“Miserable Writers Are You All!” An Essay on Writing

17 Sep

Please forgive the reference to Job’s castigating his friends as “miserable counselors are you all!” (Job 16:2)

Writing books really is overrated. At the ripe old age of 71 I’ve been thinking, what meaningful ministry have I had and do I really have now? I love writing. I blog every day. I’ve written a bunch of books on a lotta different topics. My first book (The Other Side of the Good News) was a defense of the biblical doctrine of hell. Then I got a lot more joy by writing Heaven: Thinking Now about Forever. I wrote a three-month devotional book on Christian beliefs (DocDEVOS).

A publisher in Scotland had me write two doctrine books: DocTALK and DocWALK. I tackled the topic of sin in my book When Temptation Strikes. My latest book is a challenge to Christians to be a friend of sinners like Jesus was (Unlike Jesus: Let’s Stop Unfriending the World).

I’ve self-published several books such as Saved: Rescued From God, By God, and For God. When noted pastor Rob Bell appeared to turn away from the Christian faith, I used John Piper’s famous tweet and wrote Farewell, Rob Bell (an evaluation of Bell’s theology). Whatever Happened to Heresy began as a multi-submission to a Christian journal and then wound up as a short book.

I self-published two books from my students’ work in two of my seminary classes: Thinking about Theology and After This Life . . . What? I presented copies of these two books to my seminary dean and the university’s provost on ironically the day they ended my 20-year teaching career due to the university’s economic downturn!

I’ve also written books for students, such as The Top Ten Mistakes Students Make on Research Papersand How to Avoid Them! I even got so bold as to write a short pamphlet for preachers entitled Ten Specific Steps You Can Take to Make Your Sermons and Preaching Better!

I have tried my hand at writing fiction like John Baldacci or David Grisham (I mixed those names up on purpose for those of you who read fiction). I envy them the money they’ve made and the audience they have. I ventured into fiction with my short book Abandon All Hope. It’s about a man who dies and goes to hell . . .

But I’ve never really had an agent and none of my books has ever taken off.

There’s several reasons for that: one reason may well be that I’m not a good writer. But I think I am a good writer but I don’t have an audience. I don’t have an agent. I don’t have a name. I don’t have a platform that allows me to reach a lot of people.

Could it be that I’ve written stuff that’s not that important? But most of my books have been on the Christian life and on making the doctrines of the Bible understandable. I’ve even had people like J.I. Packer endorse my books! So I’m not sure that’s it.

Maybe another reason is that Christians are lousy readers. I talked with a Christian tennis friend who has read just about everything by John Grisham, David Baldacci, Tom Clancy, and several other fiction writers. “I just don’t read non-fiction,” he said. I asked him if he’s read anything by John Piper and he said, “Who?” I think our churches are failing to encourage our people to read.

Perhaps the question is, do we overvalue writing? I look at my other ministries: teaching online courses to 3rd world church leaders, mentoring a younger believer, editing some really good books on biblical eldership and other topics, praying for Christians that I know are broken and really hurting, seriously becoming a friend of sinners, seeking to do the best in modeling a godly marriage in our 50 years, working hard to influence our seven grandchildren to walk with a whole heart in the Lord.

I think the Evil One makes us believe that we’re not significant as Christian leaders unless we’ve got some best selling books.

But in the final analysis what impact have those fiction-writers had on eternity? Now I read their books because I enjoy reading their fiction, but have they impacted anybody for the kingdom of God?

I’ve had the privilege in my teaching career in Bible college and seminary of reaching hundreds of students, encouraging them to be strong in the basics of the Christian faith, to love the Lord, to love their families, to be willing to do all kinds of ministry.

But I’ve not been a best selling author and . . . that’s OK. I’m thinking of starting a group for authors called Hopeless Writers. What do you think?

1 Comment

Posted by on September 17, 2021 in writing


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One response to ““Miserable Writers Are You All!” An Essay on Writing

  1. Anonymous

    December 3, 2021 at 10:40 pm

    I would join your group of Hapless Writers or is it Hopeless?


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