On Why I Write
I first started this website back in January of 2012 as a New Year’s resolution. Since then, I have made it my aim to write at least one article per month, which I have only missed once in the past three years. In addition to these articles (which now total over 140), I have spent time writing a short e-book on Manhood and am currently working on another project to help those who self-injure. I also have about 5-6 other book ideas that I’ve filed away and began to organize and set up to work on in the future.
My decision to make writing a significant part of my life was not taken lightly. It came about after much thinking, prayer, and counsel. I thought that it might be helpful to clarify a little what it is I’m trying to do and why I’m trying to do it.
In a recent Ask Pastor John podcast, John Piper addressed the issue of why a pastor should or should not write. He was aiming to answer the question, How do I know if I am called by God to write? I found that his answer hit home, so I’d like to use his response as a way to frame my own.
He defined a call from God to write like this:
It is a recurrent, long term, compelling, benevolent, Christ-exalting desire to write which proves fruitful in the lives of others.
Let’s take these points one at a time.
It is recurrent
A divine call to write is recurrent, meaning that is does not go away. It is not a desire to pick up the pen once, and then not bother with it anymore. The desire is recurrent, not temporary. It simply will not let you alone!
I have found that this has been true for me (thus far). I started in 2012 after feeling like it was something I wanted and ought to do for several years prior. I finally determined to make it happen, and ever since the desire has only grown.
It is long-term
Good writing doesn’t happen overnight. It takes commitment and effort. A writer with a divine calling on their life is in it for the long haul. They don’t take it up as a hobby for a while and then quit. Rather, it becomes the kind of burning desire that is unshakeable and unquenchable. In other words, a true calling from God to write is not temporary. It continues on, even after seasons of writers-block and unsuccessful endeavours.
Perhaps I am still too early into this thing to know for sure, but as of right now I can say that my desire to write feels long-term. My passion is not waning, it is growing. And I have found that my hope is not to write for a while until it gets boring, but to write for life. I hope that if God wills for me to live a long time, I will have a large body of work behind me that will be useful and effective for others.
It is compelling
The way John Piper describes a “compelling” call to write is that it is not merely an “interesting” hobby. A call from God to write is not a side-project, but rather something that is close to who a person is. The desire to write is compelling in a way that makes the craft elevate in importance, beyond that of a mere hobby for free time. The divine call leads the writer to carve out time in their schedule to write, to get up early, to make notes, to draft and re-draft, to keep at it until the job is done right. There is a kind of passion and desire that makes it a priority, perhaps even at the sacrifice of leisure time. I have seen these kinds of things in my life more and more as time goes on.
It is benevolent
A call from God to write is inherently fuelled by the right motives. The difference between a secular writer and a Christian writer is that the Christian writer is aiming to make a difference rather than simply making a point. He is desiring to bring the reader closer to God, not just to entertain them. There is a moral element to their writing that is God-fearing and God-driven.
I admit that it is hard to know my own heart and therefore my true motives for writing. I do believe that my honest desire is to share the gospel with others and help them to read and understand the Bible. Even when I started writing, my aim was to use it mainly as an extension of my pastoring and teaching ministry. I see it as another way to shepherd the people of my church and youth group, while presenting the possibility that the content might be useful for others. Still, my main audience has always been the people I know in real life. I feel that my writing is one means that God can use me, in addition to the ministry I do in more personal settings.
It is Christ-exalting
Writing that is truly of God will glorify Christ. God does not move people to write for their own fame or self-esteem. He moves them to put Jesus on a pedestal and get themselves out of the way. This is certainly a work of the Holy Spirit, and therefore a strong indicator that a desire to write is of God and not of man.
While I know that I can struggle with pride issues, I really do want my writing to be for Christ and his glory. I don’t want to become famous or put forth a false front. To illustrate this, I remember when I first started this website, I sat literally for hours trying to come up with a good name for it, because I was desperate not to use my own name for the URL. I tried countless names, but they were either taken by other writers, way too long, or borderline ridiculous. Eventually my creativity ran out and I used my own name. To this day, I’m still not thrilled about having a website with my name on it. Who the heck am I that I need my own website? It feels absurd, and it probably is. Nevertheless, I’m trusting that in my content and tone it becomes clear that my aim is not to exalt myself but to exalt Christ.
This also is why I often avoid the term “blog”. I don’t really consider myself a blogger in the traditional sense. Honestly, I’m quite tired of the number of online bloggers. The internet has given license to virtually anyone to write and share their opinions, wether they are really qualified to or not. What makes me any different? It’s a tough question, but I hope that my thoughtfulness and precision help others to see that I’m not just another writer who thinks they know everything. Also, again, I try to link my writing to my calling as a “professional” minister, so I hope that I’m not lumping myself in with all those who are just narcissists with an internet connection. I rarely use my writing to address cultural issues or write opinion pieces, and this is intentional. I want my focus to be on devotional material, leadership training, apologetics, Biblical theology, and the like. I plan to stick mainly on this trajectory into the future as well. As I sometimes say, “Who cares what I think? Care about what the Bible says!”
It is fruitful in the lives of others
Lastly, if a desire to write is a truly divine call, then there will be some evidence of God using it in the lives of others. No one can really do anything for God with their writing unless the power of the Holy Spirit is backing it. Thankfully, I have had people send me messages or tell me in person that something I wrote was helpful or inspiring or enlightening to them. I’ve had a few individuals tell me they think I am called to write. I try not to take my own press too seriously, but I do also consider these to be confirmations from God that I am pursuing a true call from him. I hope that I can continue to use this medium to build his Kingdom and be a faithful steward until God decides my time is up, either as a writer or in life.
Until then, please pray for me, that I might stay humble and write for Christ with pure intentions, and also that God might use my writing to make a difference in the lives of others!