Write that down

By Gerry Lewis | Published Saturday, June 9, 2018

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Write it down: Pencil tip clarity.

“Thoughts disentangle themselves passing over the lips and through pencil tips.”

“I don’t know what I think about that because I haven’t blogged on it yet.”

Both of those quotes come from leadership guru Michael Hyatt. The first is a phrase that he often quotes. The second is something I heard him say on his podcast when someone asked him his thoughts on a subject.

I get it.

I often – in fact, I would say most often – do my best thought processing through writing.

Scenario 1: I receive a question via email. I’ve never really gone deeply into the topic before. I begin composing an answer that ends up being five hundred words long with six identifiable bullet points after forty-five minutes of thinking and typing. Now, I have a well-thought-out answer for the next time the question comes up. I may also have a future blog post or teaching tool.

Scenario 2: Some random thought occurs (maybe sparked by a conversation or something I read). I think it’s a good topic for a blog post. I begin typing and processing my thoughts through my fingers. I not only get a blog post, but perhaps the seed for a chapter of a future book.

I have spent the last 34 days not writing anything except my daily journal of my sabbatical renewal leave. No blogs. No email answers. No sermons, studies or devotionals. Nothing for public consumption. Just me, God, my Bible and my life.

And I rediscovered the unique – and I really mean unique – power of journaling. I’m not talking about a to-do list where you check off your accomplishments at the end of the day or a record of everything you did. I’m talking about unpacking your life and how God is involved in it, even when all you can write are your questions about what in the world He is doing.

Honestly, nothing comes close to writing down your thoughts on life. And I do mean writing. Pen and paper. I’m a technology fanatic and prefer all forms of electronic communication. My handwriting is atrocious! I sometimes have to do a double-take to decipher what I wrote myself.

But it is also magically and mysteriously wonderful to capture those initial, unedited and unrefined thoughts on paper without having to tie a pretty bow on it at the end or land the plane and drive it into the hangar. A journaled day can remain unwrapped and still circling the airfield.

I have read five books over the past five weeks. One of them, written by Henri J.M. Nouwen, was his journal of a year-long sabbatical which proved to be the final year of his life. He died of a heart attack one month after his return from sabbatical. As a Catholic priest, Nouwen’s take on some things differed greatly from mine as a Baptist, but I learned from him how to journal with raw vulnerability before the Lord.

I will allow a very small and select group of people to read my sabbatical journal. But everyone who encounters me will benefit from the time I spent (and will continue to spend) processing these days and the days going forward.

Your life – your one and only amazing journey – matters to God, my friend. Write that down somewhere where you can read it again and again.

Dr. Gerry Lewis, author, blogger, church consultant and leadership coach, serves as executive director of the Harvest Baptist Association in Decatur.

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