By William Ballard
It is assumed that the ones that are engaged in this book are aspiring to enter into the writing ministry, or intend to be associated with it in some close fashion. If that is indeed you, then you stand on the threshold of rich and real experiences that shall eternally-direct the course of your life from here on out.
How wonderful is it that you should come into the fellowship of those who travel in such large company, and yet you must still walk alone?
One earlier “writer” on earth was Enoch, the firstborn of Jared (See Genesis 5:18). A great gift entered into Jared’s home, a bright-eyed boy whose heart yearned after the things of God. However, in Genesis 4:17 we read of another Enoch whose father was the wicked Cain. This man had a city named for him. But Genesis 5:24 says (speaking of Jared’s son), “Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him.” Thus we see that this writer’s life was marked by his close personal relationship with God. He “walked with God”. More than four-thousand years later the writer of Hebrews added, “By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death;… for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God” (Hebrews 11:5). This “writer” had a good life and good testimony.
He also “wrote” (proclaimed) the truth. Jude 14 – 15 records: “And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten-thousands of his saints, to execute judgement upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” To both write and live the truth is the most important role that any Apostolic Christian Writer can fulfill.
I wonder if the shadow of this great man’s ministry is not cast sharply right at the beginning of all things, as an example to those who would later separate themselves to the same calling and follow in his steps.
After Enoch came Noah, “a preacher/writer of righteousness”. Then followed a long line of seers and prophets, and finally pastors, teachers, and evangelist.
Honesty compels me to warn that the life of a writing minster is sprinkled not only with sunshine but also with shadows. But even though the sunshine (new revelation) is bright, enjoyable, enlightening, empowering, and illuminating, so too can comfort and warmth be found in the shadow of the Almighty.
Human nature, in all of its complexity, is certain to create troubles of its own. Any writing minister will tell you that they always find the greatest part of their work when in prayer, in the process of study, and in the act of writing. Some of the problems that a writing minister will face are simple and can be solved with simple procedures, but others are more complex and require foresight, tact, and patience.
No one completely holds the answers to the tangles of a writer’s life. It merits worth mentioning that a writing minister will make mistakes even after the most conscientious effort to be discreet is put forth. Many times a writing minister of any age will chide himself and wish vainly that he had previously known the lesson that bitter experience has just taught him.
Right at the beginning of this divine adventure, we can examine a few things that will open the door just a little to what is expected in the general life of the writing minister.
Of course, if you are reading this, you are probably already saved (as clearly laid out in scripture) and have heard a distinct call from God in your heart and soul to this ministry. If not, unless these two things are settled, there is no reason to go any further. The point is this: The church is a spiritual organism, and it follows that no one can be effective in such a spiritual position without the feeling and leadership of the Spirit.
Principles of an Apostolic Christian Writer’s Life
The writing minister must love the Word of God with all his heart, mind, and soul. He should know its history and understand how it was compiled. The writing minister should know the books of the Bible by heart and their authors. Along with that, he should know the theme and setting of each book. He should know their groupings such as the books of the prophets, kings, and so forth. He should also know the chronology of the great events in the Bible and how the great prophets fit in with each of these events. The writing minister should also know Old Testament history, the Tabernacle plan, the life of Christ, the Book of Acts, and the main topics in the Epistles.
It really should go without saying, but the writing minister should believe every word of the Bible. He must able to accept every word, verse, chapter, and book as the divine Word of God, which came from His divine mind and heart. None of it is to be left out, for each line and verse has its particular purpose. The writing minister should feel in his soul the verity of the warning mentioned in Revelation 22:18-19: “If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: and if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.”
The writing minister must feel that God did not make mistakes in one or any area of His Holy Word (the Bible). He must avoid questioning the authenticity of any part of the Scripture, for doing so is to weaken his faith and the faith of those that hear him. Doubts may arise relative to people and circumstance, but at no time can the writing minister afford to entertain a doubt as to the absolute truth of the Bible.
The writing minister must always remember that it is not against flesh and blood that he wrestles, but against Satan himself. The people he deals with on a day-to-day basis are not his enemies. With this kind of attitude, the writing minister looks upon his readers with compassion. He feels that there are some good in all, and that in the heart of every reader there is bound to be a hunger for God. It is in the outreach of compassion that the writing minister endeavors to help readers along the way.
In his devotions and through his observations over the years, the writing minister gradually comes to see how very much God must love human beings. This kind of appreciation lends a certain respectful awe to the work of the ministry. He deals with immortal souls for whom Christ died. The work of the ministry is eternal work, for, after all material things over which people strive in this world have passed away and eternity itself has become hoary with age, the soul with which the writing minister works will still be in the freshness of its youth. In the light of the eternity of human souls, what could be more rewarding than the work of the ministry?
The writing minister must believe that outside of Jesus Christ all souls are lost. If people can be saved without the Savior, then there is no need to offer him. If He is not Savior of all, then perhaps He is not Savior at all. Feeling strongly that no one “climbeth up some other way” and that there is no other name under heaven whereby we must be saved, lends an urgency to the ministry that it will be incomplete without.
If the writing minister is to help others, he must walk and write in the Spirit. Jesus assured us that no branch could bear fruit of itself. Invariably it must abide in the vine. “As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me” (John 15:4). Nothing that the human mind alone produces or that human strength alone initiates is of any spiritual value. Only what is a direct product of the spiritual will be lasting and genuine in the Kingdom of God. To build with or upon anything else is sinking sand. We as writing ministers might show activity, or produce something that to the unspiritual eye seems good, wholesome, and commendable, but to God, before whom all work should appear, it is but as sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal. What is born of the flesh is flesh and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. The products of human planning and effort can be nothing more than flesh, and “no flesh should glory in the presence” (I Corinthians 1:29).
To please God, regardless of what others think, should be the highest hope of the writing minister. He must be continually spiritually vigilant so that he does not grieve the Holy Spirit. Since no one can say that Jesus Christ is Lord except by the Holy Ghost, the writing minister dares not attempt to minister without the Spirit’s unction. No writing minister can effectively conduct a Pentecostal reading experience unless he knows how to recognize the various workings of the Spirit and is sensitive to the Spirit’s leading. To woo the Holy Ghost and live under the Spirit’s shadow is imperative if the writing minister expects his ministry to be fruitful and anointed.
The Apostolic Christian Writer’s Main Task
It is staggering to consider a writing minister’s involvement in sharing the gospel through the written word and his servants heart towards his local church. Yet that is only one side of being a writing minister of the gospel. The average layperson has no way of knowing the magnitude of the writing minister’s responsibilities. Many feel that the writer’s life is quite leisurely, with only a few hours of work a day and the rest of the time spent in hobbies and relaxation. If they are not associated closely in some way with the ministry, the laity cannot be wholly blamed for this misconception, since there is no way for them to learn differently.
There are many different angles to the ministry, and each varies in responsibility. Some are enough to take up an average person’s time. When we add them all together, without question, the scope of the ministry is large enough to challenge anyone.
No other person in the community is expected to be competent in so many diverse fields as the writing minister. First and foremost, he is a leader in promoting spiritual wisdom and insight. No saint can rise higher in spiritual things than the minister that God has put in his or her charge. In this field he must not fail. Just as people visit the doctor for physical help, a reader looks to a writing minister for direction and instruction in spiritual matters. They expect him to know the way to the secret place of the Most High and to lead others there.
Because of this position, the writing minister as to be overseer of every area of the written work being written and published. While others may attend to details and promotion of other departments of the writing and publishing process, it is ultimately the writing minister who must know something about each and every area (or phase) of the work. All department heads must be answerable to him, and with them he must cultivate a good working relationship in order to correlate the whole into a smoothly running, workable organization and operation. He is to be the spark plug of ideas. Woe to the writing minister that allows his writing and publishing team to think ahead of him! His office and keen interest in a work so dependent on him should produce plans equal to the varied needs and emergencies that may arise.
The writing minister finds himself as the go-between in disputes that sometimes arise between saints, family members, friends, and co-workers. The patience of Job and the wisdom of Solomon are coveted attributes and graces of the writing minister. Blessed is the writing minister who can perceive clearly, judge fairly, and kindly render a tactful decision. If the writing minister becomes part of the problem, he has disqualified himself to mediate it through the written word. What an awkward situation it is when a writing minister cannot manage his own affairs! There is no excuses he can make, for he is a specialist, and is supposed to know.
The writing minister is just as much a shepherd of the flock as a pastor is. Although a writing minister may not always be in direct contact or closeness with a saint as a pastor would be, a writing minister still connects with a saint with such a closeness that is nearly impossible to describe. It is amazing how much trust and confidence is offered to Apostolic ministers of Pentecostal churches. Surely such complete commitment to writing ministers care and judgement is enough to make angels hold their breath. The answer and interpretation of scripture that the writing minister gives had better be right, for the advice given will usually be followed. The people are the sheep who follow, and the minister is the shepherd who leads.
Now, to another important note, in the course of a year (or so), the writing minister of any sizeable following (readership) is likely to see the expenditure of many thousands of dollars. As the size of the following increases, the size of the income also increases. Quite a few writing ministries have incomes as great as many small businesses. Essentially, the writing minister heads up a corporation, having under his jurisdiction, department heads (leaders), sub-heads (managers), and a host of secretaries and committees. He must know how to administrate wisely and to conduct his business affairs so that all things are proper and without fault or blame.
In all these things, and more, the writing minister is expected to be a specialist and not just a worker. In their given time, he must discharge each of these responsibilities well and concisely if growth and harmony is to continue. Not only must the writing minister be able to teach through the written word as well as publically, but he must also be able to teach teachers to do the same. He must be able to lead leaders, build organizations, and rectify errors. He must be a student of human nature, a salesman for the gospel, and, above all, a minister of prayer and study.
Perhaps much church and family trouble could be avoided if the sheep were rightly fed. A layperson appreciates being able to approach the sanctuary or comfort of his/her home library during the week, knowing that a writing minister has labored fervently in the Word and in prayer during the writing process and publication of that book that he/she is about to read. He/she is expecting to read a good Bible lesson from divine insight and wisdom. After all, the writing minister is called a minister and, though perhaps he cannot build a house or weld a pipe, no one can excuse him if he cannot write a book while being divinely inspired by the Holy Spirit.
A writing minister must be able to preside. This includes all forms of leadership. Blessed is the writing minister who knows how to lead his readers to worship and Holy Apostolic Christian Living. Certainly this does not mean the ability to pump up an emotional state that leaves the reader exhausted physically and spiritually. To cause a reader to forget their cares, their neighbors, and themselves through exalting Christ is an ability that every writing minister should cultivate and covet. It is pleasing if the writing minister can open the start of a book with the grace and sureness that at once puts the reader at ease.
However, the words written in a book is not the only place a writing minister will preside. The skillful hand of a writing minister can guide board meetings of a church. The average layperson is very grateful when a writing minister occupies a place of attention and leadership if he is able to handle the situation forthrightly with grace and competence.
The Pastoral Concern for an Apostolic Christian Writer
Pastors naturally carry a certain weight of concern and burden for those under their charge, and rightfully so. But for Pastors who have writing ministers under their spiritual leadership there is, often times, an even heavier burden to bear. The Bible speaks of the pastoral concern of the apostle Paul in Acts 20:17-32:
“And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church. And when they were come to him, he said unto them, Ye know, from the first day that I came into Asia, after what manner I have been with you at all seasons, Serving the Lord with all humility of mind, and with many tears, and temptations, which befell me by the lying in wait of the Jews: And how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publically, and from house to house, Testifying both the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there: Save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me. But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God. And now, behold, I know that ye all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more. Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore, watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears. And now brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all the which are sanctified.”
There is no other place in the holy scriptures that give a more touching example of the care a pastor should have for his flock. Every writing minister should diligently seek out a pastor that will care for them and their ministry in a similar fashion as Paul did with the ministers under his charge, namely Timothy. Woe to the writing minister that is found lacking in Godly counsel from a caring and loving pastor.
The writing minister’s work is not dependent upon his natural ability to pen inspiring prose and life touching insights of the principles of God. The apostle Paul explained:
“And I, brethren, when I came to you, come not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness, and in fear; and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God” (I Corinthians 2:1-5).
Paul could have used some great articulated prose and clever words (he was theologically and scholarly educated as you know). He could have interested them with mysterious lessons of wisdom and strange utterances (mind you, he declared that he spoke in tongues more than any of the “super spiritual” and self-righteous). In short, he could have spoken very elegantly and gathered to himself a great company of devout and admiring followers. However, he knew that gathering them to himself and not to Christ would not be spiritually profitable to them.
The ability of a skilled writing minister is not sufficient to produce the smallest outcropping of Christian life. The reason that Paul hid his abilities in weakness and trembling is revealed in the last clause of the quoted passage of scripture: “that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God” (I Corinthians 2:5).
The writing minister, above everything else, must be to the people, a servant. Consider the words of Paul:
“For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more. And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. And this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I might be partaker thereof with you.” (I Corinthians 9:19-23).
Here it seems that human preference was not a thought in the mind of the apostle in his strenuous effort to save and minister to others. He adapted himself, spent himself, and made himself a “servant unto all”. So to, should the writing minister. In other words, if you are writing to the youth your writing should speak to the youth in such away the youth can understand and relate to. If you are writing to the mature then you should adapt your writing in order to speak to the heart of the mature.
The Life of a Writing Minister Can Be a Lonely One
The life of a writing minister is often times a very lonely one, and fraught with many trials. Consider II Corinthians 6:3-10:
“Giving no offence in any thing, that the ministry be not blamed: but in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses, in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours, in watchings, in fastings; by pureness, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindest, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned, by the word of truth, by the power of God, by the amour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left, by honor and dishonor, by evil report and good report: as deceivers, and yet true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.”
There are times when a writing minister must walk absolutely alone, not even taken heed to the advice of his wife, not being able to disclose to his closest friends the burden that crushes his heart. To be a leader is always a bit lonely, but when one is leading is spiritual things, the loneliness seems to be increased 100 fold. For it is impossible for a writing minster to minister to the needs that he does not feel himself, personally. If the shortcomings of his readers are not as a knife in his own heart, it is very likely that he could never come to the heart of the matter.
The qualifications of a writing minister strongly involve his personal life. Consider I Timothy 3:1-7:
“This is a true saying, if a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. A bishop must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober; of good behavior; given to hospitality, apt to teach; not given to wine, no striker; not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler; not covetous; one that ruleth well is own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (for if a man know not how to rule his own house, how should he take care of the church of God?) not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover, he must have a good report of them which our without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.”
These words touch almost every aspect of a minister’s life, from being “blameless” to being a respectable and admired family man and taking care of his own life. These are personal qualifications that a writing minister must expect to live up to, “for if a man not know how to rule his own house [or life], how should he take care of the church of God?” Sometimes the greatest battlefield of a writing minister is within his own soul, where consciousness sits down with human weakness and with righteousness. There eternal issues are decided, that might involve even the writing minister’s ultimate destiny. We should note the warning of Paul to the young preacher, Timothy: “But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.” (I Timothy 6:11-12).
The profession of the writing ministry is one that expands beyond just that of the local congregation and is displayed before even greater abundance of witnesses. It is a good profession, a noble and admirable profession, but one that should tremble the hand of the writing minister every time he sits down to write.
With that said, happy is the writing minister who can make a graceful exit. The prayer of Solomon was that he might know how to go out and to come in before the people. We cannot help but think of the exit of the good soldier Paul:
“I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of the ministry. For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith” (I Timothy 4:1-7).
What more gracious words can be said at the end of a remarkable writing minister’s closing day? Just a few hours before the late W. T. Witherspoon left this earth to go and forever be with the Lord, he said these words: “It is not the messenger that is important, it is the message that he carries. The messenger must perish, but the message will go on.”
He who wants to write/preach better be trembling when he says it – tremble for the glory of the battle between human weakness and Godly righteousness within the writer’s mind, and tremble for the demand of the task.
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