What’s the Value in a Word?

So, you don’t want another blog out there, huh? Well, neither do I. So, don’t read my blog and I won’t read yours. And we’ll all be happy, mkay?

Anyway, back to me. Me, and why I should write, despite some of the mental hurdles I’ve had to combat along the way. Beyond the issue of escaping a false dilemma, there’s something more positive to consider as well. Namely, the intrinsic difference in value between that of reading and that of writing.

You see, even if you never read this, the reality is that I still wrote it. And that’s something. It has very real intrinsic value, even if it’s not the same kind of value as that of reading something by someone else (who really knows how to write).

I remember going through the same process of thought as a teenager before eventually deciding to learn to play the guitar. Why would I strum my clumsy chords when there was already seriously good music out there? Why would I waste my time playing, when I could be listening?! Well, I suppose there was always the thought that I just might be the next Jimi Hendrix! Hmmm, maybe. This definitely appealed to my strong delusions of grandeur–for a season.  But delusions are easily shattered. If I’m not mistaken, my Hendrix-delusion lasted a total of 2 days. No. If there was any hope of long-term effort, I would need something more. Back to my friend, clear-thinking.

Here’s a fairly abstract sentence for you: I eventually came to realize that I was collapsing into one, what is actually two. That is, I eventually came to understand that learning and listening are not the same thing. They are different things, with different values. Listening to Knopfler let his soul ooze through the Stratocaster is truly among the most profound things I have experienced in this life; but it is nevertheless completely different from me learning to play the guitar. While my own strumming of those basic guitar-chords was perhaps not as, ahem, aesthetically profound as that of the Hendrix-experience, it did nevertheless serve to develop me in ways that listening to Knopfler or Hendrix, never could.

So, back to writing then. As convinced as I am regarding the importance of reading, I need to remember the value of writing (or, learning to write) as a ‘different thing’. This helps me to press on, because even if my writing never amounts to anything, it is of massive value in terms my own self-improvement. This is especially the case as it relates to my vocation as a pastor. Concerning the development of a pastor’s mind, I once heard it said that, “reading maketh the full man, speaking maketh the quick man, and writing maketh the exact man”. I have found this to be so very true. And in many ways, I already live by this mantra. Every week I write my sermon in full, even though I know that I will disregard the manuscript when preaching. I write it out because of the unique value that it brings to my preparation process. I know this value experientially. I know the clarity (and ‘exactness’) that this process brings to my thinking.  And while this is not the only value in writing, it is in my mind one very tangible example of it.

Bringing all of this together then, it makes sense that I add a time of focused ‘writing’ to my weekly routine of ‘reading’ and ‘speaking’. And when I hear the call of those mighty authors on my bookshelf, beckoning me to stop my silly blogging and instead point my reader to a truly worthwhile experience, I need to remind myself of these things. There is value in reading. There is value in writing. They are different values. Both are truly valuable. And…at the end of the day, it’s not all about you, dear reader.

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