Do not be surprised, my brothers and sisters, if the world hates you (1 John 3:13, NIV).
One of the lovely aspects (I’m kidding) of ubiquitous communication in our world today is that nothing goes out without a comment in return. Positive and negative comments abound. Something written in passing or as an afterthought is met with an explosion of reaction.
A single bad review from a book reviewer pales in comparison to a Twitter mob deciding something you wrote eight years ago should be accelerated into a career-ending event.
The writer’s life just became a circus.
When George Bernard Shaw, the late British playwright wrote “A dramatic critic is one who leaves no turn unstoned,” he had no idea what things were going to be like seventy-plus years after he died.
Are you prepared for pushback to what you write? This is another qualifier when you are trying to decide if you are ready to be a published author.
As a Christian writer, you need to have your eyes wide open to the kind of audience you are writing to. And I am not referring only to the unbelievers reading and commenting on what you write.
I’ll ask again, are you ready for the pushback?
Here’s how to handle it:
- Don’t be surprised it is happening. (See above verse from 1 John.)
- Decide beforehand how you will respond (or not) to criticism.
- Practice how you will respond to emails and direct communication.
- Practice how you will respond to verbal questions in interviews.
- Never, ever apologize for standing up for what is right and biblical.
- When the pushback begins, respond slowly and with prayerful thought.
- In all, balance grace and truth.
Some Christian authors experience enormous amounts of pushback bordering on persecution, often from people who consider themselves to be Christians.
I can’t think of a type of Christian book that would be immune from all criticism.
“I don’t think you have ever actually lived in an Amish community and driven a horse-drawn carriage. You should be ashamed of yourself. You are a terrible person!”
That comment escalated fast. A lovely note from someone with the spiritual gift of discouragement.
By the way, there is no such thing as having a thick skin for this type of pushback. It is entirely different than the kind of criticism an editor gives to a writer. For that, you need to develop the skill to humbly submit to someone who actually might know more than you about constructing a book.
But the attack for what you write or even who you are is another thing entirely. It will sting, bring tears to your eyes, and make you wonder whether it was worth all the trouble.
Then you remember James, chapter 1:
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything (vv. 2-4, NIV).
And finally verse 12:
Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him (NIV).