Any of us who have survived the toddler phase with our little darlings have undoubtedly told those darlings, more times than we care to count, to “use your words.” Sometimes I still have to say this to mine, despite the fact that all three of them have long since graduated from toddlerhood. If I’m feeling especially obnoxious, I sing the Daniel Tiger song. Any of you with kids the same ages as mine can sing along with me. “Use your wo-o-o-ords, use your words!” (You will now have that song stuck in your head the rest of the day. You’re welcome).
For those of us who are called to be Christian writers, this is the essence of that calling: to use our words. Use them to glorify God and give hope to those mired in a messy world. Use them to point the way to the Word made flesh, Jesus Christ Himself. Use them to uplift. Inspire. Encourage. Leave everyone who reads your writing slightly better for having read it.
But what if you’re not yet published? What if your words are stuck in the slush pile, or tied up in committee, or still on your hard drive, not yet released even to your critique partners? What then?
The cool thing about God is that this calling doesn’t require a published novel, an impressive platform, or a public ministry. Any time we write anything that anyone else sees, we can use our words to live out our mission. Here are just a few examples:
1. Do you have a Facebook page? A Twitter account? A blog? Whether these are slick, polished, professional pages or personal ones where you mainly talk about your kids’ shenanigans (not that I would know anything about this, ahem ahem), if you’re on social media, you have a spot where your words can be seen by however many friends or followers you have. Use this to your advantage! Rather than getting mired in the latest mommy war or political controversy, use your words on social media to encourage whoever reads them. Come alongside your friends and reassure them that they’re not alone.
My early years of motherhood were, to put it mildly, difficult. My oldest (Yakko, for purposes of this blog) was colicky as a baby, and he’d just barely grown out of this when I learned I was unexpectedly pregnant again with his little brother, Wakko. In addition, Wakko was born with cleft palate, which meant that feeding him, in any form, was a messy and time-consuming proposition for the first year of his life. That part of my life was without a doubt the most difficult time I’ve had so far. But having gone through that, I am blessed to be able to encourage young moms I know on social media who are where I was. By using my words, I am able to reassure them that this, too, shall pass, and that life is about to get a whole lot better.
2. ‘Tis the season for end-of-year teacher gifts, at least in these parts. Many of the other moms will painstakingly produce clever, hand-crafted gifts that would do Pinterest proud. Other moms will let their money do the talking. Please know that I am in no way criticizing these moms! I envied them, to be quite honest…until I realized that I, too, have something to offer. Because God has given me the gift of writing, I can put into words exactly how much I appreciate these teachers, and how grateful I am for their influence in my children’s lives.
3. Do you text? I’m old enough to remember when texting was clunky, awkward, and time-consuming; when you had to press the phone keys a specific number of times to get the letter you wanted. Using the phone to actually talk was so much easier. But now, with keypads and all the other technological advances, it is an admittedly rare thing for me to use my phone as an actual phone. As an introvert, I am more than okay with this. Texting and emailing gives me time to think about my responses and craft them into something clever. (It also helps me avoid putting my foot in my mouth when I speak without thinking, which is something I am sadly prone to do).
These are just a few of the ways we can live out our calling and use our words, without ever hitting the bestseller list or even having a buy link for our book yet. In Isaiah 55:11, God promises that not a single word that goes out from His mouth will return to Him empty, “…but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” While the verse refers to God’s own words, I believe that He won’t waste a single word we offer for His glory and the good of His people, either. Whether it’s an email, text, Tweet, Facebook post, greeting card, or simply a word of encouragement to a stranger on the street, we can use the gift God has given us, even if that manuscript never sees the shelves of a store.
How can you use your words today?