Friday, May 27, 2011

Pride and Humility for Authors

If you want to get God upset with you—and I mean really upset—take credit for the things he has done. That’s pride. Isaiah 42:8 says, “I am the Lord; that is my name. And my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images.” When we lift ourselves up with pride, we try to take God’s glory. The Bible gives many examples of blessings lost because of pride.

Recently in some writer circles, the topic of pride and humility came up. Some writers are opposed to false humility, referring that people would just say what they really think of their work. Honest pride seems better than dishonest humility. And when you consider how the publishing industry is structured, I can understand that feeling. Writers who are trying to succeed have to promote their work. But some people have the idea that it isn’t pride if we let others validate our work rather than just saying we think it is good.

Look at what happened to Herod in Acts 12. He gave a great speech to some visitors and they shouted, “It is the voice of a god, and not of man!” The angel of the Lord smote him on the spot. He was eaten with worms and died because he didn’t give God the glory.

On the other hand, look at James 4:10, “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He shall lift you up.”

The publishing industry is what it is. The author who wants to sell books must tell people they will enjoy the book. But that alone isn’t pride. When Paul looked back no his life, he wrote about how he had finished the course. The author of a book about widget painting, knows that the reader looking for information how to paint widgets will learn something from his book. The romance author knows her story well enough to know if it matches what a reader says she wants. And to some extent, a writer is able to compare his book to those of other writers.

Pride often carries with it a sense of entitlement, “my book is better than a lot of the stuff in the stores, so why can’t I get a publisher?” Humility would say, “it’s the publisher’s money, so it’s their business whether they give me a contract or not.” Pride looks at success and says, “See? I told you my book was good.” Humility looks at success and says, “What I did doesn’t seem worthy of this much success, so I need to work harder if I want to keep this up.” Pride says, “If you want to keep making money, you’ll treat me better.” Humility asks, “What can I do to help you?” Pride says, “I would never write a bad book.” Humility says, “Whatever ability I have is a gift from God.” Pride says, “This is the best novel since Pilgrims’ Progress.” Humility says, “This novel is some of my best work.”

Pride is much too easy and humility is hard. We set our eyes on the prize and it seems like the easiest way to get there is to shove other people out of our way. But humility causes us to look at it differently. The humble person isn’t bothered by those who do better than him. More than that, he looks for ways to help them be better than him. The humble person may enjoy the appreciation of others, but it isn’t the measurement of his success. Success is measured by how he is able to help others.