She’s currently the Senior Acquisitions Editor for Fiction at Abingdon Press.

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