|Our collaboration from 2012|
John 13:34-35 (NIV)
34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
What a wonderful community we have as Australian Christian Writers.
Having lead Omega Writers for four years, I’ve had the privilege of seeing connections made, friendships formed, cooperation enacted, partnerships agreed upon. In the few years since I passed that mantle onto Penny Reeve, that glorious network has continued to grow. It warms the heart to see a thriving community of Christian writers. As our region of the world is small (in numbers) there is so much to be gained by standing together to encourage and promote creative writing.
But that doesn’t mean we will always experience roses and sunshine.
The closer we become, the more chance there is of us finding out each other’s faults. This likelihood is increased when authors choose to work together in cooperation on certain projects.
Just like every other family or community, there is going to be diversity of character, personality, experience.
Each of us will have a different way to write; a different way to discipline our process; different achievement goals; different perceptions of God’s Grace, and how it works; different social justice understandings, and how they should work. Goodness, we will barrack for different teams in sport, or won’t follow sport at all.
The thing about this wonderful colourful depth of experience and personality is that it is like two echidnas falling in love. How they come together must be done very carefully.
The thing we all have in common is our love for God, through the wonderful saving power of His son, Jesus Christ. That, and our passion for engaging a message of hope through writing.
Through my work with various Christian leadership and creative teams, I have found that this diversity means I work with leaders who don’t always agree. But so far, the grace of God in our midst has allowed most leadership teams to find consensus and move forward in grace and peace.
Most writers are leaders. A person who can discipline themselves to learn and apply from conception through to product is a person who has the ability to lead themselves, and most likely others around them.
I’ve worked in Christian leadership situations since I was sixteen. I’ve seen the good, the bad and the beautiful over forty something years. Sometimes we can be ugly. Sometimes we are offended. Sometimes we are reactive. Sometimes we are tired. Sometimes we are frustrated. And sometimes others see a version that is not our best self.
What do we do in these situations?
The opening Scripture: “…everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” sounds like good advice, but if we are honest, we don’t always feel very loving. Sometimes we’d like to give someone a piece of our mind.
In my long experience of conflict management (can you believe I’ve ever had conflict in my life? Joke) loving someone means submitting everything to God and asking for his wisdom and grace. We need His strategy in how to navigate towards restoration and His peace. It isn’t always easy. Actually, I’ve never found it to be easy.
That is the thing about love. If it is easy, it probably isn’t deep, abiding, Christ-like love.
I have a strong and bossy personality. A number of people have told me this over many years. I don’t like hearing it, as it’s usually delivered in a derogatory sense. Sure there might be a chuckle to go along with it, but I want to believe I’m a sweet easy-going personality. Needless to say, there has been more than one occasion when I’ve put my foot in my mouth, and followed it up by opening my mouth to change feet. I don’t want to hurt anybody. But it is an inevitable part of being a strong and confident personality. So what do I do when someone reacts.
My human nature wants to fire up and shoot back, but the grace of God, which has grown to some degree in my life, calms me down, and I pause to reflect.
What have I done to cause this reaction? Has the other person got the wrong end of the stick, or have I been insensitive? Either way, I need to open up dialogue when the time is right, and apologise. Sometimes the apology goes like this: “I’m sorry that you were hurt by what I said. I perhaps didn’t express myself properly. This is what I really meant.”
Sometimes I realise I have been insensitive and what I said was a trigger or unnecessarily harsh. I just need to straight up apologise.
I have learned, however, that waiting for the right time is important. Blundering into a volatile situation, even with the best intentions, often adds insult to injury. Best to wait on God for His timing. But I keep the situation before him in prayer, and ask for the courage, grace and wisdom to reach out when it is right.
As our Christian writing community continues to grow, and as many of us form connections and working relationships, I encourage us all to reflect on the love and grace of God.
One thing I know we would all want is for those around us to know we are Christians by our love for one another.
Blessed be the name of the Lord, Jesus Christ.
Please look out this month for the release of 'My Funny Valentine' box set of sweet clean rom coms (NB not Christian Fiction). Our romantic comedy 'Daring Mr Darcy' is featured in this set. Loads of fun from Carolyn Miller and myself. Available for pre order now.
Also, a group of Australian Christian authors (+ one Kiwi and one American) have banded to release a series of contemporary Christian romance novels. The Trinity Lakes Romance series will start at the end of February with Narelle Atkin's 'Never Find Another You'. Available for pre-order now.
My title, 'The Ocean Between Us' will be released next month.
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