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Follow the Leader

I learned a very important lesson in the first grade–if you’re going to lead people, you better know what you’re doing.

My sister is 19 months younger than me–two grade levels. So, naturally, she looked up to the big first grader that I was. One day, we were in the garage, playing, while my dad worked on the car. Somehow, I convinced my sister that an old tomato wire was a “Chinese trap”. (What’s a Chinese trap? I don’t know, I was six.)

My sister climbed in, pretending to be trapped. Only…she really was.

When we tried to get her free, she was stuck. Her arms were pinned tightly to her side by the middle wire. The wire cage tapered down to lock her legs together. Her hair got all tangled in the top of the wire.

We hollered for our dad, who told us to hold on a second. Being 6 and 4, we weren’t really full of patience. After a few minutes (which was probably only a minute), I took my sister’s fingers and instructed her to hop over to our dad so he could see the problem.

Hop. Hop. Hop.

Whooosh! Splat!

That’s right. Somehow, she slipped on the smooth carport (really, who knows how?). She fell face first into the concrete. Remember, her arms and legs are pinned, so she has no way to catch herself or slow down her fall.

There was a moment or two of dazed silence. Then screaming. Lots of screaming.

Followed by yelling. Lots of yelling. Mom and Dad both came rushing from wherever they had been. They hauled my sister inside, inspected her broken glasses (did I forget to mention those?), applied ice, and finally settled on hurrying to the ER.

When Mom brought my sister home a few hours later, she looked horrible! She had two black eyes, a yellow nose, and a huge goose egg right in the middle of her forehead. (We have a picture somewhere, but I’m sure she’d never let me post it.)

Although the lesson may not have been realized at the time, on reflection I can see lots of wisdom for leaders to know what they’re doing–or at least, know who to go to when you don’t.

Now, years later, I’m faced with a similar situation. I write speculative fiction for the Christian market. My desire is to reveal God’s most awesome power, that nothing is beyond Him, that no one is beyond redemption. And how do I choose to portray it? With angels and demons, elves and warlocks, nephilim, and whatever mysterious creatures my mind creates.

There’s a freedom in this kind of writing–letting your mind go, getting creative, stretching to the limits. But there’s also a danger.

When I’m writing something of Kingdom value (at least I hope it would be), it is my responsibility to make sure that it follows a Biblical worldview. Sure, there’s some play because it is ficition, but I can’t change something that is Biblically correct. There’s the obvious stuff like demons can’t be good. Redemption has to be offered to all who seek it.

The one that I’m learning with Dividing Spirits is that you have to be careful to call a spade a spade, and not pass it off as a diamond. What does that mean? There are many religions in this world that share some similar values/basic beliefs as Christianity. If I pass something off as “Christian” that is not, even by accident, I risk causing a fellow Christian to stumble or possibly misrepresenting to a non-Christian.

Jesus warns us about this more than once!

Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to stumble! Such things must come, but woe to the person through whom they come! (Matt 18:7)

“If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them if a large millstone were hung around their neck and they were thrown into the sea.” (Mark 9:42)

Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God— (1 Cor 10:32)

When I sit down at my computer to crank out my next few words, I must make sure I am right with the Lord. That the words that I am writing to affect the people who read it are edifying, that they offer no stumbling block.

Does anyone else think that’s a lot of pressure sometimes? It’s a good thing this is God’s calling for my life, I know He’s the one in the pilot seat. If I stay in His will, He won’t let me stumble, and in turn, cause someone else to stumble.

Did I mention He blessed me with wise critique partners who aren’t afraid to tell me the truth? God bless you, ladies!


About Ralene Burke

Whether she’s wielding a fantasy writer’s pen, a freelance editor’s sword, or a social media wand, Ralene Burke always has her head in some dreamer’s world. And her goal is to make it SHINE! She has worked for a variety of groups, including Realm Makers, The Christian PEN, Kentucky Christian Writers Conference, and as an editor for a number of freelance clients. Her first novel, Bellanok, is being published as a 4-part serial! When her head’s not in the publishing world, she is wife to a veteran and homeschooling mama to their three kids. Her Pinterest board would have you believe she is a master chef, excellent seamstress, and all around crafty diva. If she only had the time . . .

One comment on “Follow the Leader

  1. […] yesterday on New Authors’ Fellowship, I share with the readers the downfall of a leader that doesn’t know what they’re […]

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