I had a professor in college who was well loved and well respected by nearly everyone on campus. I went to a small college–only 1200 students in attendance–but the respect and affection that others had for this man was certainly deserved. He was an excellent teacher and a man full of wisdom–with a head of wavy silver hair to match. In his 50 years of serving Christ, he had pastored several churches and taught college level classes ranging from theological systems to the book of Romans. For me, sitting under this man was a time of great spiritual blessing.
Shortly after his death, however, I learned that this great man never wrote a book. He had taught thousands of people and the effects of his faithful teaching will ripple far into eternity, but he never wrote a book. His reason? “So many great books have already been written, what could I add?” I would expect this response from such a humble and godly man, but it caused me to wonder for a long time after that if I my desire to write was, in fact, not useful.
Fortunately, I have come to the conclusion with the help of friends and some helpful books that writing is not only useful, but essential–especially for the Christian community. I fear that many men and women, to whom God has given the gift of writing, hide their gift and refuse to open it because they are afraid that they have nothing to add and offer. Perhaps many Christians today use the following line of reasoning: “There are so many great books and writers out there today, why would I write? People should just read the other great writers.” This response is not altogether wrong; it is humble and wise to recognize the work of others and defer to their talents–especially those whose work has stood the test of time. But there are many excellent reasons why those who are gifted in writing should exercise this gift. Here are a few:
(1) Some people will read what you write before they read other writers. Although there are great books, articles, and blogs written by some wonderfully gifted and capable men and women, people in your primary circle of influence will probably read your writing (because they know you) before they read someone else’s writing. Therefore, take this opportunity to teach, help, encourage, and instruct them.
(2) Writing can greatly benefit others. While it is important to examine your motives as to why you want to write and repent of prideful desires, it is equally important to pursue the right reasons for writing; namely, the glory of God and the good of others. Contrary to what many believe today, our gifts and talents were given to us in order to benefit others, not to enable us to indulge our egos and seek fame. Believe it or not, by God’s Spirit and grace, your writing has the capacity to encourage believers, provide insight, open eyes, convict of sin, save sinners, teach Scripture, enlarge vision, spark motivation for obedience, relieve pain, just to name a few! Why wouldn’t we take the opportunity to do such good?
(3) The truth, in large measure, is preserved and transmitted through writing. Hence, the reason why God, in His wisdom, chose to put His revelation in a book. Writing is fixed, it can be read and referred to repeatedly, and it is available to a very large audience. Look around you: how much knowledge is communicated through writing? Just a glance around your home or school attests to the fact that writing is one of the primary ways in which knowledge is communicated. Consider the ways that you can herald and preserve the truth through writing. Imagine the ways in which you can be the salt of the earth by writing truth! Think of the impact you can have for Christ and His kingdom through writing!
(4) Writing helps you to think clearly. One of the main reasons I keep a journal is so that I can train myself to think well. Writing helps me to think clearly, connectedly and carefully. It forces me to put my thoughts in logical order. And the beauty of this is that while you are seeking to edify and encourage others with your writing, you are actually training your mind to think more clearly, which enables you to serve others better with your writing. How? Because as you think more clearly, your writing becomes more clear and easy to understand. It is a wonderful cycle.
What should I write?
Blogs, articles for the local newspaper or your school newspaper, essays for your church newsletters; there are all kinds of options.
What should I write about?
Thoughts on Scripture, the Christian life, theology, and ministry. You can also write book reviews, movie reviews, thoughts on a Biblical engagement of culture, helpful and encouraging stories that illustrate Biblical truth. There are many ways you can glorify God and help others with writing. So write. If you think that God has blessed you with the ability to communicate truth through writing, then, by all means, bless us with your writing! Even if you do not think that you are a good writer, I would still encourage you to write. Maybe not for public reading at first, but in a personal journal so that you can grow in your ability to write. You will be amazed at how much you will improve in your writing if you just practice. Writing is a wonderful gift; make good use of it.
Photo: Sergey Zolkin