Measuring Success as a Christian Writer

Updated: Apr 24, 2020

This is my office. Well, not really. But this is where I spend a lot of my day. Surrounded by toys and crayons, I welcome other people's children into my home and we share the simple things of life. Walks to the park. Blowing bubbles. A million trips to the bathroom. These are the moments that make up my work-life, and I get paid to do them.

But I'm supposed to be a writer. I'm supposed to get paid to write!

Supposed to. Those are nasty words. If left to their own devices, those words will chew up your happiness and spit it out behind the treadmill of “hustling”. When people talk about hustling these days, they're talking about forcing their dreams into reality. It's about pushing yourself all day, every day. My friend, hustling makes you tired. I'm a mom. I'm already tired!

There's nothing wrong with my dreams of success as a writer, but I have to make sure that success doesn't come at the cost of contentment. I can't pursue my dreams for the future at the cost of today.

I've seen how the world measures successful writers. Large paychecks. Book deals. Speaking engagements. Thousands of engaged followers on social media. My life doesn't look like that. Not even close! It's far too easy for me to start the comparison game and allow jealousy or doubt to creep in. If I'm struggling to be heard, am I really called to write?

As a person of faith, what does success look like?

Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were blessed by God with flocks and herds, a sign of wealth. They certainly looked successful.

Some preach that wealth is a sign that God is happy with us. (And then they promise to show me how to unlock God's blessings for myself!) It may have been true of the patriarchs, but that sweeping declaration doesn't sit well with me when I look at the Bible as a whole.

I don't get the impression that the prophets felt all that successful. Elijah became so frustrated with his calling that he wanted to die. Elisha was called “Baldy”—not exactly a term of respect. The other prophets were ignored, mocked, threatened, or had to lead resistant people through great hardships. Not fun!

The apostles also didn't associate success with full wallets. Considering how the early church took it upon themselves to feed the poor, I doubt the church's bank account ever stayed full for long.

The apostle Paul, author of many letters in the Bible, made tents as a source of income. That's right, at at least one point, Paul had a job! Later, he ended up in prison. His life does not scream success in the eyes of the world, but he did not consider himself a failure. While in captivity, he wrote the most joyful letter in the Bible!

Aligning my ideas of success with God's

Sometimes I need to check my heart. Do I believe the mega-churches with full pews and overflowing collection plates are more successful in God's eyes than the small-town churches who rely on volunteers to fix the leaking roof? No.

Are the Christian singers rising to the top of national charts more important in God's eyes than the worship leaders who stir the soul of a mere hundred? Of course not.

Is the big-name author more valued in God's eyes than the writer who touched one heart? Hmm, gotcha.

I'm not going to lie. I still want to be a “real” author in the eyes of the world. I wish I had time to write eight hours a day in a pretty office instead of sacrificing my evenings. I wish I didn't have to hustle to get a handful of book sales. (I'm still paying off the cost of publishing my first book as