How to Autograph a Book

sign book

How should you respond when you’re asked to autograph a book?

I guess you sign it, at least if you are the one who wrote the book. But as you do, you battle the temptation to pride. One way to do this is to remind yourself of a biblical truth that helps you keep perspective. A Christian author from the past signed a book this way.

Merrill Tenney was his name. He was a professor of New Testament and Greek, and author of several books. He was the general editor of the Zondervan Pictorial Bible Dictionary, and served on the original translation team for the New American Standard Bible.

Tenney was known for his love of Scripture, his knowledge of ancient history and languages, high academic standards, and his affection for students. He also pastored churches, and he maintained an extensive speaking schedule at churches, conferences and colleges while teaching.

One day, a student asked Dr. Tenney to autograph a book he had written. Reluctantly, Tenney signed the book. Later, the student found that, under his signature, Tenney had written a single Bible reference: Hebrews 10:38:

…my righteous one shall live by faith,
and if he shrinks back,
my soul has no pleasure in him.

The writer to the Hebrews quotes from Habakkuk 2:3-4. The Christian life demands faith, and that faith requires endurance. The stakes are high: if we shrink back, we’ll experience divine displeasure and miss out on God’s blessings.

What a verse for Tenney to include underneath his signature.

Walter Elwell and Robert Yarbrough write:

Was Tenney living under a shadow of fear? Did he fail to realize that God is love and that Christians have no need to be afraid of God’s judgment? On the contrary, he knew the fuller truth. Knowing the Lord does not mean lapsing into a sloppy self-confidence that encourages laxness and excuses disobedience. Rather, it means exercising diligent faith out of a fierce desire to please rather than dishonor Christ. Tenney, confident yet not complacent, had taken to heart the exhortation that the writer of Hebrews issues.

The stakes are high. We’re not done yet. It’s God’s assessment of our lives that matters most. The real test will be if we endure to the end.

Tenney understood that his academic record, book sales, and reputation were not ultimate. He could sign books, but the opinions of those who wanted his autograph wasn’t what drove him. He lived for a higher goal and purpose: to live by faith and endure to the end.

So build a ministry. Use your gifts. Bless others. As you do, realize you’ll probably receive recognition and acclaim from others. But don’t let that fool you. What you need most is a few of the ultimate purpose of your life: the commendation of God because you lived by faith and didn’t shrink back from following the One who saved you.

Then you can autograph all the books you want, and remember what matters most, and avoid the trap of caring too much about the approval of mere men and women.

Darryl Dash

Darryl Dash

I'm a grateful husband, father, oupa, and pastor of Grace Fellowship Church Don Mills. I love learning, writing, and encouraging. I'm on a lifelong quest to become a humble, gracious old man.
Toronto, Canada