My wife turned me on to a blog post about “10 Signs the Christian Authors You’re Following are (Subtly) Teaching Unbiblical Ideas.” It was really good, and I thought to follow that up with my own list. This time I will use the “Stop, Start, Continue,” method that we use at work. Basically, it’s a list of things to stop doing, start doing and to continue. Here we go…
13. Stop using faith to push your particular brand of politics
Politics is downstream from culture and is downstream from the faith we practice in our homes. If we as Christians who write start use our platform to push politics, we are following an idol instead of doing God’s work. Don’t get me wrong, God does work in politics, but if we spend our time idolizing or bashing a President rather than working to make things better for people or building the Kingdom of God here on earth one brick at a time, we are edifying ourselves and political aspirations, not being Christ-like.
12. Stop using your platform to shine the light on the sin of others
It never works to focus on the sin of someone else. It doesn’t work as a new Christian, it doesn’t work as a life-long Christian. It certainly doesn’t work for a Christian writer. When we focus on the sins of others, we are putting ourselves above them, and didn’t Jesus say in Matthew 20:16, ” So the last will be first, and the first last.” Concentrating on the sin of others is a sin of pride, something any writer has to struggle with and to work to avoid. One phrase I use to keep myself centered is to remember, for any sin, for any person, there goes a person with sin no greater than my own.
11. Stop worrying about your image or your brand
We write and teach at the pleasure of our boss. No that’s not our spouse or our accountant. That is Jesus Christ himself. We will be called to account for the words we spin, not for our benefit, but for his. Let us stop feathering our nest with self-serving efforts, but use every effort, yes, even every breath to share and show our love for Christ.
10. Stop using the bully pulpit as a hammer
I’ve been guilty of this, and have been called on it. It’s something that I’ve got to watch out for constantly. Just because you have a platform and readers, doesn’t mean we get to climb up on a perch and tell people how they should live. In doing so, we only alienate our readers and make it more difficult to get across the messages that are really important. Instead of hammering away, take a step off that platform and write a metaphorical hug around your reader.
9. Stop compromising the Gospel for expediency
This one bugs me. The Christian community has let this go too far. If the Bible is the inerrant word of God, then why do we write pieces that glorify some parts of the Gospel, but compromise on the others. The Word is THE WORD. Yes, it was written by men, more than 40 of them. Yes, it was written in different times (about three thousand years). It has 66 books, but it tells one story. We have to be able to furnish the full story, and especially talk about and write about the uncomfortable pieces. Jesus is disruptive and sometimes we need to push that same disruption to our readers, our churches and even our families.
8. Show your human side and discuss your own struggles
Nothing makes for better reading than a story of triumph. God works through men to give them triumph over the enemy time and time again. We have all had crises and victories in life, let’s write about them and allow the reader to see the side of us that was once, hurt, weak and vulnerable. Let them see the victory that was won through Christ. Let them see Grace work in our own lives. These are the stories that will win people to the kingdom, not the hammer that was mentioned in number 10 above.
7. Understand that not everyone is on the same spiritual path
My wife reminded me of this, and it’s something that I’m still struggling with. Not everyone approaches the throne through the same life lessons and path. Some people need the intellectual arguments, some need the emotional, some need the spiritual. All of us are born with holes in our hearts that just happen to be Jesus-sized. We need him, and the approach you took may not work for everyone (anyone) else. Let’s understand that and be open to other approaches, and other needs.
6. Show love and grace in word and deed
As a writer I know what it’s like to write about something from the sideline. However, if you get in the middle of the issue, you can write with more passion and heart. Feed a homeless person, hug somebody who is hurting, tap knuckles with a child. These are things that edify and encourage those people, but nourish our own soul.
5. Seek justice for all
Jesus will be coming back to judge us. Every one of us. He won’t pull the writers aside and ask their opinion on what he should do. We get in line like everyone else. If we have a platform and talent we should be using that for the good of Christ and the good of the kingdom. But what is it we need to do for justice. Simple, call out injustice. Politics comes in last place when somebody has been the victim of injustice, and as a Christian, we need to bring this to light, and to work to fix the problem. We are not here to make it worse.
4. Encourage a deeper faith, rooted in scripture, and surrounded by community
Our faith should always be growing, and deepening. We should be using our platform to help others grown and learn as well. If we write, we are also teachers, and as Paul said in 2 Timothy 4:2, “ Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.” One more point, as a children’s ministry volunteer, one of the things that works every time is to tell somebody, “I believe in you.” The light comes back to their eyes and they are ready to lean in and learn.
3. Continue to show the many ways God works in this world
Again, stories are powerful, and if we can tell a story showing God working, it helps build the faith of those who may compromise or fall away. How many people do you have to affect for your writing to be worthwhile? The real answer to this is it only takes one. If we can keep one person on God’s path, or to help somebody choose Christ over sin, then we are doing our job.
2. Continue to use the ministry God has given you to encourage, edify and enlighten
Who have you encouraged today? That quote is at my desk in my line of sight. It helps me to realize that I’m not a travelling professor, but an itinerant encourager. There is nobody too humble for me to encourage. There is nobody to meek to edify. There is no truth too obvious, nor too obscure to be used to enlighten. Let me retell a story, told to me by a speaker long ago. In Maryland, it’s common to go to the beach to hunt crabs. To do this, you really only need a bucket to carry the crabs back to the boiling pot. But the curious part of hunting crabs is you need a cover for your bucket, only when you have one crab. When you catch a second and put that crab in the bucket, you can ignore the lid. As one crab tries to climb out, the other will pull him back in, even though both are destined for the cookpot. The moral to the story is to not be the second crab.
If you want to see a site that does a great job of this, look at Breakpoint
1. Continue to discuss truth seasoned with love
Look at the media these days, there is no love, and precious little truth. It is incredibly important for us, as writers, to provide a platform of truth, seasoned with love, in order to reach those sickened, hurt or destroyed by this world.
We are in a fallen world. Those of us who have Christ can see the hope before us that is beyond this world. With our words, painted with love, and trimmed compassion, let us show others that same hope, that same love that once captured us and brought us into Christ’s loving arms.