By Cindy K. Sproles
I attended an intense writing class a couple of years back. It’s true that a good writer never stops learning, and I want to always present my best work, so you can imagine my surprise when the first comment from the instructor was a question. What is your mission statement? I was here to learn strong fiction writing. A mission statement?
This was never something I considered for my writing. We have one in place for our ministry and for our conference, but a personal mission statement for my writing just never occurred to me.
It’s a nerve-racking moment when you’re put on the spot to answer a question you haven’t pondered. Amid other Christian writers, I wanted to be sure I had the spiritual aspect known, but that’s when the instructor threw me for a loop. It’s a given we are here because we want to write for God in some aspect. So, move beyond that and think deeper. There went my easy mission statement.
In fact, our homework was to devise our statement for the following week. I can’t lie, it wore on me the full hour and fifteen minutes it took me to drive home, but it was one of the best writing lessons I’ve learned in a long time.
What compiling a mission statement taught me:
*To be prayerful about the work I claim to give to God – It’s easy to be a Pharisee and proudly tell the world we write for God. The question is, do we really? Do we pray over every work and ask God’s guidance or even ask if the work we are doing is within His will? It was definitely food for thought. Learning to listen to the still soft voice that guides us, leads us to words that make the perfect impact.
*To focus my writing on a deeper personal level – Taking time to consider personal experience, more intense learning, and stepping up to the plate to improve my work. It’s easy to fall into a comfortable writing place, never challenging ourselves to take our writing to the next level. This needed to be included into my statement as a commitment to further my skills.
*To commit to producing work daily – This is a biggie. Life happens to us all, but life at its hardest is not an excuse to stop writing. Often, writers grow frustrated and feel life’s trials have grown too overwhelming. I recently spoke with a friend at a conference who’s penned over 40 books. As we talked about writing despite the things that happen, he told me how he turned out three best-selling books as he walked his mother through hospice and into heaven. “Writing during Mom’s illness, drew out emotion and words, even phrases, I didn’t know I had in me. To this day, those three books are still the most remembered of my works.” Valuable insight. Keep writing, despite . . .
*To set goals – I’ve never been a goal setter, or one who wrote my goals down, but the one time I attended a business conference and was asked to write down my personal goals, I learned something very surprising. My personal goals were not for the business at all, they were to be a writer. I went home, spoke with my director, let her know my focus would be on writing, and I would be stepping aside. And step aside I did. That spring, I attended my first writers’ conference. It took writing down my goals to not only visually see them, but to come to grips with what my heart’s desire truly was.
*To remind me of the race I am called to run – I can see now, writing a mission statement not only helps me focus, but it holds me accountable. Accountability is important for us in every aspect of our lives. Reading this statement daily continually reminds me of the race I run and strive to finish not only in my spiritual life and relationship with Christ, but also in my earthly life.
Who would have thought compiling a mission statement for my writing would be such an important facet to my career?
Take time to think through the real reasons you write. Be it to earn a living, share stories, or something you do as a sideline. Allow your statement to bring into focus the desires of your heart as a writer.
statement of my writing career is multi-faceted. First and foremost, I want to
be mindful of the gifts and pathway God has set in place for me. I pray I might
write words that impact the lives of others. I choose to place before the
Father every work I do, be it large or small, simple or complex, and that the goal
remains – to always be a glory to my God. I will have an attitude of
graciousness, a teachable spirit, and a heart to continue to strive to learn
and challenge myself to be the best I can be in my work – for God asks me to
present my best to Him. I commit to use my gifts daily, even when it is hard,
knowing that God refines me by the fires through which I may walk and that with
continued effort during trials and my dependence on Him, He will fully use me
to His glory. I pray He will bless my work. I am called to write, to daily seek
the words God has stored in my heart, and to continually strive to complete
each task and every story. And I understand that personal accolades are nice,
but what is most important is that the words of my mouth and the meditations of
my heart are acceptable to Him. By daily striving to meet the goals of this
statement, I will grow in creativity and in skill to produce excellent work,
through Him who gives me strength.
Write your mission statement. Make it personal. Make it a challenge to your spiritual life as well as your professional life, and then place it at the feet of Christ. You will be amazed at the ways you will grow as a writer.
(Photos courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net, Stuart Miles, and surasakiStock.)
Cindy K. Sproles is the cofounder of Christian Devotions Ministries and the director of the Asheville Christian Writers Conference (ACWC). She’s an author, popular speaker and teacher at conferences, and a writing mentor. Cindy serves as the Executive Editor of ChristianDevotions.us, Inspire-A-Fire.com, and is the Managing Editor for SonRise Books and Straight Street Books with LPB Books/Iron Stream Media. She is the author of Mercy’s Rain, Liar’s Winter, and What Momma Left behind. Visit Cindy at www.cindysproles.com.