Why Writing Can Be A Spiritual Discipline

Spiritual discipline can be done in any form. There is no complete list of it but often we think it was only limited to self-denial by fasting, solitude, silence, practicing sabbath, worshipping, service, praying and bible reading.

Who thinks that writ­ing can be a spir­i­tu­al dis­ci­pline? Besides, not every­one is gift­ed with writ­ten com­mu­ni­ca­tion. If our words pos­sessed the pow­er to make a dif­fer­ence or tear some­one down, I think writ­ten words have more impact than any­thing else.

Because writ­ten words will remain for­ev­er even its cre­ator was gone already. The Bible, for exam­ple, was writ­ten by dif­fer­ent authors and have been trans­lat­ed into dif­fer­ent lan­guages, though the authors have died of per­se­cu­tion already or some of the old age, the words they wrote was still here. In fact, Bible has been the num­ber 1 best-sell­ing book of all time.

Today peo­ple com­mu­ni­cate dif­fer­ent­ly, work dif­fer­ent­ly, and play dif­fer­ent­ly. Yet many Chris­tians failed to rec­og­nize this fun­da­men­tal change.

I’ve heard count­less oppo­si­tions from peo­ple of the same faith, failed to rec­og­nize that an entre­pre­neur can mar­ry God’s word into his busi­ness. But with all what is hap­pen­ing in the blog­ging world, where every­one was post­ing their high­ly opin­ion­at­ed thoughts, satir­i­cal news, edgy arti­cles, I even see books get­ting sold-out more on enter­tain­ment, gos­sips, and books writ­ten by some celebri­ties who doesn’t have any­thing valu­able you can read with it.

With this cul­ture, can we real­ly mar­ry God into the world of writ­ing and still impact peo­ple through it? Can we real­ly make writ­ing a spir­i­tu­al dis­ci­pline?

The answer is: Yes

The Gospel message has not changed since 2000+ years ago, but the way people receive and process messages have changed.

Here are the rea­sons why:

1. Writ­ing is a form of wor­ship.

When we wor­ship, our focus instant­ly shifts towards God. Music instant­ly shifts our focus to God. When we see beau­ti­ful places, we instant­ly in awe of how God cre­at­ed the earth.

The same when I am writ­ing, my per­spec­tive shifts. I may stare at a blank word doc­u­ment for a few min­utes but when I start to write, my focus instant­ly shifts to my inner world. My inner world is full of inspi­ra­tion and it makes me for­get every­thing that con­tributes to my stress caused by exter­nal fac­tors.

My dai­ly writ­ing habit brings me to an adven­ture and gives me hope where every­one failed to see.

2. Writ­ing is cre­at­ing.

Jose Mar­ti once said: “Mankind is com­posed of two sorts of men — those who love and cre­ate, and those who hate and destroy.”

Writ­ing is cre­at­ing. When­ev­er I write, I feel cre­ative even though I can’t draw. God cre­at­ed the world with his vast array of imag­i­na­tion. Of course, we as humans don’t have the pow­er to cre­ate things through our voice, but we are known for cre­at­ing by first imag­in­ing it, then record­ing it — by writ­ing.

After devo­tion is also an oppor­tu­ni­ty to cre­ate a piece of art. I write what God has told me each day in a jour­nal.

When I write, I cre­ate words, then words become sen­tences that form an entire para­graph. Until that para­graph forms a page, until it becomes a book.

When Apos­tle Paul was writ­ing the epis­tles in prison, he was cre­at­ing a part of the Bible we have today.

3. Writ­ing is mis­sion­al.

We write every day. We cre­ate mes­sages, reply to emails.

I men­tioned ear­li­er how many Chris­tians, opposed adopt­ing tech­nol­o­gy in shar­ing the gospel. They think it was not effec­tive. But when  Bob­by Grue­newald, the founder of You­ver­sion, the famous Bible web­site before it turned to become a mobile app, he changed how peo­ple think of tech­nol­o­gy.

In my arti­cle Cod­ing For Jesus, I shared how peo­ple from dif­fer­ent church­es col­lab­o­rate how to inten­si­fy min­is­ter­ing to dif­fer­ent peo­ple with dif­fer­ent cul­ture with the help of tech­nol­o­gy.

When I write, I can be mis­sion­al too. I have a lot of friends and for­mer class­mates sur­prised me when I saw them being con­vert­ed to Chris­tian­i­ty and I don’t share the gospel with them per­son­al­ly. One class­mate just shared to me that he con­stant­ly see what I post on Face­book.

There are few peo­ple also whom I don’t know leav­ing a mes­sage how they were inspired of what I have shared with them lead­ing them to attend a church.

Oh! did you know that I have been saved and even­tu­al­ly con­vert­ed also in a non-tra­di­tion­al way? I was encour­aged to attend a church when I sought for more knowl­edge about God, then I stum­bled upon the blog of one pas­tor in the church I am attend­ing. You can check his blog here.

When the dis­ci­ples wrote what is in the Bible they know that they have the mis­sion to use it as an instru­ment to change the world and until now it con­tin­ues to change the lives of many peo­ple.

4. Writ­ing is serv­ing.

When­ev­er I write, I have the oppor­tu­ni­ty to serve dif­fer­ent kinds of peo­ple since I pub­lish what I wrote online. When every­thing goes online, the chances are many peo­ple from dif­fer­ent nations will be able to read it.

I serve when I write down my source of pain, and how God is try­ing to redeem me from it. I serve when some­one was able to relate to my expe­ri­ences.

And believe it or not, you can write even you are not a writer.

At the end of the day, I want my Mas­ter to say: “Well done, good and faith­ful ser­vant! You have been faith­ful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s hap­pi­ness!” (Matthew 22:23)

5 Rules of Short and Clear Messaging


Image from Caleb Roenigk (Flickr)

Last June 30, the new Pres­i­dent of the Repub­lic of the Philip­pines; Rodri­go Roa Duterte took an oath at the Mala­canang Palace. I have wit­nessed his very short and clear inau­gur­al speech that moved mil­lions of Fil­ipinos to hope again on the gov­ern­ment. Salute to this man as he knows what real­ly lead­er­ship is, a man of his words, and a man of action.

Did you know that there were no crimes have been record­ed dur­ing that day? I think that’s one of the chill­ing effects of this new admin­is­tra­tion. When cit­i­zens have the fear and respect for the gov­ern­ment and decid­ed to be part of the solu­tion rather than part of the prob­lem, every­thing will be easy.

Today, I would like to share with you some of the things I’ve learned from our President’s speech and will try also to include what I have learned also from Toast­mas­ters regard­ing effec­tive com­mu­ni­ca­tion.

David Ogilvy once said; “Peo­ple who think well, write well”.

Effec­tive writ­ing and com­mu­ni­ca­tion is not a nat­ur­al gift or tal­ent, it is a skill that any­one can learn and can be mas­tered through­out the process.

Here are some of the rules I’ve learned so far the way he deliv­ered his speech:

1. Read a lot of books. Read books on good writ­ing and com­mu­ni­ca­tion. Read your favorite book three times.

Read­ers are lead­ers and so lead­ers are read­ers. Most of the great­est man we’ve known that brought change to the world, are known to be good read­ers and writ­ers. They can com­mu­ni­cate effec­tive­ly whether to a live audi­ence or read­ers because they read good books.

In toast­mas­ters, I have to read good books dai­ly so that I can share more sto­ries to my audi­ence and gain some insights and lessons from them. I also lis­ten to pod­casts or TED Talks dur­ing my free time.

I think Duterte is also a read­er because most of the peo­ple known him, usu­al­ly called him a mas­ter tac­ti­cian. He knows the cry of the peo­ple, he knows the prob­lem and true enough he used that weapon to aid his cam­paign that even ordi­nary peo­ple joined him vol­un­tar­i­ly. He didn’t pay this them to cam­paign for him, rather, the peo­ple vol­un­tar­i­ly spend some of their cash for his cam­paign.

2. Write the way you talk or should talk and say it nat­u­ral­ly

When you talk or write, make it nat­ur­al. How? Make it very per­son­al because peo­ple will eas­i­ly notice it if you don’t speak nat­u­ral­ly and you just mem­o­rized it, you will only be a laugh­ing­stock for your crit­ics once you for­get your script.

But how can I speak nat­u­ral­ly if I don’t mem­o­rize it?

There are many meth­ods or out­lines you can use to aid your talk or your writ­ing. Here are two of the men­tal out­lines I’ve used when­ev­er I’m prepar­ing my speech­es:

PREP (Point — Rea­son — Exam­ple — Point)

This can be done by stat­ing your point, the rea­son for it, pro­vide some exam­ples to sup­port it, and go back to your point again to empha­size it.

SMG (Sto­ry — Mes­sage — Gain)

This can be done by shar­ing a sto­ry or an anec­dote, then your mes­sage and then the ben­e­fit the audi­ence can gain from your speech.

There are so many men­tal out­lines you can use. But I usu­al­ly use those two and start or end with a quote relat­ed to the sub­ject mat­ter. Just talk about what you know, your expe­ri­ences, peo­ple will love it if they can relate to you. Don’t be some­one else, be your­self!

3. Nev­er use jar­gon words.

As a read­er and lis­ten­er, I often with­draw from a book or speech if I don’t under­stand it from my lev­el of under­stand­ing. Using ordi­nary words would help you a lot to com­mu­ni­cate.

4. Check your quo­ta­tions, improve the orig­i­nal or give empha­sis to the words.

I don’t think a writer would com­mit a sin if he or she tries to improve a quo­ta­tion from an author. Why not try it?. There are times I’m improv­ing some quo­ta­tions from oth­er known authors and give empha­sis on it. You bet­ter give it a shot.

5. Nev­er pub­lish it or use it on the day you write it, read aloud in the next morn­ing and then edit it or throw it away if you don’t like how it is.

One of the mis­takes I did was the time I pub­lished first copies of my book. I didn’t check fur­ther for typos and gram­mar laps­es, that result­ed from me to revised the whole book and check it with anoth­er edi­tor or proof­read­er. To avoid this, nev­er set­tle for good. Don’t com­pro­mise qual­i­ty for the sake of urgency.

Bot­tom­line is, if you want to com­mu­ni­cate clear­ly and effec­tive­ly, make it short, and direct to the point.

This post was inspired by an arti­cle from https://www.brainpickings.org/2012/02/07/david-ogilvy-on-writing/