How can writing be a form of Christian ministry?
By Jessica Brodie
Books have always been an obsession. My mom recounts tales of how I’d bring her one book after another, toddling over on my chunky baby legs, pleading, “Mommy, read. Read.”
I learned to read to myself in preschool, and soon I was reading to my own “babies,” neat lines of wide-eyed dolls and fuzzy stuffed animals, the only friends I cared to have back then (my shy days). I wouldn’t speak, but oh, would I read. And read. And read.
And write! My first real toy, the first I can remember playing with, was my mom’s typewriter. I can still hear the whir as I’d power it up, there on the floor in my playroom, roll in a sheet of white paper, and type whatever I could—letters at first, odd poems of DGHJHGHAJGDnnnjudy kfffgJHAGHSDGHShyiDG HJHDJSHD HIIIIII.!@#$%^Y**1234567890, then soon enough my name, my likes and dislikes, and eventually stories (mainly retellings of fairytales and Little Golden Books). It didn’t matter what I wrote, just that I was actually writing. The clack of keys and metal, the “ding” when I’d get to the end of a line and hit return, comforted and spurred me on like nothing else.
Later, I traded out my typewriter for spiral notebooks and black flair pens. Today, I prefer to compose on a laptop at my dining room table, though in a pinch I’ve been known to voice-record microblogs in the Notes app on my iPhone. It doesn’t matter what I use just as long as I get the job done. I can’t explain the why, only that I must do it. I cannot stop.
It surprises no one that I grew up to be a writer. And a reader. (If I weren’t a writer, I’m pretty sure I’d be a librarian. Or own a bookstore.) For me, writing is how I make sense of the world, how I do ministry, how I love.
In 1 Corinthians 12, the Apostle Paul talks about how there are many kinds of gifts, but they’re all part of the same Spirit and the same God, and all used together for the common good. He writes, “To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues.All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.”
Paul equates it to the human body—not just one part but many parts, all working together for the whole.
The whole, then, is all the parts working together. It’s better together. It’s better united. And it’s better when everyone uses every bit of his or her gift to glorify the One who bestowed that gift. Yes—it’s all about the One. Our Lord. Our Creator.
I used to think it didn’t much matter what I wrote as long as I was using my gift. But as my faith walk has intensified, I’ve realized that’s not true for me any longer. I personally cannot honor my Lord unless I’m giving over every ounce of who I am, giving over every bit of what I write, to the Creator. If it doesn't point to Him, it’s not priority.
It’s my ministry, my “pulpit.”
Writing and loving Christ are one and the same for me, now. Once obsession, it’s morphed into a full soul’s passion. And I’m grateful and blessed to do what I love, to bring my small part to help make the whole.