Posted On May 6, 2019

Why Write: Some Personal Reflections

by | May 6, 2019 | Plugged in to the Vine, Featured

I love writing. For me, writing is a divine calling. It is also a lifelong passion and a guiding vision. In the following brief reflections, I’m going to share some of my thoughts about three things today: the why, what, and how of writing. First, why write?

  1. Why Write?

That’s a good question to start with. Not everyone starts there, but I think that’s a helpful starting point. For me, my vision for writing as a Christian was shaped by reading a book by Douglas Hyde, Dedication & Leadership.

A former communist, Hyde argued that communists put Christians to shame by their effective use of propaganda. He challenged Christians to emulate communists—not in their ideology, but in their skillful use of persuasive arguments and rhetoric.

For some reason, Hyde’s volume, and the vision underlying it, caught my attention and helped me realize that writing can be a strategic stewardship if engages in passionate persuasion and makes a concentrated contribution. First, let me share a few thoughts on writing as stewardship.

Strategic Stewardship

There are typically only a handful of students taking my classes. OK, right now I teach a class with almost 70 students, but my point remains the same. Writing is a way to extend my audience beyond the classroom to a regional, national, and sometimes even global audience.

Writing helps me transcend both time and space. People might read something I’ve written even after I’ve died, so writing afford those of us who sense God’s calling in this area an opportunity to transcend limitations of time and space.

In terms of space, some of my books have been translated into other languages, so there is even the occasional opportunity to have a cross-cultural impact as well (an example of this is my book on marriage and family, which has been translated into Chinese).

Strategic stewardship is one excellent reason for writing. Stewardship means that writing makes good use of my time because it’s very productive and multiplies my labors beyond teaching or other local ministry, even though there can, of course, be some good synergy there.

In my experience, classroom teaching can give me some of the questions that people are asking, which I can then address in my writing. People sometimes ask me: What do you like better—teaching or writing?

While I love writing, I can’t really imagine not teaching because there is a symbiotic relationship between the two. I’d probably dry up before too long if I stopped teaching! For all these reasons, writing is strategic stewardship, leaving a written deposit for subsequent generations.

Therefore, let me ask you: What’s your strategy?

Passionate Persuasion

I write unashamedly to persuade, not just to inform or to put out information randomly. So, there is a decided, conscious purpose for my writing. Writing for me is not an end in itself, just because I like writing so much!

I want to persuade people in two ways. I want to persuade them in the truth, and I also want to persuade them of falsehood in some cases and defend orthodox doctrine, whether it’s the apostolic authorship of John’s Gospel or interacting with Bart Ehrman, the notorious skeptic.

I once met a fellow student in line at the campus post office after I had just published my very first article. And he asked me: How do I get published? So I asked him: Why would you want to get published? He drew a total blank. He had no idea why he’d want to publish anything!

This struck me as revealing: some think, well, I’m supposed to publish, so I better do that, but it’s not because of a driving passion, like what drove Paul, who said: Woe is me if I don’t preach the gospel! Woe is me if I don’t write! He had this passion to communicate the gospel.

So, my advice to you is this: Only write if you have something to say, and preferably something that is not already universally known, where you can make an original contribution, something that capitalizes on your gifts, strengths, and background, something you’re passionate about.

So, here my question to you is this: What’s your passion? What are you passionate about?

Concentrated Contribution

Therefore, be strategic, passionate, and concentrate your contribution. Pick two or three areas of interest and develop publishing expertise: your dissertation area, perhaps. Not that you’re stuck there forever, but this could be a foundation, and then you can branch out into other areas.

In my case, it happened to be John’s Gospel and the mission theme, as I wrote my doctoral dissertation on John 20:21, “As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you”—John’s theology of mission.

Another area, somewhat unrelated, in which I developed an interest was biblical manhood and womanhood, so that was a second area, and related to this, Paul’s letters to Timothy and Titus, because they contain a lot of information on biblical manhood and womanhood.

In addition, I’m passionate about biblical theology, hermeneutics, and New Testament Greek. It may seem random, but all these interests flow from my commitment to study Scripture responsibly—if possible, in the original languages, following proper rules of interpretation.

This, in turn, is an outflow of my commitment to biblical authority and my desire to impress the importance of the authoritative, life-giving nature of God’s Word on others and to assist them in discovering it and in exploring it for themselves.

So, writing entails strategic stewardship, passionate persuasion, and concentrated contribution. My question to you on that third point is: What’s your contribution? Where do you feel you can make a useful impact? Realistically, there will be just a few areas where you keep up with the literature and become an authority in a given field.

Related Posts

Prayer: A Source of Living Water and Strength for Desert Wanderers

Prayer: A Source of Living Water and Strength for Desert Wanderers

We know we need to pray. We also know the Scripture commands us to "pray without ceasing" (1 Thess. 5:17). After all, the forces of evil will do everything in their power to stop God’s people from praying. Even though we know all that (or should know that), we often...

Testing and Temptation in Scripture

Testing and Temptation in Scripture

On today’s episode, a listener writes in and asks Dave, “Is temptation sin?” What You'll Hear on this Episode Testing and Temptation in the Old and New Testament Subscribing, sharing, and your feedback You can subscribe to the Servants of Grace Podcast via iTunes,...

Christ’s Intercession on Our Behalf

Christ’s Intercession on Our Behalf

On today’s For Life and Godliness, Drew considers the intercession of Christ and its importance of it in the Christian life. Subscribing, sharing, and your feedback You can subscribe to Life and Godliness via iTunes, Google Play, or Spotify. If you like what you’ve...

Christian Friendship and Doing Life With One Another

Christian Friendship and Doing Life With One Another

On today’s Equipping You in Grace show, Dave considers the nature and purpose of Christian friendship and why real Christian friends tell each other hard biblical truths, comfort one another in love with Scripture, and do life with one another through every stage of...

Churches Need Expository Preaching

Churches Need Expository Preaching

Churches need pastors committed to expository preaching. An expository sermon submits its shape, emphasis, and argument to the Biblical text being preached. The point of the passage is the point of the sermon. A commitment to expository preaching exposes our...

The Death of a Spouse — Part II

The Death of a Spouse — Part II

Psalms 13:2 (NIV), “How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me?” How much longer? How much longer? Four hundred fifty-eight days later, not only has my hatred of death not diminished even...


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.