Lately I’ve been reflecting on what it means to be a Christian writer. Cause I are one. 😉 So here are some “Deep thoughts with Brad.” More to come later this week…
First of all, let me muse a bit as a writer who’s also a pastor. Both of those titles, pastor and writer, are identities. And yet, they’re descriptive of what I do as well. Are you a fisherman if you never go fishing? Are you a writer if you never write? Are you a pastor if you never shepherd anyone? No.
I’ve “always” wanted to be a writer. A couple of months ago I dug through a dusty old box full of things I created when I was young and rediscovered that writing has been in my blood since I the day I could put letters into words on a page. I was making books at age five…”The Monster Who DIdn’t Belong,” “The Green Frog,” and the first three pages of a full colour picture book about Dinosaurs were among the treasures I found in that box. Writing sparks life in me. It is deeply satisfying and when I don’t do it, I feel a little less like Brad, a little less alive and vital.My pastoral calling came later, in Bible School, where my schoolteaching trajectory got irreparably bushwhacked by a heart for church ministry. It’s been in my blood ever since. It’s become who I am. I cannot not pastor. I must help people live on target with Jesus Christ, or die inside from boredom and rebellion.
But which current is more central to my heart? Am I a pastor who writes, or a writer who pastors, or just a guy who loves both and lives with that tension every day of his life?
For most of my ministry career, writing has kinda felt like “the other woman” luring me away from more important things like my pastoral investments. My first work was a devotional book on prayer that I wrote for the kids in our youth group. It caught on so well that a small publisher picked it up. The Lead Pastor I worked under during that season actually told me in no uncertain terms to keep my writing out of the church office, as though it would directly take away from my “real” ministry. Fortunately, the last Lead Pastor I worked under blessed me in my writing gifts, saying that I needed to do what restored me.
The latter advice was closer to the truth, but still assumes that writing is secondary, kind of a necessary sideline I should indulge in if I need it to keep sane for the more pressing responsibilities in my life. Even when that godly man moved out of the corner office and I became Lead Pastor, free to choose where I spent my time (within reason), I still battled with the notion that writing wasn’t as important as the other things I do.
And then, a little over a year ago, I was reading the Epistles and realized that the most significant contribution the Apostle Paul made to the early church was not evangelism, raising the dead, sermonizing, or even one-on-one discipleship, as vital as each of those were for his ministry and the advancing of the Kingdom. No, when his ministry had come and gone, when all was said and done, his most enduring investments came in the form of written words—Epistles that have become the bedrock for Christian theology and THE defining handbooks on the Christian life and building up the church.
The Bible is a finished book, but the idea that inspired writing was fundamentally important to the growth of the Church slackened my jaw and glazed my eyes in wonder. That was it! The missing piece. My writing is not the other woman, not secondary. It’s a significant part of what I have to offer the Church of Jesus Christ.
Tomorrow: More on the writing life.