June marked ten years of blogging for me; it’s hard to believe a decade has gone by since I began. When I first thought of launching a blog, I was clueless, so I reached out to two Christian brothers for help. One was a new friend I’d made through a publishing contact, since we were writing for the same pastoral book series. His name is Brian Croft. I had been receiving a lot of help from his Practical Shepherding blog, so I asked him how he got started. The other brother is Tim Challies, a household name in Christian blogging. I “knew” Tim only from far away, as one of his readers, but he didn’t know me from Adam. Still, when I emailed to ask if I could call him for advice he said “yes.” I was so blessed by his magnanimous spirit. By applying their combined counsel, Counseling One Another was born in June 2011.
Since then I’ve had busy, consistent, flourishing times of blogging—as well as slow, inconsistent, dry times. But the Lord has kept me convinced that the value of blogging outweighs the work and the pressure, knowing that some people read my articles and, therefore, probably want more (at least the statistics of how many times articles have been read indicate this is so). But as I reflect on the past decade, here are five ways I can see how blogging has blessed me and my ministry, personally.
Blogging forces me to write regularly.
In recent years, I’ve read a handful of books on writing. One principle echoes through them all: In order to write better, you have to write more. Self-imposed blog deadlines force me to generate ideas to write about and then get it done. More importantly, I believe writing is part of the Lord’s calling on my life and, therefore, I simply have to write. When I don’t have an outlet for my writing, I feel impoverished. My goal, however, is for my writing to edify others. I want to be like the Preacher in the book of Ecclesiastes who “sought to find words of delight and uprightly he wrote words of truth” (Eccl. 12:10).
Blogging helps me organize, discern, and correct my thoughts.
The discipline of writing forces my brain to function logically, while also encouraging the development of creativity and imagination. It forces me to sift through a flurry of thoughts about any given topic and find a way to organize them into something that is presentable, winsome, and understandable to others. Sometimes I have to spew it all out on paper first, before I even know what I have to work with, then sort through the mess, collate, trash what’s useless, and refine what’s worth keeping. Seeing my thoughts on paper, in black and white, helps me to see where my thinking is imbalanced or out of step with Scripture, so that it can be corrected before I influence people wrongly.
Blogging helps me to record what the Spirit is teaching me as I interact with the Word of God.
I’m one of those people who can’t read a book without a pen in my right hand. I underline, highlight, and make comments or ask questions in the margin. I interact with the author (sometimes even talking to him or her out loud!). The same is true—especially true—when I’m reading the Bible. Why? Like I tell my counseling students, “The Bible is the only living book on the planet; every other book is dead. Therefore, you must interact with it and its author when you read it.” When Christians read their Bible, we have the incredible privilege to have the author of the book living inside of us, interpreting and applying it to our hearts so that we may follow the mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2:11-16). Because this is true, I want to learn what the Spirit is teaching me when I meditate on the Word. Many times, lessons learned during my devotional times end up becoming blog posts. In that way, my blog sometimes reads like a spiritual journal.
Blogging helps me to grow as a shepherd of souls, as the wellspring of my heart deepens.
As I apply Scripture to my mind and life, and learn to communicate its truth in ways that are helpful, the wellspring of my heart is dug deeper. Then when I open my mouth to feed God’s sheep in any given context, whether preaching, teaching, or counseling, it is more likely that the words which flow out are more natural, less canned or programmatic. This “speaking the truth in love” stimulates the body “to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ” (Eph. 4:15). As I wrote in my book, Counseling One Another, “I appreciate David Powlison’s simple definition of counseling as ‘intentionally helpful conversations.’ The power of biblical counsel lies in the degree to which our words are filled with the Word.” This is the kind of life-touching-life communication of transformative biblical truth that Jesus’s strategy for discipleship envisions.
Blogging has produced lasting fruit in the form of books.
People often ask how I find time to write books. My answer is always the same: “I never sit down just to write a book.” Every book grows out of my pastoral ministry to real people with real needs in real walks of life. If writing is rooted in the Word of God then its relevance is timeless, since it endures forever (Isa. 40:8). If a teaching encourages the growth of people in my church then it will most likely help others whom I will never meet. Reader response confirms this and, as a result, blogging has led to the publishing of several books. For example, I see specifically how some chapters in two recent devotional books (Anxiety: Knowing God’s Peace and A Small Book for the Hurting Heart: Meditations on Loss, Grief, and Healing) came into existence through the following three-step process: (1) a Bible teaching w/application, taught to a large or small group at church, was (2) later pared down into one or more blog posts and, years later, (3) the blog posts became book chapters. The middle step—blogging—made the third and final step possible and, consequently, has enabled biblical teaching to impact more people in more places over more time. That’s really encouraging!
So, at the end of this anniversary month, thank you for being a regular reader of Counseling One Another. If you just stumbled onto the blog, welcome! You, the reader, are the reason I’ve kept going for a decade and, Lord willing, will continue to write as often as He enables me. If you would like to receive updates when new articles are published, please enter your email address in the Subscribe box above, in the right margin.
May the Lord richly bless you as you grow in grace and truth!