A Writer’s Response to Correction

I recently submitted thirty-one devotions for a national ministry’s monthly devotional for their supporters. The batch I submitted last year had been well received, and I hoped for a similar reaction.

This time, the editor’s response was not quite what I expected. She complimented the writing style and general content, but the majority of my submissions were missing one required point set forth in their writer’s guidelines.

She wrote to tell me she had corrected a portion of the batch, and apologetically asked if I wanted her to continue correcting the remaining devotionals or if I wanted to complete the edits myself.

As I read her email, I realized there wasn’t one thing wrong with this picture, there were several…

First, I should have paid more attention to the writers’ guidelines. Having had my work enthusiastically received last year caused me to become overconfident. I relied on past experience and failed to confirm that my work met her requirements before I submitted it this time.

Second, she was apologetic when she informed me of my error. This editor was considering the purchase of work that did not meet her standards, and had gone so far as to make many of the corrections herself, rather than ask me to do it.

Her reluctance to hold me accountable surprised me. Then she said something that amazed me even more. Her reluctance stemmed from her experience that many writers take offense at the slightest bit of constructive criticism. They have responded to her with statements such as “Take it or leave it” or “God gave me these words so I’m not going to change them.”

I made the required corrections. She accepted the work and (cliché alert!) all’s well that ends well. However, this whole exchange caused me to think about other areas of my life.

How do I respond to constructive criticism from those around me? Do they see me as someone who arrogantly thinks she is always right or as someone who has a teachable spirit?

What about God’s instructions to me? Having read and studied the Bible for the past thirty years, have I become so familiar with God’s Word that I am overconfident about obeying what it says? Do I take God’s forgiveness so much for granted that my failure to obey His commands barely registers on my radar? Worse, do I rely on familiarity as a substitute for reading and studying on a daily basis?

What about you? When it comes to instructions – God’s or an editor’s (and no, they’re not the same!) – are you careful to read and follow, or do you presume that your past experience is a good enough guide?

When others offer you constructive criticism, how teachable is your spirit?

When No One Seems to Notice

“We are not trying to please men but God, who tests our hearts” (I Thess. 2:4)

Serving the Lord can sometimes be discouraging work. It may become even more discouraging when we’ve poured ourselves into our calling – teaching, writing, or any other calling – and no one seems to notice our efforts. Or maybe we’ve worked and worked . . . and someone else gets the credit for what we’ve accomplished.

As Christians, we know that we serve to glorify the Lord. Jesus said, “You are the light of the world . . . let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:14, 16). The goal of our work is praise for the Father, not for ourselves.

Still, it’s natural to want someone to notice and acknowledge our efforts. We all need encouragement. Certainly, the Bible exhorts us to encourage one another.

But the Lord knows our hearts. He knows our motivations. I’ve found that God will frequently allow periods of anonymity or discouragement in my life to reveal my motives. If I am ready to give up because of a lack of recognition or appreciation, that tells me my motives have been all wrong.

It’s no accident that among the hundreds of named women in Scripture, there are also more than one hundred references to unnamed individual women or groups of women. Immortalized in Scripture for all time, yet virtually unknown apart from being identified by their circumstances. It doesn’t seem quite fair.

Yet nothing escapes God’s notice. He knows who they are—each and every one of them. And he knows who we are, what we are doing, and why we do it. Jesus reminded his followers that “even the very hairs of your head are all numbered” (Matthew 10:30). In Genesis 16:13, Hagar was amazed that God knew all about her, and she called Him El Roi, the God Who Sees.

So the next time you’re discouraged because of a lack of recognition or appreciation, there’s only one thing to do. Run straight into the arms of El Roi. Take comfort in knowing that the Lord sees all that you do and will reward you.

The Apostle Paul wrote, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers” (Galatians 6:9-10).

Paul also reminded us, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving” (Colossians 3:23-24).

When we’re serving the Lord the recognition and pay may not be much, but the retirement plan is out of this world!

What do you do when others fail to acknowledge your efforts?

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