Mask. No mask.
Black lives. All lives.
These arguments weave the backdrop of our daily American existence.
Truthfully, most people aren’t easily defined by one extreme or another. There are thousands of nuances that make up a mind, a heart, a soul. Yet right now we’re living in a mighty polarized country in which neighbors are attacking neighbors—if not with tangible weapons then with words splattered across social media. Opinions spouted at the grocery store, the soccer field, the sidewalk. Criticism and complaining breed faster than any virus.
So what does that mean for us, the writers? We dedicate our craft to speaking into other people’s lives, whether by blogging or podcasting or writing books, you name it. And the current climate can seem paralyzing. What can we possibly say that won’t offend or alienate half our audience? Are we willing to put ourselves out there like targets, or is it easier just to wait for this mess to blow over?
It might never blow over.
But we should never let fear keep us from speaking up.
So for those of you who, like me, wonder what in the world we could possibly say or write to make a difference—or to avoid the landmines—during this super charged time in social history, here are three principles to hold tightly. Even when the rest of the world seems to be falling apart.
- Think before you speak. Are you crafting and purveying an intentional message, or are your words a knee-jerk reaction to someone else’s commentary? Can you add something valuable to the conversation? Are your words designed to unify? To encourage? Let’s not compound the problem by piling on more emotional noise. We don’t need to sidestep controversial topics, but we do need to address them with purpose, dignity, and kindness.
“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” (Colossians 4:6)
- Point to God’s words more than your own. If we keep the conversation focused on gospel truth, then anyone who objects will have to take up their argument with God, not just with you. There are two caveats to this, however. First, let’s make sure we’re representing Scripture accurately. Read your commentaries. Consult wise counselors and theologians. Don’t be a Scripture twister. And second, wield the Bible like a paintbrush—poised to transform gently with color and clarity—rather than a hammer, which is only good for banging holes in the wall. Nobody likes to get beat over the head with your Bible. Be an encourager, not a Bible bully.
“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” (Proverbs 15:1)
- Talk about something else. It’s okay to write about subjects other than coronavirus, politics, or racial tension. In fact, most of us have built entire platforms on topics that, while affected by the social climate, are still good and necessary even amidst the tension. If you’re a food blogger, people still need to eat. A parenting blogger, well, moms still need your tips for how to manage bickering kids and whip up summer crafts. If you write books or record podcasts or teach Bible studies, we still need whatever you were going to tell us before 2020 blew up in our faces. And we still value your insight on how to handle life in the middle of the electric atmosphere. Life goes on. And we need God-honoring voices speaking into it on all things ordinary and exceptional. So let’s keep writing, friends. We really are in this together.
“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9)
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