I recently asked a friend Ryan Watson to share with me a few pointers he had when it comes to influencing through writing. Below is part one of his “Five Qualities of an Influential Writer.“
Five Qualities of an Influential Writer
Discipleship in the context of direct personal relationship is no doubt the most effective platform for us to influence other Christians towards maturity in Christ. But I’m sure that as you reflect on your own journey, you’ll agree that it’s not the only one as you have been discipled by more distant voices. I’ve been discipled through the theology of song lyrics, the words of many preachers via sermons on podcasts, YouTube and DVD, and the written word in various texts. And while it may not be the most influential in effectiveness, books are the most influential in its pervasiveness. Think about it… How many books have formed the basis of discipleship ‘programs’ such as mentoring, life groups, and theological education? The written word is a significant medium of influence and leadership. And if you have a knack for or an interest in not just intellectual writing, but also creative writing like short stories, poems, and personal reflections, then you too have the ability to influence others with your words.
For those who are just starting out, there are a number of things we can do to become more confident, proficient, and effective in our writing. And even if you’re a bit more of an established writer, there may be something for you too. Now, I’m not writing as someone claiming to be an expert who made it. I’m not claiming to be the next John Piper, John Lennox, or Francis Chan (although it would be nice). I’m simply wanting to encourage and empower those who are wanting to write by sharing what I’ve learned as a university student studying English and writing as well as my experience of writing on discipleship.
Being prayerful, encouraging, inspiring, and practical should go without saying; this is true of all ministry. What I want to focus on are those elements that are more particular to writing, and they all come back to character.
- Be genuine
Being genuine is very important as you need to discover YOUR voice/tone/language. Don’t try to copy your favourite author because you are not them. This will take some experimenting and you will most likely be forever fine tuning it, but eventually you will find your writing voice. But, at the same time you need to be able to write to your platform. So a blog will be a bit of a more formal than how you would speak it. A book on the other hand is more formal than a blog, but this will be determined by your audience and your own ability.
Being genuine also involves writing about YOUR passions, not just writing on what is popular. If you do this you will be more motivated to write, which means you’ll put more effort in, and you will produce a higher quality and more interesting product. And as your passion for your topic comes through your writing, you will be more likely to motivate and inspire your audience to be passionate about it too.
And being genuine means not only being true to your audience, but also to yourself. So you need to check your motives. Why are you writing? Don’t write to become famous! You will either become proud or frustrated. To be honest, this is something I struggle with (and I’ll leave you to decide which one). Your main motive to write should be to fulfil Ephesians 4:12-15, “to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.”
Your writing is about Him, for His church.
Keep posted for part II. Ryan Watson has been a pastor and writes a theological blog titled Berean Baptists