Monday, May 20, 2013

What is a Christian Writer?

I have a book that I bought many years ago when I first began my writing journey. It is Ethel Herr's book An Introduction to Christian Writing. It's a great book and one I encourage new writers to pick up.
I'd like to share with you a few of the points she brought out in her first chapter about writers who are Christian and what their responsibilities are:

  • A Christian Writer is - someone who writes! Sounds rather obvious doesn't it? They are editors, magazine staff writers, public relations specialists, technical writers, writing teachers, novelists. They are writers who happen to be Christian. In other words they have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. They belong to a body of fellow-believers. Jesus Christ is our Head and gives us our typing orders. 
  • A Christian Writer is - a believer at worship. Ethel Herr says, "We tend to think that we are first ministers with a pen. However, before we can minister, we must learn to worship and regard all our writing as an act of worship offered to the God of the universe. Everything we do and say must be an act of worship, done for God's pleasure." I like that  reminder! If we approach our writing as an act of worship done for God's pleasure, we will never write something that would violate, trivialize or compromise our basic beliefs.
  • A Christian Writer is a ministering prophet with a broken heart. Biblical prophets who preached judgment never delivered many words of fire without stopping to weep and plead with God's people. No matter how urgent the message, we must first let God break our hearts with the thing that makes Him weep, then weep with Him as we write. God has called us to be servants of Jesus Christ and to serve one another. We will write to meet others needs rather than our own. We will present all of life from the Christian viewpoint. The author also shares a warning her pastor gave her in regards to success as a writer - "There is always the danger that what begins as a humble service to God will become a desire to be great." 
  • A Christian Writer is an artist. Art is more than painting a picture. Art is music, acting, dancing, poetry - in other words, art is a reflection of self-expression, a gift of God that we share from our hearts to bring encouragement, beauty and pleasure to our readers and to God.
  • A Christian Writer is a craftsman. The craft of writing is an exercise in the disciplines of polishing and perfecting our work. Craftsmanship is workmanship - the 95 percent perspiration that must accompany the 5 percent inspiration before a piece of art can take shape. Ethel Herr goes on to say that:
  1. A craftsman takes pride in his work. He cares more about the quality than the sale-ability.
  2. The craftsman works with untiring diligence. 
  3. The craftsman nurtures growth in his person and in his writing. 
  4. The craftsman can take criticism and use it constructively in developing his craft.
The author sums up what a Christian writer is with these four principles:
  1. Weep. Look around you; see your world. Look within; know yourself. Look up to God; learn His expectations. Then let Him break your heart.
  2. Pray. Take time to pray each project into being. Don't rush into publication.
  3. Think. Think your subject through. Research it thoroughly. Produce mature, intellectually sound and honest work.
  4. Work. Be prepared to do plenty of this, but not without the first three steps.
Now, let the discussion begin. What do you think a Christian writer is? Someone who just happens to be Christian and a writer? Or, as the author suggests, a minister to those they are writing for? I'd love to hear your comments. If you are on Facebook, please leave your comments on my blog site so that others can follow along. Thanks!

You can purchase Ethel's book here

Until Next Time!

1 comment:

Peter Black said...

Hmm, very interesting and very good, Laura. Thanks.
Ethel Herr appears quite uncompromising in her approach; it would be hard to argue with her hey, not that I want to!). She provides firm, straight lines against which to place one's writing toes. ~~+~~

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