God Gave Me This Blog Post

God gave me this blog post.

By invoking divine inspiration I have guaranteed that you will read this post and possibly give me money to read more.

Sound like a stretch? Then what if I just wrote or said:
“God spoke to me”
“I was led to write this”
“God revealed this to me”
“I have been called to write this”
“I believe this is an inspired post”

In the Christian publishing industry editors, publishers, and literary agents hear these all time (and I suspect they are heard in the aisles and parking lots of churches every week). I’ve heard it on the phone, in person, and in writing…in varying degrees. Everything from “If you don’t accept this book idea you are not a Christian because God gave it to me” to “The Lord has laid this on my heart.” Obviously the first is outrageous, but what is wrong with the other one?

Often a writer will approach and say in whispered tones, “I know I’m not supposed to say this, but I truly believe that God gave me this story.” I know what they mean. They are trying to express their passion for their work and their sincere belief that it is life changing. Unfortunately it doesn’t always come across that way.

The Bible is very clear that God speaks to us via His Spirit, sometimes through other people in writing, speaking, singing, or actions. We are admonished “Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies.” (I Thessalonians 5: 19-20) But don’t stop reading the biblical text because in the next verse (v. 21) the apostle Paul wrote “Test everything.” The apostle John wrote further, “test the spirits to see whether they are from God.” (1 John 4:1)

Therefore the next time, before casually or intentionally using this type of language:

  1. Consider your motive. What is being accomplished by invoking divine inspiration? A legitimacy that was somehow missing before the statement crossed the lips? An expression of passion and sincerity? Is the phrase being used as manipulation?
  2. Consider your audience. The publishing professional being addressed has already made the assumption that God is inspiring a lot of people a lot of the time. That is intrinsic to the Artistic process. We assume that you are passionate about your work or that you feel it is inspired in some way, otherwise you would not be showing it to anyone. A few of the more sarcastic among us may be tempted to respond, “God told you but forgot to tell me” or “Really? God did that? Please sign this dotted line so we can get busy with publishing it!” You see how silly and mocking this can get?
  3. Consider your source. Annie Dillard wrote, “Does anyone have the foggiest idea what sort of power we so blithely invoke? Or, as I suspect, does no one believe a word of it?” (Teaching a Stone to Talk, page 40) Are you really speaking for God? Are your words supplanting God’s? Or adding to them? That is a danger of invoking God’s name in order to validate one’s material. “If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God…so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 4:11)

So before anyone takes offense, I’m not trying “quench the Spirit.” Instead I’m encouraging a bit of caution when talking this way among publishing professionals.


70 Responses to God Gave Me This Blog Post

  1. Avatar
    Marcy Kennedy April 5, 2011 at 5:35 am #

    I’m a member of The Word Guild, whose tagline is “Connecting, developing, and promoting Canadian writers and editors who are Christian.” They purposefully chose to say “writers who are Christian” rather than “Christian writers,” and I think that subtle (albeit semantic) difference is important when you want to avoid sounding like you think you’re the next Moses or Isaiah. A writer who is Christian is no different than a lawyer who is Christian or a doctor who is Christian—they’re a professional whose Christian values influence how they do their job. A doctor who is Christian may feel God called him to work with children with disabilities, but he’s not going to say to the next parents who come in, “The Lord has laid it on my heart that I have to treat your child” or “If you don’t let me rather than some other doctor treat your child, you are not a Christian because God gave me this calling.” A wise parent is going to react the same way an agent or editor does on hearing similar words, and they’re going to keep shopping around to find the best doctor for their child. If we make that switch in thinking from “Christian writers” to “writers who are Christians,” and run what we do and say through that filter of professionalism, I think we’ll all avoid a lot of really embarrassing mistakes.

    • Avatar
      Vicki Gann December 11, 2015 at 3:32 pm #

      Dear Steve,
      Thank you for your blog, but I must say I laughed several times because the reason I did read it was because of it’s title. I test everything! “God gave me this Blog Post” is what lead me to read it because I had to test and see if he really did. My conclusion was yes. Our Father truly gave me the understanding of the blog post. I can’t imagine someone telling someone else to read their work God had given them, and if they didn’t they were not Christians. Where is the faith in Christ in that statement? My writing has developed over the years because of my faith in him, he handles who accepts it, and who wants to take the journey with me; I have no idea. I just submit the work he has given me the way they suggest, and he handles the rest. That is the miracle of faith, and by my life, and the outcome of it he has taken me way beyond myself through faith. I and the agent do the work he puts in each of us that pours out, and he handles all the rest. Thank you for sharing this blog, and it confirmed what he had already given me. I never get enough of his confirmations through his children, that too increases our faith in him.
      His peace and grace always,
      Vicki Gann

  2. Avatar
    Richard Mabry April 5, 2011 at 6:02 am #

    Steve, The first time I heard a writer use this particular line was at my first writing conference, and I struggled with it–not because I thought the speaker was being manipulative (although they were saying it to a group of editors), but because I felt I was following God’s leading to write a book based on the trials I faced after the death of my first wife. Should I tell people that? I chose not to do so in conversations with editors and agents, but didn’t hesitate to give a truthful answer when asked by a friend. I guess it boils down, as you’ve intimated, to motivation and the reason behind using the phrase. Thanks for the post.

    • Avatar
      Dina Preuss August 1, 2011 at 1:07 pm #

      Hi Richard, I’m no Editor or Agent, but I can understand what Steve is offering us in his healthy advice above.

      Since his Agency is a “Christian” agency we can assume that the majority of queries his office receives are also from “Christian” Authors.

      With that being said,if Christian Authors are being led in their daily lives by the hand of God and the Spirit of the Holy One; then it is suffice to say that we all “feel” we are following God’s leading in writing a particular piece, in writing all the pieces we choose to write really.

      Having said that what Steve is so graciously trying to show us is that our prose should sand on the merrit of good writing alone, not hiding behind the words “God gave me this story.”

      I have read many stories from writer’s who claim just such a fact, but whose prose were so horribly written I could barely digest them and could certainly never encourage them to seek an Agent or an Editor.

      If your work is good it will stand on it’s own two feet. Many Christian Author’s faced multiply rejections prior to finally hearing that magical word: “Yes.” So we should never be foolish enough to believe that just because we feel God gave us a story we will hear Yes the very first time we place it in the hands of an Agent or Editor.

      I hope I helped. God Bless you as you write!

  3. Avatar
    John Barnts April 5, 2011 at 7:29 am #


    The first time I attended Mt. Hermon I sat next to an elderly lady at dinner with a huge binder full of poetry. I started looking through them, and quickly noticed that none of them had punctuation. When I asked her about it, she smiled and said, “The Lord doesn’t give them to me with punctuation.”

    I wish I was making that up.

    • Avatar
      Steve Laube April 6, 2011 at 8:30 am #

      Oh John. Welcome to our world! I too wish you were making that up.


  4. Avatar
    Lance Albury April 5, 2011 at 11:14 am #

    If your novel’s God-inspired, He doesn’t need you telling people that in order to have it published; He’ll make a way. And just because God gave you the story and “laid it on your heart” doesn’t mean He meant it to be published in the first place. He may just be molding character by teaching you patience or contentment.

    Of course, this only applies to other people–my novel needs to be published! 🙂

    • Avatar
      Janneke Jobsis Brown April 5, 2011 at 8:53 pm #

      really liked your comments Lance, funny. Of course God wants your book published!

  5. Avatar
    Aimee L. Salter April 5, 2011 at 11:18 am #

    I love this post! Thank you!

    I have these conversations christian writers all the time. I want to encourage everyone who knows God to trust HIM to reveal whether or not their (or my) work is His calling.

    I’m going to be sending these people to you from now on. Just saying.

  6. Avatar
    Janneke Jobsis Brown April 5, 2011 at 7:28 pm #

    I’m loving this post too. It reminds me of a great bit I heard on KLUV (sp? the Christian radio station). A woman who helps others alleviate their debt, said that one of her greatest impediments when helping people become debt-free is something like this kind of language.

    “But we prayed and this is the house that God led us to…”
    “I asked for guidance and this is the car God wanted me to have…”
    She heard these sentences from people who’s decisions led them to be “in the red” every month.

    When helping others to not longer think this way (falsely), she calls it NOT “spiritualizing” your spending, and learning to keep it simple.

    For writers, or rather for myself, let me say that following my faith in writing means keeping it simple. A conversation may lead around naturally to how God directs me to write, or how a friend is inspired to write. However, I don’t tell people that God directed me…

    Because for one thing to try to tell others how God directs me (and maybe them) could also just plain be too amusing! I often have it all wrong until I spend more quiet time in prayer or consult some wise friends.

    Here’s to genuine inspiration and humility everyone.

  7. Avatar
    Kate April 5, 2011 at 8:32 pm #

    Well, thanks for addressing an issue that really struck a chord with me. It’s not just authors who employ the “God” card…it’s also artist and musicians….and of course, many others. And frankly, sometimes it seems arrogant.

    Hopefully we’ll all remember to have a measure of humility and grace when discussing our work.

  8. Avatar
    Judith Robl April 5, 2011 at 8:50 pm #

    Had a lady once tell me that God told her that she and I were to be doing something in tandem for him. Funny he told her and not me. We didn’t do it, of course, because I was disobedient and wouldn’t participate. I have never regretted that “disobedience.”

    Invoking “God said” is an awesome responsibility. One had better be very certain that God really did say it exactly that way before repeating it.

    • Avatar
      Dina Preuss August 1, 2011 at 1:20 pm #

      Judith, I am a Jew who has come to Messiah and we have a teaching that is: “Truth is established with two or three witnesses.” 🙂 God never tells anyone anything without establishing it through witnesses or it is not truth. Just thought you might enjoy this information.

  9. Avatar
    Sally Apokedak April 5, 2011 at 9:03 pm #

    This is an interesting post. I’ve seen a lot of people lately talking about God’s calling on writers and I’ve thought a lot about this issue over the years, but I’ve never thought about what motivates someone to say that God has called him to write. Of course we can’t know for sure what motivates someone else, but I think you’re right to suggest that we should search our own hearts and check our own motivation.

    Very thought provoking. Thanks.

    • Avatar
      Rick Barry April 6, 2011 at 3:24 am #

      It seems to me that, if God definitely were to give a specific message to an author and He definitely wanted it published, then there would be no need to announce that fact. The Almighty would also impress on an editor (and agent) the importance of the material if that were the case. I, too, feel that the Lord gave me the initial spark for my current suspense novel; however, what I do NOT know is whether He intends for it to be published. Perhaps He simply wants me to think through a number of issues that arise in the story? Or could it be that He supplied me with an idea that was exciting enough to grip my attention long enough to keep me pecking away at the keyboard every day in order to improve my craft for some future project? Or is it possible that He gave me this idea just to keep me out of trouble? Hard to say! But every time one of my short stories, articles, or books has made it to publication, then I’ve praised the Lord for using that work to touch lives as He sees fit.

      • Avatar
        Teddi Deppner April 7, 2011 at 1:45 pm #

        My thoughts exactly, Rick. If it’s true, then it doesn’t need to be said, and especially not to a publishing professional. If it can’t stand on its own merit (and the unspoken but powerful favor and anointing of God that is on the writing itself), then there are issues. It could be any of the things you mentioned (different purposes for writing it than the purpose of publishing it), or even it is meant to be published but not today! Or not by *that* agent or *that* publisher!

      • Avatar
        Dedicated Writer - Tammy L. Hensel April 18, 2011 at 11:19 am #

        I was going to say something similar. Steve, great blog post and Rick great comment.

  10. Avatar
    cathrl April 6, 2011 at 4:40 am #

    I think it’s often used almost as a challenge. “God told me to write it like this”…so don’t you dare suggest that it might need editing. “God thinks it’s perfect” is so much stronger than “I think it’s perfect”, after all…

    Nothing wrong with “God inspired me to write this story”, but I really twitch at “and then He told me I didn’t need to put any effort into telling it as well as I possibly can.”

    (btw, I read this post purely because of the title 🙂 )

    • Avatar
      Steve Laube April 6, 2011 at 8:32 am #

      It can all be in the title!

  11. Avatar
    Peter DeHaan April 6, 2011 at 4:54 am #

    This may just be my issue, but I need to guard against making false assumptions about what God tells me.

    While God called me to write the book I am working on, he never told me that it needs to be published (though I hope it is). He never told me that I have to find an agent. He never said that if no one will publish it that I must self-publish, regardless of cost.

    He just told me to write it.

    (And if he ever tells me that Steve Laube is to be my agent — just keep that to myself!)

    • Avatar
      Steve Laube April 6, 2011 at 8:35 am #

      I have actually had authors tell me, point-blank, that God told them I should be their agent. No kidding. It can be a very awkward moment in the conversation. So, if you to have that Ezekiel-type vision? Best not use it to “close the sale.”

  12. Avatar
    Victorya Rogers April 6, 2011 at 6:13 am #

    I so remember getting these type of calls from aspiring writers, directors and actors trying to break into Hollywood who would find out I was an agent who happened to be a Christian. Amazing how many heard from God that I was to be their agent. Some even heard my name in a dream. In most cases they quite clearly heard the wrong voice. Using the phrase “God told me” is too often manipulation (even if unintentional). Must say it was always delicate to turn them down in a loving way because some would hate me and come up to me at events– some were so devastated that it affected their faith–but my career depended on me representing talent I could obtain paid work for (same with Steve).

    Here’s the great news for all those writers who feel God told them to write their project: If an agent or publisher turns you down– simply self publish and you can quickly have your book in hand, fulfill what you are convinced God told you to do and have no hard feelings for those who didn’t share your vision. Go easy on Christians making a living trying to get writers work–they have to feed their families too and if they don’t feel they can sell you, then they, personally, can’t and it doesn’t mean they are mean or unChristian.

  13. Avatar
    Steve Laube April 6, 2011 at 8:39 am #

    I discovered this morning that I nearly “stole” the headline from a blog post by Rachelle Gardner! Yikes!

    Rachelle is one of the top bloggers in the entire publishing industry and I encourage you to follow her daily posts (I read them every morning). Here is the one that is an echo of what I wrote yesterday: http://cba-ramblings.blogspot.com/2008/06/god-told-me-to-write-this-blog-post.html

    I promise I didn’t know of the similarity to her headline. Sorry about that Rachelle.

    In my defense? God gave me that headline.

    • Avatar
      Rachelle April 6, 2011 at 8:53 am #

      Steve, God sent me to your blog today and imagine my surprise to find out you STOLE my blog post from 3 years ago. God has laid it upon my heart to seek retribution. I will pray about it before taking any action.

      • Avatar
        Steve Laube April 6, 2011 at 9:04 am #


        My lawyer writes to your lawyer with a simple address:
        “2 Peter 2:3.”

      • Avatar
        Sandie Bricker April 6, 2011 at 2:43 pm #

        Now,kids. No fighting!

        God told me to tell you that.

      • Avatar
        Adam Heine April 6, 2011 at 7:06 pm #

        This comment thread is the best. Thanks for the laughs, Steve and Rachelle!

      • Avatar
        Betty Graves August 20, 2018 at 7:09 am #

        I love it! I hope I can use this the next time someone tells me, “You have to agree with me because God told me what to do.” I love reading your comments.

  14. Avatar
    Rick Barry April 6, 2011 at 8:59 am #

    Wow, the first two volleys in the upcoming thriller, War of the Agent Worlds! I can’t wait to see the trailer for this one….

  15. Avatar
    Ellie Kay April 6, 2011 at 9:54 am #

    I’ve been to writers conference as faculty and have been assigned to read manuscripts from writers. As I’ve read over some of the poorly written, unimaginative and mundane work, I’ll sometimes have the writer tell me, “God gave me this” and I just want to say, “then PLEASE give it back!”

  16. Avatar
    Jason April 6, 2011 at 10:34 am #

    I had a friend tell me before I went to Blue Ridge for the first time to never utter the phrases “God told me to…” or “God gave me…” to anyone who wasn’t an unpublished author. He said anyone else would immediately dismiss me as a rank amateur wanna-be. It flashed me back to my decades in radio when someone would walk in with CD telling me that God told them I should play their music. I guess God can be a more than just mighty to save…He can be a mighty big crutch for some.

  17. Avatar
    Eric Satchwill April 6, 2011 at 10:49 am #

    This comes at an interesting time in my journey. I don’t call myself a Christian – not yet sure if I ever will – but what I’m writing is getting way to deep and involved for it to have just been me. Something is leading me. Something has taken me by the hand and made me reconsider things I once rejected.

    Is this God’s work? Well, we’ll see. I may fancy myself an Ezekiel, but honestly I feel more like a C. S. Lewis. Blind faith isn’t my style; I need to know that what I’m saying is as true and right as possible before letting it go.

  18. Avatar
    Greg Mitchell April 6, 2011 at 10:59 am #

    I’ve seen a number of these sort of posts pop up and I get what they’re saying.

    I’ve often accredited my stories as being a “gift from God”–but a gift to ME not, necessarily to the whole world :p They surprise me and entertain me and I give honor to God for that. I’ve never used that thought as a means of saying “This story is perfect and you’re a heathen if you disagree with me.” Because, at the end of the day, no matter how inspired I feel, I still have to write it and then a human element enters in–usually with a lot of bad grammar–and that’s not God’s fault. To me, though, I look at it as the same as my wife. My kids. I see those as gifts given me by God. And, aren’t they? Isn’t my writing? Maybe not every single story was born in Heaven, no, but my imagination is given me (and everyone) by God. Don’t all good things come from God? People say that claiming something came from On High sounds arrogant–and I know those people they’re talking about. People have come up to me and said “God told me to tell you this” and I roll my eyes. God knows my number, He usually just calls me up direct and I don’t need some stranger off the side of the road speaking for him. But, wouldn’t it be arrogant to take the opposite approach? To say “I thought of this story all by myself. No help from God whatsoever. Nope. This one is all me, me, me, me.”

    If it’s bad writing, I take the blame. If it turns out good, I give God the credit.

  19. Avatar
    James Scott Bell April 6, 2011 at 11:00 am #

    Agents talking about themselves and lawyers? Now you KNOW this didn’t come from above.

    • Avatar
      Rick Acker April 6, 2011 at 1:16 pm #

      True, but remember that it’s completely different when LAWYERS talk about themselves and agents.

  20. Avatar
    Hazel Moon April 6, 2011 at 11:03 am #

    God speaks in the language of the person receiving. It is amazing that God sometimes sounds like a Texan, and other times he forgets to use commas.

    Where would you like me to send you the money?? 🙂
    I’ll just keep it for you here until you can make it over this way. smile

  21. Avatar
    Brian Ronk April 6, 2011 at 11:17 am #

    I believe God has called me to write, but that doesn’t mean that what I write is worth reading all the time. It also doesn’t mean that I heard correctly. If what I believe I heard is true, a way will be opened for me to do what He has called me to do.
    An author shouldn’t expect to be published just because God called them to it. Nor should they use that as a reason (or an “excuse”) for being published.
    We should look to Abraham for some insight. God said that he would have a son to fulfill His Promises to Abraham. How long did it take? Just because God has called you, it doesn’t mean it will happen right now, or even in your lifetime.

  22. Avatar
    Lyndie Blevins April 6, 2011 at 12:31 pm #

    Dear Steve,

    Wise words we writers can never hear enough. As believers, we want to hear God’s call on our lives. When we have a thought, an idea pop into our heads which we recognize is not our own, it is exciting. We need to find the right avenue to share our excitement about the call. It makes perfect sense for the publishing world to not be the place to share. In fact, without the call, why would we attend a Christian writing conference?

  23. Avatar
    Dana Brown April 6, 2011 at 2:11 pm #

    I spoke with a friend on this very subject just the other day. I wholeheartedly agree with your 3 points of Consider the motive, audience and source. When people use the “God told me” statement it tends to shut down the conversation by negating any response you may have.

  24. Avatar
    Lynda Schab April 6, 2011 at 2:39 pm #

    A worship pastor I know once said that when he hears people say “God gave me this song” (or in our case, “God gave me this book”), he feels it’s that God gives us the talent and imagination to create it rather than actually “gives us” the song or book. I totally agree with this. I believe God is thrilled when we create our own stories using the abilities and creativity He gave us.

    • Avatar
      Adam Heine April 6, 2011 at 7:10 pm #

      I love this, Lynda. Thank you. God made us creative beings, just as He is a creative being (in His image, and all that). It wouldn’t make sense for him to supply all our ideas then. There’d be no room left for us to use the creativity God gave us!

      • Avatar
        Virginia April 11, 2011 at 12:20 am #

        Lynda, that was perfect!

  25. Avatar
    LaJoie Ward April 6, 2011 at 8:27 pm #

    God gives us all of our talents, but that doesn’t necessitate our using him as a free lunch ticket. We need to do our best with what he’s given us and present it in the best way possible.

    If it really is from him, we won’t need to stamp it all over with “GOD GAVE ME THIS.”

    His fingerprints on our work will be evident and will be proof in themselves that we’ve diligently invested his gifts for His glory.


  26. Avatar
    Lenore Buth April 7, 2011 at 2:34 pm #

    Great post, Steve, and lots of good comments.

    I love it when I’m writing and I look at the words I just wrote and ask myself, Now where did THAT come from? Sometimes it’s a thought, sometimes it’s a turn of phrase. But it wasn’t there before. Somehow that feels like confirmation to keep going.

  27. Avatar
    Jessie Gunderson April 7, 2011 at 6:39 pm #

    My husband and I are always teasing eachother about the Christianese that sneaks into our vocabulary. His more than mine, of course. 😉

    I realize that in many cases we don’t think about what we are saying. Instead we just spout it out without understanding or without considering the audience.

    I’ll get off my pulpit and quit preachin’ to the choir before someone smites me. Oh boy, I’m such a church brat!

  28. Avatar
    Kristen White April 8, 2011 at 4:56 am #

    I don’t think we assume that everything we are inspired to write should be mass published. Does God want His Word to go out? Of course! Will I keep working toward publication? Yes, until He nudges me to stop. But seeing my name on a book is not the goal.
    I have written many notes to friends that will and should not be published, studies and devotions that pulsed through me until I got them on paper. Read only by a few, they were still used in those lives. The goal is our obedience and the encouragement and equipping of the Church.
    I love listening to the trio of gals at my church sing. They probably won’t be picked up by a Nashville label, but I’d spend the day talking with them about the Lord or letting them advise or correct me about anything. The goal is relationships, not fame.
    If we are not faithful in the small things—the way we talk to our spouse and kids, the way we serve the least of these, the way we interact with our neighbors, even the way we “do” our pursuit of publishing—why should God entrust us to be a megaphone to a larger audience? The goal is His glory. If we lose sight of our reason to write, why be published? We’ll only add noise to a world clamoring with too many meaningless sounds.

  29. Avatar
    Larry Carney April 9, 2011 at 11:51 am #

    Perhaps it is because there are those who are so insecure about their writing that they feel the need to justify it. Simply put, writing is not a respected vocation in America; tell someone “I’m a writer” and they’ll ask how far behind on the rent you are.

    There are also those who may feel that taking any pride or ownership of their work is sinful; because if “God didn’t tell them to write it” is it simply a work of vanity?

    Yet what makes this issure even stranger to me, is when work that seems to be so powerful and passionate in its showing of faith doesn’t get the recognition it deserves, if one argues that the work truly was Inspired with a capital “I”….after all, when was the last time anything by Flannery O’ Connor was on a best-seller list?

  30. Avatar
    Janalyn Voigt April 11, 2011 at 4:57 pm #

    Invoking God seals a matter. The hearer must either believe or risk God’s wrath. Putting others on the spot in this way removes choice. How can this be God, then? He never does that.

    • Avatar
      Pearl Allard September 8, 2017 at 10:45 am #

      Janalyn, well said. I’m writing that down!

  31. Avatar
    MG April 14, 2011 at 11:16 am #

    Interesting. What if, for example, on a particular manuscript, a writer gets dozens and dozens of references to a particular piece of Scripture during the writing/editing of the manuscript through multiple sources (sermons, books, movies, Bible studies, etc.). Then what? What if those occur during difficult times in the writing process? (i.e. wanting to give up on the manuscript, give up on writing, etc.)

    Because of the incidents you’ve mentioned above, I could see where a writer would not want to even bring up such issues in a cover letter, at a conference, etc. even if they maybe had a legit testimony.

  32. Avatar
    John Sleeper June 21, 2011 at 7:48 am #


    All your BLOG posts are exceptionally informative as is your entire website. However, being a new writer (well actually I’ve been writing for many years but am just looking into getting published) I am getting mixed signals from you. I am definitely convinced that I need an agent but…

    Christian publishing?

    Does this mean I must use the phrase, “Praise Jesus” in every other sentence? Or do you accept other types of spirituality without the overtones of religion (the I talk to spirits stuff?)

  33. Avatar
    Dina Preuss August 1, 2011 at 1:43 pm #

    Hi Steve, I am attending an upcoming conference That Karen is speaking at and came to your site to gather your guidelines.

    After following the bunny-trail I found myself at this informational Post and have enjoyed spending the past 30 minutes visiting with your readers’ thoughts, but must now get back to my manuscript.

    I don’t think I’ve ever said those words to an Agent or Editor, but you can be certain I’ll be monitoring my tongue from now on to make sure I don’t.

    I’ve had many others say these words to me in various situations, not just writing, and they never do set well when they’re spoken. As you said it’s almost as though the person using them has no authority and therefore need some “God” muscle to qualify what they are saying.

    Thanks for Post it is very thought provoking.


  34. Avatar
    Steve Melton September 29, 2011 at 8:38 am #

    I believe God has given me whatever amount of creativity and talent I have. I have written seven books in the past few years, three of which are novels. I believe all but one were God inspired. The exception was a novel about a little old lady who makes a living street racing in Pasadena. I believe all the rest were God inspired. Here’s the interesting part. None of them have been published. I have always used my writing as a means to bless God, myself, and my family and friends. I have only made one attempt at getting one of my works published. A year ago I submitted a novel to Steve Laube. I thought it was a great story. I even included a note on the last page, “Heavenly father, I dedicate this novel to your greatness and glory. I truly believe you wrote it, and will use it to bless my famliy by making me a successful, prosperous author.” Steve turned it down. Then I studied some books on writing skills, went back and looked at my inspired work again. It was a mess. Knowing what I know now, I can’t blame him for turning it down. He can be thankful that I won’t sic God on him. It has since been rewritten and edited. I ended up slashing thirty pages out of it. The improvement was dramatic. I might even submit it again some day ….. maybe. One of the problems was that it was not God centered. God was an element in several of the chapters, just not the entire work. The novel I have just completed is absolutely God centered in every chapter. As soon as I finish this note I will get a proposal together and try again. I think the main point here is, just because one feels inspired by God to write a novel, that doesn’t mean that craftsmanship and creativity can be ignored. God might give me a set of mechanic’s tools to work with, and a guy in an expensive Mercedes might show up in my driveway. But if I work on his car and don’t know what I’m doing, his car will be a mess. Just like my novel. And it won’t matter how much I like turning wrenches, or how much I love the car. You will never find a mother who has just given birth to a first child, who will admit that the beat up, slimy little bass lure placed in her arms isn’t beautiful. It’s the same thing with first novels. I hope this helps. Now, back to work on my proposal.

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      Dina Preuss October 2, 2011 at 9:14 pm #

      Hi Steve, while your comment was interesting and I do agree with the final outcome about realizing you got rejected because your novel needed some major work; I think missed the entire point of Steve Laube’s post which was “not telling him that God gave you this piece of work”

      The very thing he said NOT to do is precisely what you ended up doing in the page you included with the little note that read as a prayer: “Heavenly father, I dedicate this novel to your greatness and glory. I truly believe you wrote it, and will use it to bless my famliy by making me a successful, prosperous author.”

      In a round-about way (through a little prayer note) you were letting Steve Laube know that God not only gave you the book, but that God also wrote that book, and by supporting it Steve will be honoring Gods very greatness and glory!

      Those are the very things Steve told us not to do in his post. We truly can learn from our mistakes if we watch for them.

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        Steve Melton October 3, 2011 at 7:26 am #

        Ouch. Dina, Thanks for taking enough interest to email me. But you may have missed my point, which means other readers may have missed it also. The prayer note was my attempt to point out how bone headed I was about everything. I guess I didn’t explain myself well enough. The prayer was not included in this post as any kind of proof that God gave me this book. I was just trying to let the reader know what my frame of mind was at the time I finished writing my book. I was obviously presumptuous for believing God wrote it. I believe there was a certain amount of Godly influence involved. But God didn’t write it. I did. And that’s why it was rejected. It just took a while for me to realize it. I thought about not including the prayer note in this blog because it was kind of a personal thing. But then I thought there might be others who had similar experiences and might feel a little better about making the same mistakes. I hope people will realize I was making fun of myself. I agree with everyting Steve Laube has to say on this subject. So, just have a Coke and a smile. And if every third reader will pray for me, it will be a great day. Love in Christ. Steve.

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    Anthony Patterson June 27, 2012 at 7:31 pm #

    Awesome post! Naturally, I’m concerned whether Our Lord actually did inspire what I’m writing, and wants me to write it. All I would say to any of you would be, “Have any of y’all, maybe, I don’t know, heard anything from the Almighty about my work yet? Jus’ checkin, that’s all. ‘Cuz if He did, well I sure would want to know about it!”

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      Anthony Patterson MD June 27, 2012 at 7:42 pm #

      But seriously, I think another motivation for some people’s use of this language, at times, is a profound anxiety and insecurity about putting themselves forward — about asserting themselves. “God told me . . .” provides a lead-in for such folks, for whom it might be profoundly difficult to say, “*I* want you to read *my* work, and *I* want you to represent *me,* and push *my* work all the way to publication.” This might especially be true for those Christians brought up in a faith tradition where any and all self-assertion is seen as sinful, even when otherwise done for virtuous purposes.

      Having said that, I very much appreciate the Annie Dillard quote. I find her to be spot-on.

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    Cindy Valenti Scinto November 21, 2012 at 1:09 pm #

    Malcolm Wild, pastor of Calvary Chapel Merritt Island, Florida and accomplished musician said, “When someone tells me God gave them a song, I ask, ‘What’s wrong? He didn’t want it anymore?'”

    I heard that more than 15 years ago and it always sticks with me. A good striking comment to remember. 8^)

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    Annie B. Garman June 3, 2014 at 10:12 am #

    I’m so glad you said this, “The publishing professional being addressed has already made the assumption that God is inspiring a lot of people a lot of the time. That is intrinsic to the Artistic process.” I guess I never thought of that. I feel like I have to CONVINCE publishers of that instead of trusting that they already know that. Excellent post, Steve!

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    Margo Carmichael July 18, 2014 at 8:33 am #

    Well, in response to Annie Dillard, hearing a word from God is not necessarily “adding to God’s words” or “supplanting” them. Otherwise, the Holy Spirit wouldn’t give us prophecy or a word of wisdom or a word of knowledge.
    Or even a whole book.
    That said, yes, in our field, we would assume many works are inspired by God. That doesn’t mean we should pressure agents and editors to handle a work that is not quite polished or suited for their lines just because we, and maybe, God, love it.

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    Lois Keffer July 29, 2016 at 10:57 am #

    Yes, this is an older post, but I’m going to burst if I don’t reply. At a former place of work we saved Friday afternoon break for a giggle fest centered on absurd submission letters. (Names and faces shall be withheld for protection of the innocent.) One particular letter from the slush pile managed to escape the appointed time slot. Bursts of howling laughter traveled from office to office along with the letter. It opened with something very like your title. One-word sentences from a language none of us knew were scattered throughout. The gut-busting highlight found in the closing promised curses upon our company, our persons and our families if we failed to publish this urgent message from God. We found that more than a little scary. I secretly prayed for protection before leaving the building that day. I wouldn’t be surprised if others did the same. Threatening editors’ lives might not be the best way to get your submission to the top of the pile!

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    Michael LaRocca March 26, 2018 at 6:48 am #

    I guess it was around 1979 or 1980 when I wrote the line “Does God need an editor?”

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    Norma Brumbaugh April 28, 2018 at 1:41 pm #

    My two cents:
    I understand the purpose and tenor of this post. I am sure the agency tires of hearing the many “God gave me this” submissions–I’m sure you see everything–but there are times when it could be true, I would think. Here’s my reasoning:
    Another way to look at it:
    The Good Shepherd leads His sheep to the green pastures and still waters where they eat and drink of His provision. The sheep, in turn, give out from what they have received. They listen to the Good Shepherd and follow where He leads, which may be part of their writing journey and their obedience to Him.
    I can’t speak from a perspective borne by experience in the professional, faith-based writing/publishing business, so my words can be discounted. However, that said, it is my belief that God does empower His message to go forth through divinely appointed messengers, faithful to His dear cause. They would be in error to hide their light–the message God has enlightened them to speak–under a bushel.
    Although this may be unwise for them to acknowldege in a query, proposal, or blog, it can nevertheless be true. Their words are not written as in new revelation but are given forth as a validation of the Holy Writ and verification that God is still active in the world today.
    How do we know? The secret to “Is it or isn’t it?” is found in the writer’s walk with God, whether their words align with Scripture, and whether their message has been confirmed by God, His word, and His people. Spiritual wisdom and discernment are needed.
    Thank you for hearing me out.

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    Laura December 5, 2018 at 12:15 pm #

    I have found that even if God gives you something, that doesn’t mean He put you up to it. Israel asking for a king comes to mind. Also, many of the things I receive from do get written down but not broadcast to the whole world.

    God is very personal. Much of what we receive is based on what we ask Him for. He doesn’t just dictate this or that. His chosen way with man is a partnership.

    I love that about him.

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    Richard James Seibert January 27, 2019 at 2:20 pm #

    Dear Mr. Laube

    Thanks for this informative blog. It is time someone came out about this “God told me this, or if you do not hear what God spoke to me you are not Christian etc.” It is those kind of words that start most of the cults and probably Jim Jones and most of the “Date setters ” like Harold Camping used to get people to believe what they had to say and possibly Hitler used to further their own means of self gratification. please keep informing people writers as well as readers because as Christ’s return draws near the antichrists will be growing.

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    Julie Mitchell April 21, 2019 at 5:21 am #

    The title of this post caught my attention. I read it specifically to see what kind of Christian subculture you fit into, and to learn more about the kind of authors you want to represent, and how you interpret the Word of God and apply it to your work. I have to say that I am very pleased and impressed. Thank you for addressing this.

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    R. J. A. Gilbert July 24, 2019 at 5:40 pm #

    I am reminded of the ironic admonishment to those who say they are waiting for their “knight in shining armor”: “Don’t give that kind of knight a second glance; the knight whose armor is dented and dirty—that’s the guy who is getting things done!”

    Christians should be looking for the same thing in their spiritual leadership. I agree that there is an overabundance of people claiming to speak for God—and especially using it as leverage to gain a book deal or grow their platform. However, one of the best tells of a true follower of the Spirit is the opposition that such an individual is facing for following that still, small voice. The person who is carrying (and trying to share) God’s word is not the guy with the whitest smile—on the contrary, he’s more likely the one most undeservedly getting his spiritual (and sometimes literal) teeth kicked in by the princes of this dark world.

    I’m not saying people should seek out trials and self-mutilation to give credibility to the “word” that they want to share. I’m saying they should maybe stop shouting for recognition and pay a little more attention to the guy in the back of the Fellowship Hall whose hassle-riddled life is so anti-glamorous (if not downright unpleasant) that nobody in the church wants to so much as make eye contact with him. Maybe the reason Satan is beating up on that guy so bad (and putting accusations into your mind as to why he deserved it) is because that’s the guy that’s trying to save your church from the scandals and corruption that the enemy has already planted in your midst. Maybe that’s the guy who is trying to strengthen your youth group to produce several of the next generation’s best spiritual leaders. And maybe, just maybe, when he shares that “God has put this message on his heart” and hands you a manuscript that he’d like you to give him feedback on, you are about to get a taste of the spiritual warfare he goes through every single day of his life…or you’ll just get distracted and tired and fall asleep whenever you try to read it (and not because it’s poorly written, either).

    So yes, don’t believe everybody who says “God led me to write this.” But there’s a reason why people say that; at one time, and sometimes still, it was a very true statement.

    And one of the best ways to tell if it is true is to see how the Adversary responds to it.

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    Cheeksandtoez October 14, 2019 at 11:49 am #

    Thank you for sharing this amazing post. Hope readers will like it. I really appreciate for putting such efforts.

  47. Avatar
    Marlene Salcher January 11, 2021 at 10:45 am #

    I read your post and understand but it’s also made me wonder if I missed God on the writing of my first book and maybe my last. It was a very painful process and one quote by Chuck Swindoll really spoke to me about writing. He wrote, “The closest a man can come to understanding childbirth is by writing a book.”
    After reading his quote and completing my book and hearing all the things at writers conferences that caused me to feel inadeqaute, it all made me wonder, “Why in the world would I want to write a book and why would God want me to write one when He’s written the best book of all time?” But it seemed the more I doubted myself and struggled, it’s as if the stories contiuned to come and I did finish. Of course in saying that and reading this post, I know many would probably have trouble with my title and some of my stories, but God has used my book to speak to a number of people and I guess that’s what it was supposed to do. I know it may not be what some would expect but I know the healing that occurred in the process. One well known editor once told me, “You know I only work with the big ones.” Years later, after completing my book, I wrote him a letter. In it I told reminded him of what he said and that I was now a big one because as I wrote God was growing me up on the inside in the process of writing. It just took many years and many tears to do so and to Him I am truly grateful regardless of all the expectations of others I had to overcome. I say, “To God be the glory great things He has done in spite of my ignornance, inadequencies and fears.”
    O, I have a couple of ideas for more but again, I just don’t know if I want to go through the pain of writing more! God bless, Marlene


  1. Kim Bangs, Regal Books « Girls With Pens - April 15, 2011

    […] agents take it as a given that God “gave” you this book. (Check out Steve Laube’s excellent blog post on that.) You especially need to avoid saying that God told you their house needs to be the one to […]

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