“Jon, writing isn’t your strong suit.”

My English professor’s words rang in my ears. I was three weeks into her class with three grades on the weekly two-page papers: C+, D, and F. Three papers, each of them with regressively worse grades. It was the first “F” I’d ever received.

Who says you can't - writetojoncook Jon Cook

I didn’t care. I hated English. It was my least favorite subject throughout middle school and high school. When she said those words, “Jon, writing isn’t your strong suit,” my immediate reaction was indifference. Who cares? Who are you to tell me what I’m good or not good at? My end reaction was defiance: I’ll show you.

I was so upset that I worked twice as hard to improve my writing in her class. She didn’t really like any of my writing that entire semester and I finished with a C+ in her class. My whole goal was to prove her wrong. My intentions were wrong, but I improved.

I took a literature class a few semester later, and that’s where I fell in love with writing. It’s because my literature professor told me, “Jon, you have an amazing imagination. Now, let’s put it on paper.” It took someone who saw what could be, instead of what currently is, to call out potential for the future.

We live in a world of write-off’s:

  • “They’re currently failing. They probably won’t survive the program.”
  • “She’s struggling to make ends meet. She’ll never be good with finances.”
  • “He’s not learning as fast as we want him to learn. He’ll never be a somebody.”
  • “They’re taking a break from attending. We’ll never see them again.”

None of these voices are God’s. They don’t know everything, and they certainly don’t know the future. These are the same types of voices who said, “Jon, writing isn’t your strong suit.” God had other plans.

I’m now writing three to four hours a day as a full-time writer. It’s not because I’m still trying to prove that one professor wrong. In the rare times that memory does cross my mind, I just have to laugh because God has a sense of humor and there’s no way I’d be where I am without God’s help.

You may be hearing these voices echo pessimism and predictions of your failure. Take it in context. Listen for God’s voice speaking through or in spite of those voices. They could be right, which is why you shouldn’t just write them off. It’s likely they’re wrong for one reason: they don’t know the future.

Ignore the nay-sayers, whack-a-dreamers, and Debbie Downers. They don’t know the future. Listen for those who can see what could be instead of just what is today. Wise mentors can call out greatness in your future for you to pursue in the present.

Most importantly, your goal should never be to prove your critics wrong; it should be to prove your Creator right.