Thursday, September 17, 2009

Clothe Yourself with Kindness

Thursdays - Devotions for Writers

Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly
loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness,
humility, gentleness and patience.
(Col. 3:12 NIV)

As Christians, we know that we’re supposed to be compassionate, loving, and kind. But it isn’t always easy, is it? We’re still human and prone to fall short of all we should be. The temptation to be less than kind can even arise in our associations with other Christian writers and their work.

The critique group that Annette and I belong to has become very close. We not only share our work, we share our lives. But not too long ago we realized that the level of trust we’d built had opened the door to a place we didn’t really want to go. In critiquing our peers’ work we’d begun to make our points in manners that were sometimes more hurtful than helpful. Once we realized what was happening, we made some changes.

Many of us also review books written in various Christian genres. We post the reviews on our blogs, Amazon, or other book seller sites. It’s impossible to love every novel you pick up. There may be some you can’t even force yourself to read behind the first few chapters. The story, the writing, or both just don’t grab you. And if you’re a writer who has studied the craft for some time, it might be tempting to criticize the skill of the author.

Angela Hunt told a story during the ACFW (American Christian Fictions Writers) conference last year. She’d received an unpleasant email from a reader who said very unkind things about one of Angela’s books. In response, Angela wrote back, which enabled the reader to grasp the reality that the author was indeed a real live person with feelings of her own.

Honesty is important. We as writers will never grow in skill if people aren’t truthful about what we could do better. However, there are ways to share an honest evaluation of someone’s work and still be kind.

The next time you feel the temptation to write a scathing letter or review, I encourage you to check yourself. The next time you discuss another author’s work, keep guard on your words.

Remember to be kind.

It might be you on the receiving end some day.

Dawn

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