Christian writers, like any others, submit their work to trusted colleagues for review and criticism. Fiction writers have critique groups while nonfiction writers (especially in the academic world) have peer reviewers. We hope their vetting will help us communicate more effectively with our readers.

But to what extent should we seek personal affirmation in the critique process? To what extent is it not about polishing the manuscript but polishing (and encouraging) us personally?

We may tell ourselves that we don’t care. We may even think that Christian humility requires us to remain indifferent to the appraisal of others. But we do care, don’t we?

Some of us are just anxious to please, while some want to project a suitable image to our professional community. Neither motive brings any clarity to our vocation–obscures it, in fact.

But fellow writers can help us identify the strengths and weaknesses we bring to the task, and advise us how to apply our gifts to it. Empty praise benefits no writer, Christian or otherwise, but a discerning appraisal can encourage us to continue our apprenticeship despite the disappointments.

Lord, help me to affirm my writing partners regardless of what I think of their “work in progress.” Remind me that each of us is Your work in progress.