One of the jobs I’ve taken on in the last two years is that of a writing contest judge. It’s been a fun, challenging and personal growth type of assignment. When I first started judging entries, I found it was sometimes hard to walk that thin line between being constructive and being a bit too harsh. I found this particularly hard if I didn’t personally like the entry I was judging. But, still, I tried my best to point out the good and bad about each entry and most of my scores tended to be in the middle arena. I felt like I’d done a service to the authors in the contest.
However, when I received my scores back after my first year of judging, I was shocked to see that many authors felt I had been a bit too harsh in my comments. It made me take a step back and look over the entries I had submitted to see what the authors might be seeing. When the contest moderator gave me additional feedback (and a second chance), I did my best to listen to her (honest, yet a bit reprimanding) comments and I am now striving to do better with this year’s entries.
As an editor, it’s my job to give feedback in a constructive way. I never, ever want to deter anyone from writing with any harsh or out-of-line comments. Their feedback highlighted a bit of editorial flaws that I had to work on. It’s one of the reasons I signed back up to be a judge again this year.
You see, I’ve found that editing people’s words can be a rewarding process for both me and for my authors. I really only want to hone a writer’s words in a way that can be pleasing for the reader and profitable for the author. But if I speak a harsh word or truly JUDGE someone’s work in a way that isn’t constructive to the writer, how can either of us come together in a way that is cohesive?
As I continue my Bible study to work on my non fiction book, I’ve found numerous verses about taming the tongue and offering graceful words to our fellow man. Here are just a few:
Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. Colossians 4:6
A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. Proverbs 15:1
(PS – Proverbs has MANY verses about the tongue. A good place to start instruction for this problem.)
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. Ephesians 4:29
And, finally, a word from the Book of James that gives me hope:
Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. We all stumble in many ways. James 3:1-2
You see, we all stumble. I stumbled. I’m far from perfect. But it is the daily taking up of our imperfections to try and strive for what God wants from us – to be more like Him each and every day. Will we ever succeed? No. Being perfect is an unattainable goal – only God is perfect. But if we strive to learn and grow from our mistakes, we can show the world what it means to be a God-fearing Christian who is seeking to exhibit the fruits of the spirit.
God bless and have a very blessed weekend.
If you’re interested in learning about the writing contest, click here.