Early in my ministry, I discovered that writing was a great diversion for me. I had written papers, sermon manuscripts, and letters (remember those?) since I was a teen-ager, but I first came to see writing as a creative outlet when editor Bill Junker invited me to write an article for The Student magazine. This began a long-time partnership with National Student Ministries that included a number of articles, several training resources, and one Bible study guide.
My interest in writing found an outlet through articles and papers written both for The Campus Minister Journal and for some meetings of State Directors of Student Work (now collegiate ministry). Along the way, I also began writing a column for Reflections, the monthly publication of the Student Ministry Department of the Tennessee Baptist Convention, that I called The Barnabas File. I carried the title over to my column in the Tennessee Cooperative Baptist Fellowship newsletter and in June 2006, Barnabas File became the title of my occasional blog.
Writing gives me the opportunity to play with ideas, words, and structure, always in an attempt to get a message across to a reader. The online blog has proven to be a great way to put things out there and get some response. I have also been affirmed by the fact that ethicsdaily.com, Central Baptist Theological Seminary, and Associated Baptist Press are gracious enough to pick up some of my blog posts, and I am still surprised when I see someone at a meeting and they comment on something that I have written.
Writing is a creative process, but it is also work! I just finished writing up a rather lengthy report for Central Seminary. A lot of what I covered was “inside baseball” material that would be of little or no interest to someone outside of the theological faculty, but I made an effort to make it readable and interesting. This required about forty hours of writing (not including research). The writing was sometimes an hour or two at a time, but I invested a couple of six hour days when I got into the final stretch.
Someone once said that the key component of success was just showing up. For a writer, the road to success is putting some words on the page (or the computer screen). The initial effort may not look like much, but it is a beginning that one can return to and polish, delete, or rearrange. In order to be a writer, you have to write! Whether you are a novelist, a biographer, a reporter, a columnist, or a blogger, you have to start by putting your thoughts down. What happens after that is often in someone else’s hands, but it does not lessen the joy of writing.