Tuesday, July 16, 2019

The Importance of Thinking Before You Write

by Lucinda Secrest McDowell @LucindaSMcDowel

“Think before you speak!” is good advice.

What about “Think before you write?” Not a bad idea either. And I would add to that, “Pray before you write.”

I’ve seen far too much writing launched out into the world these days with nary a thought or prayer as to whether or not the words are true, helpful and gracious.  

Paul exhorted the people of Ephesus to “ lovingly follow the truth at all times—speaking truly, dealing truly, living truly—and so become more and more in every way like Christ who is the Head of his body, the Church.” (Ephesians 4:15-16 TLB)

When you write a blog, post, story or book, do you ask if your words reflect a person who is becoming “more and more in every way like Christ?” Don’t you want your writing (and living) to be a reflection of God’s truth?

Then stop taking for granted what media shares as “truth” and be selective in your own platform.

The original New Testament Greek word used in this Ephesians passage is alethia which not only refers to ethical truth, but truth in all its fullness and scope as embodied in Christ. Paul’s passion was that people would not only understand who they are in the vertical relationship with Christ, but also express their new identity in their horizontal relationship with each other.

How we address controversial issues is important. There seems to be a steady digression into judgment and self-righteous bantering online lately. May I raise my hand and declare that I am so tired of current events being viciously argued over social media?

Recently I learned two new words: “Crowdpounding” is when the online community rages against someone or something that was said, tweeted, or blogged, with an avalanche of vindictive words is spewed on the screen and no real person has to take responsibility. 

“Crowdaffirming” is the same sort of thing but in a vehement positive way that also can get weirdly out of control. But who wants to be part of a “crowd-anything?” We are called to be individuals and to answer to God as such.

Timothy emphasized that our words are a huge reflection of our walk. “Warn them before God against pious nitpicking, which chips away at the faith. It just wears everyone out. Concentrate on doing your best for God, work you won’t be ashamed of, laying out the truth plain and simple.” (2 Timothy 2.16 MSG)

I believe that we communicators are to be salt and light in the world. Our voice must be heard. But may it never be a strident, judgmental voice. May our compassion and kindness be the ‘tact’ that accompanies truth.

In his new book, “Fool’s Talk,” Os Guiness says “God’s truth requires God’s art to serve God’s end. Any Christian explanation or defense of truth must have a life, a manner and a tone that are shaped decisively by the central truths of the gospel. We Christians must seek to communicate in a way that is shaped by the One who sends us, and therefore by the pattern of the Incarnation, the Cross, and the Holy Spirit…it should always be evident that any power and persuasiveness in our communication comes from Him and not us.”

“Pious nitpicking” chips away at the faith and wears everyone out! Let’s make sure our words – both written and spoken – reflect the One we represent.

We can handle the truth in a winsome way!

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—[WRITE] such things.” (Philippians 4.8 NIV)

The Importance of Thinking Before You Write - insight from @LucindaSMcDowel on @EdieMelson (Click to Tweet)

Lucinda Secrest McDowell, M.T.S., is a storyteller and seasoned mentor who engages both heart and mind while “Helping you Choose a Life of Serenity & Strength.” A graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and Furman University, McDowell is the author of 13 books and contributing author to 30+ books. Her books include the award-winning Dwelling Places (2017 Christian Retailing BEST Award for Devotional)Ordinary Graces  (2018 Selah Finalist), Live These Words, and Refresh! Lucinda, a member of the Redbud Writers Guild, received Mt. Hermon “Writer of the Year” award and guest blogs for The Write Conversation, Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference Blog and (in)courage. Whether co-directing  “reNEW ~ retreat for New England Writing,”  pouring into young mamas, or leading a restorative day of prayer, she is energized by investing in people of all ages. Lucinda’s favorites include tea parties, good books, laughing friends, ancient prayers, country music, cozy quilts, musical theatre, and especially her family scattered around the world doing amazing things.  Known for her ability to convey deep truth in practical and winsome ways, she writes from “Sunnyside” cottage in New England and blogs weekly at http://www.EncouragingWords.net/ 
Follow Lucinda on Twitter: @LucindaSMcDowel


  1. Well said, Ms. Lucinda, but I believe it important to stand up for our faith and our beliefs. When we do that without pious words, but speak God's truth in love, we shine His light to the world. If we meet ugly, hateful, or sinful rhetoric with the same (albeit a different viewpoint/perspective)type of response, then we are only demonstrating how carnal we remain; in effect proving/validating their point. Great thoughts ma'am. God's blessings.

  2. Excellent reminder, Lucinda, thank you. It’s easier to stay out of the fray, but we are called to speak the truth in love, May the Lord help us do that!

  3. Very well addressed, Lucinda. I was reminded of this in the mid-'80's when I was speaking out on behalf of educational issues. We need to temper our passion and present our points in a winsome way.

  4. Another great column, Lucinda! Thanks, Edie!

  5. I have a note on my computer desk that says "PRAY FIRST". I ask God to give me words He wants me to share. :-)