I’ve read a couple blog posts recently that left me both
heartened and a little sad—heartened because it was refreshing to see industry
professionals addressing these issues, and sad because the posts were proof positive
the issues exist.

First, literary agent and author, Linda Glaz addressed the
issue of how authors should respond to negative reviews. (http://lindaglaz.blogspot.com/2015/02/answering-bad-review-with-bad-words.html)
We’ve all seen the profane rants and rampages on which some embark. It’s not
only unbecoming, it’s unprofessional. Spewing profanity in a rage accomplishes
nothing positive. The publishing world is small. Industry professionals are
watching, readers are watching, and no one wants to support bad behaviour. Ms.
Glaz said it beautifully:

Folks, don’t burn any bridges in this industry. It
isn’t worth it. IF you respond to a bad review at all, simply thank the person
for taking the time to read your work…

Next I read a wonderful post by literary agent Rachel Kent (http://www.booksandsuch.com/blog/keeping-c-cba/).
I think Ms. Kent might have been inside my head when she wrote that post. 🙂 I
wish I could say everything in it was foreign, but alas, I’ve seen or
experienced it all. And it’s terrible, especially coming from Christians. We
are supposed to be above the world. Integrity, honesty, charity; these things
should be so commonplace as to be almost cliché, not so remote that we have to
write blog posts to remind people to keep the Christ(ian) in CBA. As Ms. Kent
so eloquently said:

Situations like
these should not exist in Christian publishing. We can’t change the way other
people work, and we can’t change that we are faulty humans, but I hope all of
you will join me in working hard to honor God through the work we do. Are you with me?

I’m with you! 
And
I see a light at the end of the tunnel—a solution. All we have to do is take a breath, a moment to check our motives, before we act or react.
Every one of these issues exists because people get caught up in a worldly
pursuit. It isn’t difficult to do; we’re human, after all. But we are
intelligent beings, and we can take a breath before we launch headlong into something
we shouldn’t do. 
Before we post a foul rebuttal to a negative review, pause.
Ask: Why do I want to post this? The answer probably will be PRIDE. Our feelings are
hurt by the negative review, or we feel the negative review harms our
reputation and we have to defend that—vehemently, or both. It’s pride
nonetheless. But, we’re not supposed to feed our egos. We know that one negative
review is not where our worth lies. We know that one person’s opinion does not
mean our work is inferior. We know reading is subjective, and we know that our
worth comes from the immutable fact that God loves us, regardless of whether
one person or a million people hate our book. So, if we just take a breath
before rebutting and remember that the bad
review means absolutely nothing in the grand scheme of things, we won’t respond with anger and hurt and profanity. (Jesus had countless negative reviews, yet He neither took the
time to defend Himself nor missed a step in completing his mission in all
righteousness.)
Before we renege on a contract and/or turn in work we know
is shoddy, simply because there’s a better offer on the table, we need to take
a breath. Pause. Ask: Why do I want to go back on my word? The probable answer will be
worldly AMBITION. We should strive to please God. That is the only worthy
ambition there is. But does going back on our word bring us closer to God? Of
course not. In actuality, it pulls us further from God. We can take Jesus’ example to heart. He didn’t take a better offer when He got one (how easier would it
have been to give in to temptation than to hang on the cross?) He completed His
assignment and suffered and died so that you and I might have eternal life. Do
we really think that if we live a life filled with integrity, our faithfulness will
return void? That the better offer will disappear never to return (or that there can even be a “better offer” than the one Jesus extends). Or do we know as
Christians that if we fulfill all righteousness, He will make sure to provide
everything we need?

So, before we go back on our word (even if keeping our word
hurts for the moment), we should take a breath and remember that money, the
praise of man and worldly status mean nothing. For “What profit is there for
one to gain the whole world yet lose or forfeit himself?” [Luke 9:25]  What
matters is living life with honesty and integrity as He instructs. (Whoever
walks in integrity walks securely, but whoever takes crooked paths will be
found out.[Proverbs 10:9])

Likewise, if we’re considering instructing someone else to
break a contract, that too is ambition; only, in tacitly urging someone else to
wrongdoing, we fall into an even greater pit. (cf. Matthew 18:6). So, before we
do that, we should stop. Take a breath. Ask: Why am I advising this? The answer
will be AMBITION or perhaps PRIDE or FEAR. We want to be the agent who gets lands the
biggest deal for our client—maybe for our client’s benefit, maybe for our own
ego or fear of failure, maybe a little of both. But if we take a moment to realize that God
honours righteousness and humility, we’ll know the right path to take.

In either of these cases, it isn’t wrong to want to get the
best deal; but it is wrong to do so at the expense of someone else…and deep
down, if we’re striving at all to live an authentic Christian life, we know
that the end never justifies the means. Sometimes, it just takes a breath to remember.

Do I need to address the “take a breath” that’s attached to
bad-mouthing a person or company with malicious intent? We know that
deliberately trying to harm someone’s reputation is wrong, don’t we? If not,
then we need to take a breath and ask: Why am I saying horrible things about
this person/company? The answer will be PRIDE and perhaps FEAR that cause us to
bad-mouth another unjustly—especially if those words are exaggerations or lies. I classify this “with malicious intent” and “unjustly”
because there may be a “just” occasion to warn a person from someone else who
is confirmed to be harmful. But even then, we should take a moment to check our motives. Are we truly warning someone out of charity, or are we really just attempting to manipulate in order to feed our own ego or to keep a foothold on a worldly
position? The minutiae matter. At any rate, if we take a moment, give the Holy
Spirit time to prick the conscience before
we make the misstep, we’ll be all the better for it, and so will the world.
So there you have it. The way to eliminate all these
negative tendencies from the world of Christian publishing: Before you act or
react, take a breath and ask yourself why…and then remember Romans 6:7-10 (emphasis mine). The correct action will present itself.

Make no mistake: God is not mocked, for a person will reap
only what he sows, because the one who sows for his flesh will reap corruption
from the flesh, but the one who sows for the spirit will reap eternal life from
the spirit. Let us not grow tired of doing good, for in due time we shall reap
our harvest, if we do not give up. So then, while we have the opportunity, let
us do good to all, but especially to those who belong to the family of the
faith.

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