Thursday, February 4, 2010

Pressure to Perform

Thursdays - Devotions for Writers

"As for the person who hears my words but does not keep them,
I do not judge him. For I did not come to judge the world,

but to save it.” (John 12: 47 NIV)

This past week I’ve spent a great deal of time thinking about how we’re judged on performance in all facets of our lives. I even posted an article titled, “Judged on Your Performance,” on my blog, From Dawn ’til Dusk.

I began contemplating this topic while watching a women’s figure skating competition on TV. The stakes were high because the two skaters with the highest scores not only won medals for that competition, they were also given spots on the U.S. Olympic team. Young women skated across the ice, displaying their skills, knowing that every move was being analyzed. A tremendous amount of pressure!

But what does being judged on performance mean for us, as writers?

If you’ve ever entered a writing contest, you've probably experienced a little anxiety while waiting for the results and the judge’s comments. If you received high scores, you were probably elated and encouraged. But if you received low scores – you might have said a few expletives and walked away from writing for several days.

You were judged on your performance. You were given a grade, just as you were while in elementary school, high school, and college. And don’t we all want to get As?

For unpublished authors, it can feel like your family and friends are judging your performance when they ask, “How’s the book coming?” and you’ve only finished a few more chapters since the last time they inquired. Or if your manuscript has been rejected, it can be difficult to confess that information to someone who doesn’t understand how the publishing world operates and how difficult it is to compete in that world.

Feeling the pressure to perform doesn’t stop once you’re published. Then you’re judged on how many books you write, how fast you can write, if the latest book is written better or as well as the last one, and how good the sales numbers are looking.

All of us may feel pressure to perform when it comes to juggling family needs, volunteer responsibilities, and other jobs while still trying to pursue our careers in writing.

Oh, yes . . . our performance is judged every day in one form or another.

But we can take delight and rest in the fact that God doesn’t look at our performance. He doesn’t hand over report cards with As for excellence and Fs for failing. He looks at our hearts and loves us unconditionally.

Praise God for that! Because there are days when I’m not so sure I’d like to see my own report card . . . ;-D

How have you felt pressure to perform?



  1. Great post, Dawn. Contests, for sure. But I also feel that pressure when I post blogs or write devotionals which I'm hoping will be picked up for publication. It's good to come back to the gracious truth of God looking at our hearts and loving us unconditionally. Thank you for that reminder. :)

  2. It's scary submitting. But I found the first time around, that it helped to check out that small-but-potent book from the library with famous rejection letters in it. Jane Austen, Ernest Hemingway; lots of neat people who got really, really nasty rejection slips from publishers. It's amazing, to think of those great authors being showed the door, and then, the sheer rudeness of the letters!

    I shared the choicest bits with my (non-writer) best friend and we laughed so hard, I had tears running down my cheeks.

  3. What a relief! Wonderful post, ladies.


We'd love to hear your thoughts! Please leave comments. We'll moderate and post them!