The apostle Paul is known for many things, but what really stands out for me is his ministry of encouragement. I was in my early 20s and wondering what God might have for me when I decided to read the apostle Paul’s letters to highlight only his promises. It became a life-changing experience and the promises I read then still resonate in my soul well over 60 years later.
I’ve had the privilege of interviewing many of our leading authors and writing short sketches about their life as writers. I learned early on that in almost every writer’s life there was one person whose encouragement either triggered interest in writing or confirmed the writing talent and/or passion. That may have been an elementary, high school or college teacher or a spouse.
A neighbor’s husband told his wife, “It’s time you fulfilled your dream of writing a novel. I’ll pay the mortgage and you write.” Two years later the novel was finished. A friend sent it to an editor, whom they met at a conference. He was so dismissive of this woman’s novel she put it on the shelf and left it there for 13 years. At a university women’s event she read a story from the novel that my wife so enjoyed she went up to her and asked for six copies of the book. The author shyly said there was no book—it was from a manuscript that had been on a shelf for 13 years. My wife volunteered my services, and several weeks of hard work later the proposal went out. That book went into a second printing despite coming from a small publisher.
While I enjoy encouraging writers, and consider it my calling, I do also have the unpopular task of being realistic with book authors who have not yet achieved a publishable level in their writing. I may encourage them to begin writing articles, assuring them that with articles they will reach thousands, at times hundreds of thousands, whereas with a first book they might reach 5,000 readers, and only too often even less than that. I also may urge participation in a distance learning course in writing or attending a Christian writers conference. It is gratifying when writers take that advice seriously and gain the level of skill needed to become published writers.
Here’s a way for you to interact with me. Send me a paragraph or two about someone who encouraged you as a writer—giving specifics on the kind of encouragement and what it did for you. I’ll collect them and share them.
As a writer it is easy to become discontented when what we have spent months, even years, developing is not appreciated by editors. Jealousy can sneak into our thought life as we see others succeed. The apostle Paul provides an antidote in Philippians 4:12-13: “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.”
Think of someone you can encourage today!