Tuesday, January 11, 2022

A Writer's Responsibility for the Words We Pen


by Cindy K. Sproles @CindyDevoted

I'm working on fulfilling a contract for a devotional. It's not your basic devotional, but it includes tidbits of history, possible new perspectives, and reasons about the whys and hows the reader may not have considered. I've looked for different types of scripture. Some obscure because it forces me to study, others simple. I've found questions and perspectives I never imagined. 

Because this is digging a tiny bit deeper, I have secured the Biblical oversight of a Professor of Ministry and Preaching at a Bible College. I wanted to be sure I did not misrepresent God's word in any way. This man has been so kind to follow devotion by devotion, add insights, approve the doctrinal thoughts, and head-scratch some with me. I have also enlisted the wise counsel of our minister at church, who has, a couple of times, said, "Cindy, no one has ever asked me that question before. It's a good thought. I like where you are going." 

I tell you this, not to brag or make myself look smart, but because this type of attention is what every writer should do before putting the first word on the page. It may not be that you need Biblical direction or doctrinal approval, but it may mean before your comments ever leave your computer, you make sure you've 
  • 1) written it contextually correct 
  • 2) it's written in love and not vengeance or anger, and 
  • 3) you have prayed fully over it.
We live in a world that seeks ways to discredit the believer and, worse yet, the God we believe in so strongly. Now, more than ever, our words carry a message of power. My family recently enjoyed the newest Spiderman movie. The young teen was reminded of a significant fact during the movie. "With great power comes great responsibility." I'm not sure we could find words that are any truer. As writers, we wield a sword that can make or break a reader. It is a huge responsibility. 

Our writing responsibility doesn't end with the devotion, Bible story, non-fiction, or fiction story we may write. It carries fully into our daily lives on social media as well. Look at the landslide that happened on FaceBook with false news. Lies fueled anger, hate, and frustration across the country. The sad thing was even well-respected Christians fell into the mania. What message do you think that sent to non-believers? Some strong in the faith lashed out with horrible words, and all I could think was, would they say those things in front of Jesus? 

Some of those comments we penned solidified the beliefs of the unchurched. "Why would I want to be a Christian if that is how they behave?" Writing good words during upheaval is difficult, but as a servant of the Kingdom, your responsibility is to the truth of Christ. Your approach is what will make the difference. I'm sure Jesus grew frustrated and sometimes angry, but His teachings were gentle. Short of His anger in the temple with the money changers, we only find the compassion Jesus taught by. In His gentleness, Jesus changed lives. In His plight to remain in truth, He set an example.

I once heard Steven James teach in a class that the way to win people to truth is not by standing on a soapbox wagging your finger in their face. It's not telling them how wrong they are or blistering their beliefs, but it is done by writing from the consequence of the action. I had to think about it for it to truly sink in. That is how Jesus taught – from the result of the wrong action. This is why many other authors and I continually say, "Learn the craft." We must know how to pen good solid writing from a compassionate view to make a relational connection to the world of non-believers. 

When your words land on the page, you are taking on a position most dear to God. You are carrying HIS message to the world. A world He so loved that He gave His only son. It's precious to Him. He's protective of it. Caring of it. Loving of it. The masses are reading your words via social media, blogs, and web pages. So, what is your priority for being sure the words you send out to the world are God-pleasing? 

How do we do this? 
  • 1) Never hit send on the first draft, no matter how well crafted. The commas and hyphens may be right, but is the tone of what you say suitable? 
  • 2) Are your words penned out of anger, frustration, or hurt or have you gleaned the emotion and phrased things in a godly manner. 
  • 3) Do you consider the responsibility to the Father before you hit enter? 
Every writer must check and recheck all these things before sending out their words. Responsibility is more than being grammatically correct. It's being Christ-like. I had written blog posts before and sent them to a trusted friend with the question- "Too much?" Her response is the gage that tells me I have overstepped my bounds of responsibility, and I wait a day, then rewrite. Obviously, my heart wasn't in the right spot. Or if it was, it got a bit testy.

Jesus commissioned us to go into the world and make disciples. Teach. Spread the word of this loving God and all that He was, is and shall be. Take it seriously whether you are writing a devotion, a study, or fiction. My efforts to seek counsel on the devotional I am writing is not for me. I already know I'm not the wisest person in the world, and I fall far short of what and who God wants me to be, but I do this to be sure that as my words go out into the world, they represent a God of love, discipline, peace, and hope. 

As you write, remember, "With great power comes great responsibility." Pen good words.

TWEETABLE

Cindy K. Sproles is an author, speaker, and conference teacher. She is the cofounder of Christian Devotions Ministries and the executive editor for www.christiandevotions.us and www.inspireafire.com. Cindy is the lead managing editor for SonRise Devotionals and also Straight Street Books, both imprints of LPC/Iron Stream Media Publications. She is a mentor with Write Right and the director of the Asheville Christian Writers Conference held each February at the Billy Graham Training Center, the Cove, Asheville, NC. Cindy is a best selling, award winning novelist. Visit Cindy at www.cindysproles.com.


Featured Image: Photo by Marcus Urbenz on Unsplash

18 comments:

  1. I want you to keep providing such information, I learned something out of your knowledge, I hope to keep sharing such information thank you.
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    1. I'm glad this was helpful. We have a great responsibility.

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  2. I want you to keep providing such information, I learned something out of your knowledge, I hope to keep sharing such information thank you.
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  3. Amen Ms. Cindy. I remind myself often that every word I write should bring honor and glory to God; and I will answer to Him for every word I write honor Him. Great thoughts ma'am; and prayers for your upcoming devotional.

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  4. Thank you so much. Prayers appreciated.

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  5. Thanks so much, Cindy. The truth really does set us free! By the way, I now live in Beaufort with my daughter. Still visit Walterboro from time to time. Blessings!

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    1. Thanks so much. Maybe we will see you when we visit HHI in Aug.

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  7. Excellent blog. Great reminders of the responsibility we carry.

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  8. Cindy, thank you for this powerful reminder, well-written. I just added "With great power comes great responsibility" to the whiteboard that sits on my desk.

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  9. Awesome. I'm glad it's striking a cord.

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  10. What a great message for every writer! Thank you Cindy.

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  11. "When your words land on the page, you are taking on a position most dear to God." I read in a podcasting blog recently that the writer considers the space between her mouth and the microphone to be holy ground. Whether we're writing or speaking, what a humbling position that is when we stop to think about it. Thanks for sharing such good advice and so many points that resonated with me.

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  12. Your words are so well put, and are settling in sweet spots in my writing heart. Candid, instructive, true. Thank you.

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