This subject has been covered before by smarter people at our agency, but I am hoping that Steve Laube considers imitation truly the greatest form of flattery!
Every aspiring or experienced Christian author is alerted to avoid mentioning that “God told me to write this book” when speaking to an agent or publisher. Why is that?
Reason #1: Working within the Christian publishing world there should be an assumption that authors are motivated by God, that agents seek wisdom from God in deciding who to represent and that publishers are seeking God’s guidance in the process of deciding what to publish.
Reason #2: Invoking God’s guidance when talking to an agent or publisher could be viewed as an attempt to manipulate whether you intended to or not. I am very sorry to say that over the years some authors have done that intentionally and frankly, it poisons the well for the genuine good-hearted author.
Years ago, in a meeting with a group, an author asked if they could pray for the discussion we were just about to have. Of course, we agreed. The prayer was a good start, until the author asked God to make the rest of us in the meeting see things the way they wanted…because, of course, the author was on a mission from God and the rest of us evidently were not.
Reason #3: Should your book be published, a God-led editor will be asked to join you in a journey to make your book the best it can be. Was your motivation to invoke “God gave this to me” an attempt to avoid being edited? You need to check your real motivation.
Reason #4: Using “God gave me” language elevates you (intentionally or unintentionally) to a position of authority or importance over a group of people who will be spending a lot of money to publish your book. Rather than trusting their experience and wisdom, you are appearing to elevate yourself above them. At a time when teamwork and collaboration is important, you have just broken that down by declaring your opinion more valid.
Sorry for the tough words on all this. My intention is not to offend anyone. This entire issue is about heart-level issues, which are truly between each of us and our God who gives us the strength and wisdom to do anything.
By simply assuming that people working in every aspect of Christian publishing are on the same page spiritually, it can avoid a lot of misunderstandings and questionable motives…whether real or perceived.
To end on an uplifting note, here is an example how all this really comes together.
Many years ago, working with an elderly pastor on a project, I received a phone call from him in the morning telling me that he had a dream the night before and God spoke to him, giving him some new things to say. I asked him to send us this “new material” given him because we were concerned about “creating Scripture”. After receiving the material, our team reviewed it and smiled.
This dear man of God, who had studied God’s word for decades, had dreamt Scripture. All the hours immersing himself in the Bible came pouring forth in a dream as if God was speaking to him personally…which he was.
The words given him were from the Psalms and God spoke to him in soaring words to encourage an elderly servant. It was God’s gift to him that night.
Rather than doubt whether someone hears from God, I’d rather assume that God is always speaking to each of us who love him.