Tuesday, January 5, 2010

But It's Not Fair!

This past Sunday, my pastor started his sermon by reading us the parable of the workers in the vineyard (Matthew 20:1-16). I'm very familiar with the story, but a funny thing happened this time around. As we were reading, I thought of it in a totally different way--a way that's very applicable to my state of mind of late. And then the pastor gave the same application in his sermon that I was thinking!

To refresh your memory, the parable is about a man who starts in the morning employing workers for his field. They agree on a day's wages and everyone is happy. But then in the afternoon, he employs some more folks and at the end of the day, pays them the same as the poor slobs who've been slaving away all day. So the first workers, who started out happy and thinking how generous their master was, degenerated into grumbling and complaining and feeling sorry for themselves. The master pointed out that they had been happy until they compared themselves to others. That he had given them a good deal, and that they shouldn't complain just because he wanted to be generous to the late-comers.

Of course, Jesus applies this to the Kingdom of Heaven. He demonstrates that all of us reach the Kingdom through his generosity, and that if someone accepts his gift at the end of their lives or late in the day, they'll attain it just the same as those who have been serving Him their whole lives.

That's the way I've always thought of that parable. The sermons I've heard about it took that approach.

But last Sunday, as I read, I thought about my grumbling and complaining about my so-called writing career. After writing and trying to publish for over 30 years, I have a hard time hearing about others who manage it almost immediately. (Lately I'm even jealous of people who have ONLY been at it for 10 or 15 years!)

I admit it, my attitude is lousy. I don't necessarily get jealous of people with nicer cars or houses or better-paying jobs. But show me a newbie writer with a publishing contract and I go into instant whining mode.

Even worse, some of those newbie folks write a lot better than I do! Talk about adding insult to injury. Why is it taking me so long to accomplish what they've picked up with hardly any work at all? (Add whimper here.)

Picture my surprise when the pastor made the same application to this story, pointing out our tendency to look at others' lives and rewards and engage in a pity party, rather than being grateful for God's generosity.

The parable doesn't explain why some folks have to work longer than others for the same reward. It just focuses on how generous the master was to EVERYONE that he employed, without exception.

My pastor urged us to make a fresh start in 2010. I'm game. Do I have any company out there? (Although come to think of it, most of you previously-unpublished writers who have been reading my blog over the months now have publishing contracts. But I love you anyway. You just might want to invest in earplugs to dampen the sound of the whining.)


  1. I totally understand how you feel, Robin.

    Keep praying, keep persevering, asking God what it is you need to work on. I've often said that the road to publication is filled with humiliation--rejections, contest judges who insult you and tell you your writing stinks, people getting contracts who haven't been writing nearly as long as you have--but really, those things won't humble you, they sometimes just make you feel more prideful as you defend yourself, at least in your own thoughts. But I really started concentrating on getting rid of pride several months ago, and it has made a lot of difference in my attitude.

    I did a lot of crying in the last several months, too! And crying out. Crying out to God is a good way to get rid of stuff in your heart that you don't want there! At least, it seemed to help me. I decided if I was going to be published, I didn't want ugly stuff in my heart, like pride, so I worked on that. And Beth Moore studies help, too! :-)

    Truly, I do know how you feel. Another thing I decided was that if I was going to be published--and I was sure I was! I always believed--then I wanted to be able to be happy for people who got published, not jealous, so I wouldn't feel like people weren't really happy for me when I got published. Sounds really selfish, but that was part of my motivation. And I really was happy for those people who got published before me. It feels really good to rejoice with those who rejoice, to put your own ambitions aside and just feel happy for your friend. It can be hard to do though. I totally get that.

  2. Robin, I'd never applied that parable to my writing, but boy, does it fit!! I think there's a lot of us in the same boat. I'm a little different because I've been able to be right alongside Christina and her success, so I just stand close enough to feel like a little of it is rubbing off on me!!

    I used to feel envious of people who got published, especially when their books were full of things that I'd learned at writing conferences not to do! That really irked me!! Buyt I think I have truely learned to deeply rejoice for everyone that gives published. Will I ever? I believe so, especially now that Wendy is our agent!! But I still have a LOT of work to do.

    Maybe this will be a great year, writing-wise, for all of us!!

  3. Man, I just read over my comment above, and noticed all the typos!! Could that be one of the reasons I'm not published yet??!!

  4. I have been noticing that about myself lately. My list woes seem to multiply. After talking to mom and hearing the sermon in church last week,I came to the conclusion that I need to change my attitude. Instead of asking why me? I should be saying thank you! It's amazing how much better I feel. It is true that there are things that are hard right now, and I haven't gotten my way. However, there are so many reasons to praise God. Even if nothing goes my way He is still AWESOME!