I once heard an old Italian proverb that tells of a man from Rome who comes upon a small-town fisherman lounging on his boat while others are out catching fish. The Roman asks why the fisherman is not doing the same. He explains that he has already taken in his catch for the day and is now relaxing.
“But you could take in another catch,” the Roman urges.
“Why would I want to do that?” the fisherman asks.
“Well, then you would have more money,” the Roman explains.
“And what would I do with more money?”
“Why, you could buy another boat and hire people to work for you. Then you could buy another, and perhaps another. You could own a fleet of boats and be a wealthy man, if you had the ambition.”
“And what would I do, if I had all these other boats and men working for me?”
“Well then,” the Roman said, “you could sit back and relax.”
The fisherman smiled. “But my friend, don’t you see? That is exactly what I am doing now.”
The fisherman’s perspective makes me smile, but something in me – perhaps my conformity to our task oriented society – squirms just a bit at his lack of ambition. Part of me wants to agree with the man from Rome. The fisherman should get up and get to work.
Perhaps that’s why I have such a hard time walking the line between trying to push my writing career ahead and sitting back and letting God open the doors of His choosing.
It’s a hard thing to sit back and relax when you get constant messages telling you the hundred and one marketing strategies you should be employing in order to be a “successful author.” It’s also a hard thing to know that your writing has made a difference in people’s lives yet still has a small audience. The pull is there to “make it happen.”
But then there are all those admonitions in scripture to “be still,” to “order our days aright,” and to “lean not on your own understanding.”
So what’s a writer to do?
“Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” (Matthew 22:21, NKJV). Jesus was talking about taxes when he said those words but they can also be applied to every aspect of our lives. The trick is, discerning which is which. I have come to the point of being able to recognize when I have crossed the line and am interfering with God’s part in my writing career, and my life. I get stressed. That’s my red flag, the warning light on the dashboard that tells me something is out of balance. That’s when I need to take a step back and remember all those scripture verses and apply them to my life and my writing career. That’s when I have to decide what belongs to God and what I should be doing to further my career.
When I turn to the Lord for answers and respond, the result is always peace. It always comes down to that very well-known scripture, “But seek first his kingdom (not your own) and his righteousness (not your own), and all these things (aka the success He intends you to have) will be given you as well.” (Matthew 6:33 – parentheses mine).
Marcia Lee Laycock writes from central Alberta Canada where she is a pastor's wife and mother of three adult daughters. She was the winner of The Best New Canadian Christian Author Award for her novel, One Smooth Stone and also has two devotional books in print. Her work has been endorsed by Sigmund Brouwer, Janette Oke, Phil Callaway and Mark Buchanan. Marcia's second novel, A Tumbled Stone was recently short-listed in the contemporary fiction category of The Word Awards. Visit Marcia's website