Have you ever had an area in your life where you thought you had no ability, but then took a risk and tried your hand at it only to discover you could in fact do what you thought you could not? That would be me with writing. I thought most of my young adult life that of all the things I did for the glory of God, writing would not be one. Speaking, sure. Even singing, back in the day. Sharing the gospel, of course. But writing? Nope. Not this guy.
Then one day a professor graded a paper in an elective class in seminary. He wrote on the back page, “You should keep writing, because you are a great writer.” No one had ever told me that.
I do not think I am a “great” writer. But that little encouragement gave me just enough momentum to try my hand at writing for publication. I signed up for a little writer’s conference after that where I learned a few practical tips on getting published. Then I wrote.
And strangely enough, I got published. I started writing articles, book reviews, anything I could. I wrote for a senior adult magazine, a family magazine, sent sermon illustrations to a preaching magazine, anything and everything I could.
Over the years from then until now I have had the honor of writing a lot of things in a lot of venues: books, ebooks, journal articles, blogs, reviews, etc. I recently began something I have never done: a regular news column in our weekly newspaper The Wake Weekly. I actually write an article every other week.
If you are a student and are sick and tired of all the writing your depraved professors require of you, remember this: one day you may have an opportunity to touch your local community through writing. So write well. Learn as you write. No, the academic research paper you write does not reflect the same style that will do for a local weekly, but some things overlap, like using strong verbs, decent grammar, etc.
Further, many of you will in fact write regularly for something at your church—a newsletter article, a blog at your website, etc. Please learn some elementary grammatical rules so as not to embarrass yourself (or your alma mater, your spouse, etc) when you write. Have someone proofread your materials. But do not be afraid of failure on the one hand or the illusion of perfection on the other keep you from risking to write. And if you still hesitate to write, check out this to encourage you.
Above all else, write. Look for opportunities. Seek to use the power of the pen for the glory of God. Someone is going to be writing the articles, filling the space, captivating the attention of others. Why not you, and why not for the sake of the gospel? One of the things I hope of my students is that they will write well in communities here and abroad as they have opportunity.
The little column I write allows me the opportunity to speak about Christ. I am a professor at a local seminary and on staff at a local church, so it would be a little weird if I did not. At the same time, I seek in writing this to be as wise as a serpent and innocent as a dove, writing in a way that hopefully interests the general readership while also bringing glory to King Jesus. It can be a bit delicate, but is really not that hard if you spend time in the community with the people to whom you write. Knowing your audience matters whether you preach, teach a class, engage in a personal conversation, or write a column.
I encourage you to seek opportunities online, in local papers, through any outlet you can find to speak up and speak out for Christ. It will shape you, and will push you to grow.