Why Write?

If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there, does the tree make a noise? If a pastor writes an article and sends it into the expanse of the internet, do the words have any impact?

Admittedly writing and the conversations about writing have felt a little bit like narcissistic navel-gazing. For sure I don’t want my writing to be without readers, or even worse, without sense. But I don’t always believe I have so much to say.

So, why write? Why attempt to put words to a page and ask you to consider my thinking and maybe even maybe hope that it makes an impact? That’s a very good question.

A few weeks ago the writing ministry that I lead, Gospel-Centered Discipleship (GCD), took eleven developing writers into a six-month workshop/masterclass to help them level up and grow in the craft of writing. Our first guest mentor, Jen Oshman, was tasked with speaking into the question above, why write? Her instruction to us as writers was to develop a mission statement. Simply put, develop a clear statement that will form and shape the framework for why you write.

I’ve struggled with various forms of inertia over the last several years in getting the gears moving on writing. For one; writing personally, even on a blog, was verbally abused right out of me. I was told it was a distraction, an idol, even a waste of God-given time and money. I quit writing out of fear.

The other issue was time. Writing takes work, it takes time, it takes a few things to say and some motivation to get it done. Thankfully, I’ve had some opportunities to piddle and plod here and there with various writing opportunities. I’ll keep up on those.

The greater takeaway from that conversation was something I didn’t expect — a challenge. Often, I struggle to write something and publish it on my blog or an article because I feel like I don’t have anything exceptional to say. I’m pretty ordinary, my writing is pretty ordinary. I don’t have a huge platform or pastor a big church.

So again, if a pastor writes an article and sends it into the expanse of the internet, do the words have any impact? If he’s worried about his metrics, impact, or reach… perhaps not. But if he has a mission, and an aim in his writing, then quite possibly his work will have a great impact (although it may never be known to him).

All of this to say, in a rather circumspect way, I have to write, and I have to write as an outworking of my pastoral vocation. When Eugene Peterson talked about his writing and pastoring as “virtually the same thing for me: an entrance into chaos,” I understood his attempt to bring clarity to what was chaotic in his thinking and living.

When historian David McCollough says, “writing is thinking. To write well is to think clearly,” I get what he means. I have to write sermon notes each week so that my preaching is as clear as I can make it before the deadline of actually preaching hits. But writing to manage chaos and writing to think clearly isn’t necessarily enough for me to pursue a reading audience. If that’s all writing is then, I shouldn’t probably post anything online and should just keep my writing to myself.

The thing is, I don’t think my gifts in writing are merely for myself. If they are truly gifts then my writing should be a means of benefitting others, which flows out in two ways. First, this means the Reformation doctrine of Soli Deo Gloria has to be close at hand. My writing must be under the scope of being “to the glory of God alone.” With that freedom in hand, writing becomes a Godward ambition.

The second outflow is that my writing is for you. I must work as a servant to whoever is reading what I write. The things I write, if written for the glory of God, should be efforts to help you know God and to glorify God yourself. The metaphor of a travel-guide comes to mind. I want you to see all that is in God well, as best as I can, with the result that you will love and enjoy and worship God “with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.” This also means, my writing isn’t to be a means to an end for me. It’s not so I obtain a larger audience or a platform, or a book deal, or make money, or anything that brings an increase to me. I have to write with the posture to serve you.

Which leads me back to the whole point of this article; developing a mission statement for myself as a writer. GCD’s mission is to produce resources that will help “make, mature, and multiply disciples of Jesus.” As I’ve reflected on that purpose statement, and wondered about crafting my own, this purpose has resonated more and more for me.

The mission of my writing is to make, mature, and multiply disciples of Jesus. I want to glorify God and serve my readers, whoever you are, by helping you become, grow, and even reproduce yourself as a disciple of Jesus.

The bottom line is I have to write. Otherwise, I’m living outside the mission, which is simply a tree falling in the forest that makes no sound… and that makes no sense.

The Blog Is Dead; Long Live The Blog

Photo by  Joshua Ness  on  Unsplash

Photo by Joshua Ness on Unsplash

Around the internets, I’ve seen comments that blogging is on its way out. That being the case, I’ve decided it’s the perfect time to get back into it. You’ll thank me for my future-focused mindset and bucking the trends…. if the blog lives. 

In memoriam of the blog, he’s an “Everything That’s On My Mind (Almost)” list.

  1. Is it baseball season yet? I like what the Giants have been doing in their offseason to shore up the roster. January is a long dark month on the hot stove. 
  2. The #BCSPasCon18 was great this year. So much helpful on the Spirit and his ministry in my life, and in the church. Dr. Piper’s last plenary session was of particular help to me. 
  3. I’m concurrently preaching in Mark, writing a sermon from Psalm 119, and crafting a sermon series in the summer on the life of Samuel. 
  4. Gospel-Centered Discipleship had a great year. I’m excited about the future and the continued development of the resources and writing God has entrusted to us.
  5. Why does the eye doctor punish you for seeing well by dilating your pupils? 
  6. E.B. White now graces my site header. This picture inspires and astounds me. I’d love to have a shack to write in just like that. 
  7. Favorite vinyl right now? Over the Rhine Drunkard’s Prayer, War on Drugs A Deeper Understanding, U2 Songs of Experience.
  8. Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ Preachers and Preaching is essential reading for anyone who aspires to stand in the pulpit and declare God’s Word. 
  9. Eagles by 5.
  10. I pray for no more snow this year. 
  11. I'm staring at you Long's Peak... this summer, let's meet.  


Everything That's On My Mind (Almost) - Sept 6, 2016

  • Reading Why Write? by Mark Edmundson lately. Gotta figure out how to wake the muse.
  • Football season is here. I love college football! 
  • My children are "back to school" today. It's been a good summer, but the third grade calls.
  • I was asked to teach Latin this year. "ikay Okay".
  • The degree in which we attempt to make discipleship a formula is the degree in which we disconnect discipleship from relationship. 
  • I am more convinced that the more the evangelical church ignores the doctrine of Union with Christ the more likely we are to make up other things to mark our "holiness". 
  • I love how Stephanie jumps in fright watching Stranger Things. 
  • So far Need to Breathe's HARDLOVE is the album of the year. 
  • I think my fantasy football teams will be abysmal this year. Actually I'm pretty confident they will.
  • I'm grateful for the pastors that see far beyond attendance numbers and budget size into the very heart of the gospel – people being formed into the image of Christ. 

Everything That’s On My Mind (Almost) - Oct 10, 2015

  1. My wife is gone this weekend for a women’s retreat and I have the kids. Pray!
  2. My little girl is eight tomorrow. How did this happen? Next thing I know a boy is going to show up and want to take her to dinner. I’ll slash his tires.
  3. Somehow, I am now a “staff writer” for two different websites. Deadlines loom.
  4. Work hard at getting fresh views of Christ. That’s the only way we’ll change.
  5. I’ll admit that I’ve got my dad with me this weekend, so I have reinforcements. We’ll live (and eat like kings!).
  6. SF Giants are out (it’s an odd-numbered year), the Denver Broncos are undefeated (but look really suspect), Mizzou football is really suspect. So it’s going to be a disappointing sports winter.
  7. I feel like there is a “season” button for Michigan - no sooner does the actual season change and the weather does whatever it’s supposed to for that season. Unreal!
  8. Ronin Sushi in Royal Oak. Yes!
  9. Why is everyone up in arms about selfies? Instagram wasn’t the inventor of them. I’ve been taking selfies with every camera I can find for years!
  10. Read J.C. Ryle - like seriously! Get his Expository Thoughts on any one of the Gospel’s and just work your way through them.