As I write for this week’s sermon, I often find myself undecided as to whether writing is indeed a talent of mine. On one hand, I feel that my thoughts are expressed better through writing than speaking. On another hand, I fall into bouts of panic and self-doubt when it comes time again for me to write. Self-deprecating thoughts of my plain boring style and most importantly, doubt as to whether I can deliver a quality piece that honours God always springs up to the fore.
In an odd way, writing something down, whether in bullet points or a fully formed sentence, has been a way of coping with my ineffective impromptu delivery through speech. After one important presentation, I was given a coaching moment, as a senior manager called it, that I have a keen mind and have powerful command of any given situation, but people may find it difficult to catch up. I was told this was because at any one moment, 3 different threads of thoughts were coming out of my mouth. I have been asked to slow down and pace my words as well as my thoughts. Ouch!
Looking back, writing was not something I discovered by accident. Then I saw it as a cruel way a manager seek to torture me by assigning me to write monthly technical articles for a newsletter. You see, this manager had a past grudge for something I did, and this was, I believe, a way to cold storage me. I was not allowed to do anything else but this one task. The experience was one of excruciating torture – one publication would take 7 to 8 iterations to which directions kept changing. I was told that I often wrote paragraphs of confusing gibberish with key points lost in translation. I was told that I was pedantic i.e. repetitive and using a lot of words to say something simple. Over time, I found myself developing systems and techniques that helped me gain clarity on the points I wish to put across and to better sequence them. One funny thing I found myself doing at that 7th or 8th revamp was that of squinting an eye and using the other eye to read a paragraph. If I can still make out what it says, it is no longer pedantic.
Some simple adage given by this manager stuck to me to this day – “one article, one key message”. And another – “tell them what you want to tell them, tell them and then tell them what you told them.”
I am still undecided as to whether I am truly gifted as a writer but this I have come to know – that God has given each of us innate abilities, experiences, temperament and even quirks that make us each unique. It is by His grace that we are often thrust into uncomfortable situations that teaches us to use both the melting pot of strengths and yes, even our perceived weaknesses for the glory of God. God works most freely when we surrender all to him and step out to risk it all.