It’s crazy to think that I started this blog the summer of my senior year in high school–more than five years ago! 42 posts later, I’m still slowly chugging along. I’ve had long dry spells throughout the life of this blog in which I posted infrequently or not at all. A big reason for that inconsistency was I wasn’t sure what priority I should place on writing. My posts run on the long side, and long posts take time and energy. With so many good things worthy of my time and energy, why spend it on writing?
Here are a few thoughts on why I’ve decided it’s worthwhile to write in a public forum (aka blog). Who knows, maybe this will convince some of you blog fence-sitters to take the plunge? One can hope…
Writing as Ministry
How has God gifted me? What do I enjoy doing? How can I build up the body of Christ? How can I reach out to others? Where is there a need?
Those are questions we ask ourselves as we seek to find where God wants us to minister in the church. For me, I think writing can be one of those ways of ministering to others. I know I still have a long ways to go as a writer, but I do think it’s an area where God has given me ability and interest. English was always my favorite subject in school and was my major in college. I’m always thinking about random stuff and trying to explain things that don’t make sense to me, which is a natural fit to be expressed through writing.
I think writing has unique opportunities for both inreach and outreach. My blog is a reflection of what I’m thinking and feeling in the ups and downs of my Christian life, as well as God’s faithfulness through it all. My hope is that by sharing openly and honestly, yet still thoughtfully and hopefully, I can resonate with both believers and nonbelievers. I can give a voice to discouraged brothers and sisters and articulate questions and struggles that might otherwise go unsaid. At the same time, I can show my unbelieving friends that there are Christians who struggle in very human ways, yet still think well and have strong faith.
I’ve often envied other people’s ministry gifts. People who can preach well, or counsel powerfully, or administrate and lead in a way that others joyfully follow them. I’m realizing more and more I’m limited in all of those areas and that’s okay. John Newton admitted his letters, and not his preaching, were oddly his most effective ministry (and man, if you haven’t read Newton’s letters, you should check them out). God will raise up gifted administrators, preachers, counselors, and leaders. Perhaps he is calling me to expand his kingdom rule to a path less traveled, and perhaps my writing can play a part.
Writing to Redeem Social Media
I don’t post much on social media. That doesn’t mean I’m somehow more humble or godly. Quite the opposite, actually. I’m a consumer on social media. I refrain from posting partly because I don’t have anything interesting to say and partly for fear of putting myself out there and not being noticed. Instead, I use Facebook and other social media mostly to relieve my boredom with updates from my friend’s lives. My social media usage is ultimately selfish–I take what other people post for my own entertainment and contribute nothing worthwhile in return.
Recently, I began posting the link to new blog posts on my Facebook page. Prior to that, I had refrained for a number of reasons, some good, some bad. On the one hand, I was afraid of writing to gain the applause of people–I know my heart is so prone to finding joy in those ego-satisfying red notifications. On the other hand, I was afraid of having others read about and see my weakness. It’s okay for close friends to read, but it’s different when it’s out in the open for everyone. I was also afraid of being misunderstood–”Look at that guy who posts his writing on facebook, who does he think he is?” We all have those thoughts from time to time, and I didn’t want to be thought of as ‘that guy’.
Ultimately, I decided to start sharing the links again because I felt like the benefits outweighed the risks (although I know I need to constantly examine my heart motives!). God calls us to extend his kingdom reign to every sphere of life for his glory. The sphere of social media, for better or for worse, plays a huge role in our lives. In my experience, however, it’s an area relatively untouched by Christian influence. I see lots of playful joking and pictures of fun experiences and good food and NBA Basketball memes. That’s all good. I also see lots of cringe-worthy stories in my Facebook News sidebar and cringe-worthy rants from Christian and non-Christian friends. That’s not so good.
But how cool would it be if social media could be a place where Christian share what they’ve been learning and thinking about, how God has been faithful to them, or even how they’ve been struggling and trying to hold on to God’s goodness? What if our faith, with all its beauty and warts, was on display for the world to see? I think blogging can be a way to do that.
Writing for Understanding by Faith
As a principle, I try not to sugarcoat or simplify in my writing; rather, I try to share my struggles as they really are and to express questions and tensions in their most potent form–that is, the way I feel them myself.
That can be a scary prospect. I often feel that certain struggles should go unshared and certain questions unasked, because what if I can’t find the solution? What if there is no solution? Better to file doubts and discouragement into the cabinet in the back of my mind. It’s scary also because there aren’t always easy answers. Oftentimes when I write, I don’t write because I’ve figured out the answer; I’m figuring out the answer as I write. I’m afraid of being a hypocrite and portraying myself as more sure and more okay than I actually am. I’m afraid that, in being honest, I might slowly collapse for the world to see.
Writing publicly for me is an act of faith. It is me saying, “I’m not afraid of doubt or despair, but I trust that with my Lord’s help I can confront them head on. I can’t always see the outcome, even when I’m writing, but I trust that he will bring understanding, he will keep me through every season, and he will use my weakness for his glory. And because of that I can blog.”
Those are a couple of reasons why I choose to blog. How about you?
For those of you interested in reading more about writing as a Christian, here are a couple of fun Piper interviews and articles about his thoughts on writing:
“And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.” (1 John 1:4 ESV)