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On a Sunday afternoon, I moaned about my writing career to my best friend Nancy. While we washed dishes, I complained, “I’ve worked hard and published a lot, but I’m not well-known and am financially challenged. I love what I do, but sometimes I feel like a failure.”
      Nancy turned to me, a dish in hand, and said, “That’s totally beside the point. You’re using your gifting. It’s not about the fame or money. It’s about doing the work.”
      Nancy knows. She’s a lifetime pianist and her husband works as a composer. To keep afloat, they both teach part time, but the couple’s chief passion is their own musicianship. They live among creatives in their city: actors, dancers, musicians, writers, and others. Most of them work in obscurity, compared to our culture’s definition of success.
      From that conversation I evaluated: As a writer, what is my definition of success? How do I look at failure? Should I keep taking risks?
Typically, during January we dream dreams, create goals, and plan schedules. We hope for, pray for, and expect success. It’s natural to want our best efforts to succeed. But what if we don’t reach those goals? Keep those schedules? Fail to publish a manuscript? Or market a book that doesn’t sell? What if our writing career doesn’t progress as planned?
      Maybe Nancy’s insistent belief can help. A writing ministry is about the work God gifted us to do. For Christians, success is following His calling, not the world’s definition of accomplishment. Whatever happens, we’re successful if we follow God’s path for us. Failure doesn’t exist. How much income we earn isn’t a measure of obedience. Risk isn’t as scary as it seems. We’re in the hands of a Father who delights in our desire to serve Him, to gratefully enjoy the gifts He gave us.
       The teacher Oswald Chambers wrote, “Our spiritual life cannot be measured by success as the world measures it, but only by what God pours through usand we cannot measure that at all.” That includes our writing, too.
 
As a writer, Judith Couchman has traditionally published 44 works. She also works as a writing coach and an adjunct university professor, teaching art history. Learn more about her at www.judithcouchman.com.

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