Slicing Literary Tomatoes

Pastor Michael Duncan spoke about tomatoes at the March NCWA meeting!

I stood before the subject and took out the knife – you know the one – the “As Seen on T.V.” knife that cuts through a tin can as well as a soft, ripe tomato. Soon I realized that I don’t want my tomatoes cut like tin cans.

But the damage was done. Tomato seeds were scattered like casualties in a war by my amateurish application of the blade.  I learned a valuable lesson: to successfully cut tomatoes takes a sharp knife.

What does this have to do with writing?  Let me tell you…

“If the ax is dull and its edge unsharpened much strength is needed; but skill will bring success.” (Ecclesiastes 10:10).

Define Success

Success is precarious because it is often perched upon our own opinions.

Do not measure success by the standards of this world.  Bill O’Reilly sold over 1.5 million copies of Killing Lincoln. However, he connects to about 30 million people every week. That’s one in twenty.  How many people do you connect with—a thousand? One in twenty is selling fifty books. Who is more successful? It all depends on how you measure success.

God defines success this way: FAITHFULNESS.  Jesus said, “I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do” (John 17:4).  Paul writes, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have KEPT THE FAITH” (2 Timothy 4:7).


Sharpen the Blade

You sit at the computer and out flows this stream of prose like liquid crystal. When you’re done, you exhale a sigh of absolute contentment.  You are certain a Nobel Prize waits – until an editor gets hold of it.

There are three things you need to sharpen your blade:

  1. Education

You cannot expect to rise in your calling if you take no pains to educate yourself.  “Study to show yourself approved…” (2 Timothy 2:15)

  1. Encouragement

As iron sharpens iron…” (Proverbs 27:17) You need to connect with others who are willing to be a “friendly abrasive.”

  1. Experience

Experience is the best teacher.  There are efforts you can make which will help you gain experience along the way.  To paraphrase our LORD: “be faithful in the little things and I’ll give you more.” (Matthew 25:21)

Swing the Ax

During weapons training in the military, we heard the story of a man who got two steps of the process completed: “Ready… aim… aim…”  Finally, the instructor came to that man and said: “You will never hit the target if you don’t pull the trigger!”

There are many opportunities waiting for your step of faith.  It is not a step of faith unless you actually go beyond where you’re comfortable and do that which God has commissioned.  You need to run the risk.

“Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the grave, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.” (Ecclesiastes 9:10)

What is holding you back?


Christian author and pastor, Michael Duncan has served the Lord and the church for nearly 25 years preaching and teaching God’s Word. He has shared God’s message across the U.S. and beyond. He is currently the senior pastor of his church and a co-host on the Alive in Christ radio network as well as co-director of Christian Discipleship Ministries. He is on the executive board of the Northwest Baptist Convention. Michael has been a member of NCWA since 2008, and serves as a board member.  Michael is the author of Starting Out and Shadows. Click here for his website.   Given the opportunity, he may also be found on the golf course!


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