As believers in Jesus Christ, it is necessary to write to a higher standard than the secular media requires of us. If we want to write about someone who has hurt us personally, we need to think carefully about our words. It will be important to extend grace to the individual(s) as we write our story. Many times, we are not released to write about our experiences until the offending person has passed away.
Most individuals are not entirely good or evil. They are, like us, a composite of both positive and negative traits. It would be easy to portray an offending individual in the darkest of terms and paint them with a brush entirely filled with black paint or in our case as writers, negative adjectives. People have also been shaped by the circumstances they have endured throughout the course of their lives. When we write about them, it is important to write about some of the extenuating circumstances they found themselves in.
When people have hurt us deeply, it may take us years to fully forgive them and be healed from the pain of their actions. Only because we have received the forgiveness that Christ offers, are we are able to extend that same forgiveness to the offending person. The further away from the negative experience we are, the easier it is to write about it from an objective viewpoint.
We need to remember that there are always two sides to any situation. When we portray the situation from our point of view, the offending person, if deceased, will not have the opportunity to provide an answer to our statements. There will be no one to speak in their defense, and even if their actions are indefensible, we should allow them a certain amount of latitude when sharing our story. It might seem impossible to do this, but I have found that through prayer, I am able to view them in a more compassionate light.
Remember, when writing publicly about those who have hurt us, we must reflect on the words we use. After all, dead men (or women, for that matter) can’t defend themselves!
There are some specific things that I have heard over the years that stick in my mind. They make me think about them and ponder them for a long time. One of these is about influence.
photo by ElisaRiva courtesy of Pixabay.
I heard a pastor speaking about the final judgment. He said people will be judged not just by their works but by the influence they had on others. He spoke about how some people’s influence will last generations and affect thousands or millions of people. I have thought about that a lot.
We all have a level of influence in others’ lives. Maybe it is our family’s, the people we work around, the students we teach, our friends; we will influence them. There are times in our lives when we will have greater influence than at other times.
When we are given a public platform of one kind or another, our influence grows. Whether we are a speaker, writer, actor, or a pastor, we begin to influence a greater amount of people than before. We need to think about that, because with influence comes responsibility and ultimately accountability before God. We can influence people in a positive direction or in a negative one.
If we are a writer, think about Mein Kampf. How many people has it influenced over the decades, and what did people do with that influence? How many millions of lives were taken because people read that book and believed what it said? Conversely, what is the most positive book you have ever read? How did it influence you and change your thinking? Were you able to apply that positive influence into your own life?
As writers we will write thousands or millions of words that others will read. What kind of influence are we having over the people that read them? Are we leading them in a positive or negative direction? Are we writing things solely for our own ends or material enrichment? Do we really care about the people reading the things we write? We need to think about it and not just blow it off casually, it really does matter.
Influence…we all have it. The question is, “What are we going to do with it?”