Last week I discussed the influence we, as writers, hold over others. Like it or not, that puts us in a leadership position. Whether you blog, write books, or do both, you are a leader. Your writing holds influence. Whether your platform is massive or has ten followers, you are a leader. People read your words.
And your words hold power over others.
The Bible is clear about the ramifications of leadership failure. Matthew 18:6 says, “[W]hoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea”.
Yes, leaders have it hard, and God will hold us to higher standards because we possess the potential to lead others astray. Let me be clear on this: we have no control over those who follow us. We cannot control what they believe, say, or do. If they’re nasty, that’s not on us. What this speaks of is knowingly encouraging others to follow or believe that which is contrary to God’s word.
With all this pressure – not matter your platform’s size – how can we be good leaders? As writers, we won’t necessarily be physically meeting in groups and giving grand speeches that will captivate our listeners and followers, but our written words hold just as much power.
Perhaps even more.
So, with this unavoidable role of influence, how can we be good leaders? Here are nine ways.
ONE: Be Wise as Serpents and Innocent as Doves
The beginning of this verse says, “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves”. How true this is. We are lights amidst darkness. Voices of truth amongst lies.
As writers who lead others (whether intentionally or unintentionally), we are to be wise, calculating, and always on guard. Where I live, rattlesnakes abound. Since you can’t carry a shovel around everywhere you go and firing guns in city limits is illegal, one must to be on guard, alert, and aware when walking the paths, fishing, traipsing through brush and field, or preparing to go out on the lake.
Likewise, we must be alert and prepared for the enemy’s schemes.
These schemes come in all shapes and forms, including people. The agendas pushed by culture and society are lies. Anything that goes against the Bible is of Satan. Anything. Most come in acronyms, abbreviations, or symbols; some of these symbols are stolen from the Bible. It’s impossible not to have at least one of these things come to mind, since they’re so rampant and have easily ravaged some of the Church and taken it captive. Some of the well-known music groups played often on Christian radio are either off the narrow path or heretical altogether (three of the main ones are listed in Your Writing Influence, Part One). Same goes for many of the well-known preachers and teachers, some of whom are also listed in the aforementioned post.
Keep in mind Colossians 2:8: See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.
That is what to guard against. It’s not an easy task, and can be wearying, but we can do so by being wise. The Bible has much to say regarding wisdom, and much of it comes from King Solomon. Here are some of the multitude of verses:
Blessed is the one who finds wisdom, and the one who gets understanding, for the gain from her is better than gain from silver and her profit better than gold. She is more precious than jewels, and nothing you desire can compare with her […] She is a tree of life to those who lay hold of her; those who hold her fast are called blessed. – Proverbs 3:13-18
Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time. – Ephesians 5:15-16a
Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. – Proverbs 3:7
The wise man seeks understanding, watches how he walks and conducts himself, and fears the Lord. Wisdom is invaluable; there is no earthly treasure that can compare to wisdom’s worth. This is why it is so important we seek wisdom, dear writers. Not only for our followers’ sake, but ours, as well. We do not seek it in selfish attempts to gain worthless knowledge or so we might somehow reap a blessing from such a false act. We seek it because we desire knowledge, understanding, and wisdom, which God, in His mercy and grace, will give us when we seek with pure, honest hearts.
Though seeking wisdom, we will gain wisdom. God will open our hearts and eyes and to the wolves who shroud themselves in “Christian” attire.
Seeking wisdom will also increase our understanding of God’s Word. When others are following you, this is mandatory. We use allegories, Bible stories, Bible verses, and Biblical themes in our books and blogs. We best know what they really mean.
This will allow us to become innocent as doves – leading our followers with the best intentions, which can only come from a humble heart and knowledge of God’s Word. We will be able to turn our backs on what is evil and embrace what is good, which encourages our followers to do the same.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight. – Proverbs 9:10
Leadership Skill: Wisdom
TWO: Learn from Biblical Leaders.
The best leadership examples are found in the Bible. Before I get to that list, here are some wonderful Christian leaders, both alive and dead, we can learn from. Remember: Hold everything and everyone to the Bible, no matter if that person is a respected figure of faith.
John MacArthur and Vodie Bachmann, two current leaders who are unafraid to stand against culture’s lies. Pastors Gabriel Hughes, Tom Buck, and Tommy Nelson are three others.
Polycarp, Justin Martyr, and the uncountable number of persecuted Christians who held firm to their faith even though they could escape painful death if they renounced it. Wycliffe, Huss, Amy Carmichael, George Whitfield, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, Jonathan Edwards, and so many others who boldly proclaimed God’s Word. Some of them died for it.
The Biblical leaders include: Deborah; Joshua; Jonathan (my favorite); David; Peter;James; John; Paul; Daniel (another favorite); Hannaniah, Mishael, and Azariah (also known as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abendago); and both major and minor prophets.
Like Deborah, lead even when others are hesitant. Like Joshua, pledge your faith and allegiance to God alone. Like Jonathan, obey God over man no matter the consequences. Like David, go where God leads you. Like the apostles, stay strong in the truth and take God’s Word to heart. Like Daniel and the three, realize God puts us where we are for a reason. And, like the prophets, speak truth with boldness and assurance, even if it goes against popular opinion.
There are many more I could list. Some of these attributes come more naturally to us than others, and that’s okay. If we study those who came before us, we can learn how to be effective leaders walking in the light. Not only will it strengthen your walk with God, it will encourage and bless your readers, as well.
My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments, for length of days and years of life and peace they will add to you. Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart. So you will find favor and good success in the sight of God and man. Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Proverbs 3:1-6
Leadership Skill: Attributes of a Godly leader.
THREE: Be a Berean.
“Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true” – Acts 17:11.
Compare everything to Scripture. Take nothing anyone says, no matter how trusted, for granted. Do not assume they speak truth. This goes for any blogger (myself included), writer, author, teacher, leader, and whoever else is in a leadership position.
Question every word you hear, every word you sing, every word you speak, every word you read.
When we follow the example of the Bereans, which is not always easy to do, we fortify our hearts, minds, and faith against the enemy’s attacks. This requires knowledge of the Bible and being in constant prayer. When we do this, we run less risk of leading our followers astray.
For more on the Bereans, check out this post.
And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ. – Philippians 1:9-10
Leadership Skill: Discernment.
FOUR: Be Humble.
I’m going to be blunt. If you’re tempted to think, by your own merit and abilities, you’ve acquired such a grand following, published a book (or many), or are well-known in the writing/blogging communities, don’t.
On your own, you’re not that good.
It is through God’s grace we have this ability to write and weave words. It is through God’s grace we have the following we have. Ten, fifty, one hundred, doesn’t matter. It’s all from God.
Our words, this way of reaching the world for Him, is a gift, and not one we gave ourselves.
We’re human. We screw up. We ruin everything despite our best attempts. There’s no way we would succeed if not for God. Remember, pride comes before a fall. Destruction follows a haughty spirit. We would destroy our writing career if not for God.
Besides, who likes an arrogant leader? They take all the credit for themselves and never give credit where it’s due. They thank no one. They believe they’re the king of their little writing mountain. Such negative attributes drive away followers and, in turn, dwindle sales and platform size.
Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. – 1 Corinthians 10:12
Leadership Skill: Humility.
FIVE: Ask Questions.
One thing I love about the four-though-six-year-old age group is they ask questions. With eagerness. With the expectation they’ll be answered. And if they aren’t they’ll ask, and ask, and ask until they get their answer. They’re ready to learn. Everything is a wonder, a marvel.
Fellow writers, we need to be like this. Be eager to learn from the writers and authors who have paved the path for us. Get in social media writing groups. Take classes and courses. Right now, I’m in the King’s Daughters Writing Camp, and it’s amazing, the knowledge others have. Take advantage of those who know more than you do (and there will always be someone smarter and more knowledgeable than you).
When we ask questions, we learn. Our followers likely have knowledge we don’t yet possess. When they see us asking questions – those they think are doing well in their blogging/writing careers – they are encouraged to do so as well. Show your followers you too are human and have things to learn.
I am your servant; give me understanding, that I may know your testimonies! – Psalm 119:125
Leadership Skill: The necessity of learning.
SIX: Be a Mentor
I’m not saying put aside everything to answer questions from younger writers/bloggers. Instead, when you see a writer post a question on social media, answer it to the best of your ability. Even if you aren’t published yet, chances are you have more experience than they do. Be willing to impart the knowledge you’ve gained.
Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance. – Proverbs 1:5
Leadership Skill: Mentoring
SEVEN: Conduct Yourself in a Manner Worthy of Your Calling
Every writer will stumble across an article, blog post, or social media post they disagree with. When this happens, we need to remember Who we represent. If you decide to refute the post, do so in a kind, Godly manner. We are lights amidst darkness, fellow writers, but we do not shine when we lower ourselves to the world’s standards and take on their methods of disagreement. Our readers are watching how we respond.
A Christian conservative author posted a political post on social media last year. Though fiery and staunch, she was respectful in the way she worded and supported her beliefs. Several commenters politely and respectfully disagreed. Another author came along, got offended, and blasted this author. Many of the this author’s readers saw her method of response; as a result, the author’s platform shrank and the amount of loyal readers diminished. The issue wasn’t that she disagreed, it was how she reacted. She lost them due to her hateful response.
Disagreeing is fine. Civil discourse over disagreement is healthy. It is when we embrace knee-jerk reactions and follow the world’s standard that we fall into the wrong. When you disagree with someone and deem it necessary to respond, do so in a Christlike manner. Gently, but firmly, lay out your argument. Provide facts from reputable sources. We need to refute topics like abortion and LGBTQ and others that directly call for immorality contrary to God’s Word. We cannot cower from stating the truth simply because we fear societal and cultural retribution. We must do this in an upstanding way: direct, gentle, unflinching, resolute, and armed with God’s Truth. They need to see we are different from the rest.
Do not sacrifice truth for peace, your testimony for worldly acceptance, and your conscience for fitting in with the crowd.
There are many topic to disagree on, and you’ll never fully agree with anyone. We need to handle disagreement in a way that provides truth and points to Whom we serve and follow.
Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; Keep watch over the door of my lips. – Psalm 141:3
For I am not ashamed of the gospel. – Romans 1:16a
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. – Romans 12:2
I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love. – Ephesians 4:1-2
Leadership Skill: Civility
EIGHT: Remember to Whom Your Writing Belongs
Our writing – the words we weave, the tales we tell, and the posts we create – is not our own. It belongs to God, the one who granted us the love of writing. Before you apply fingertips to keyboard or pencil to paper, give your writing to God. As Him to give you the words that need writing, the message that needs sharing. This not only strengthens our walk and faith, but helps us craft our writing according to God’s Word. We need to write in truth, and we can only do that when we focus our attention on Christ. When we do this, we lessen the risk of leading others astray.
Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established. – Proverbs 16:3
You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. – Isaiah 26:3
Leadership Skill: Surrendering Control
NINE: Let Your Light Shine
Remember the song, “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine”? That is our ultimate goal, dear writers. To glorify our Creator and let our lights shine against the world’s darkness. Delve into the Word so that the words we speak may point to Him and our actions brand us Christians. Be strong in your message. Be unafraid to proclaim the greatness of our Lord and Savior. Be bold in spreading truth.
You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. – Matthew 5: 14-16
Walk as children of light. – Ephesians 5:8
That you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. – Philippians 2:15-16
I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. – John 15:5
Leadership Skill: Boldness
We writers are leaders. Whether you like it or not, your writing influences others. It is not an easy task, but it is a gift God has given you. Hold fast to truth. Stand firm in the faith. Be a beacon, drawing others in as they see the difference between us and the world. Pray for guidance. Walk in assurance and confidence that “the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who is not partial and takes no bribe” (Deuteronomy 10:17).
Be fearless in leading, dear writer.
As we conclude this segment of “A Reminder for Writers”, I want to leave you with these verses to chew on and gain assurance and comfort from:
For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline. – 2 Timothy 1:7
Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually! – 1 Chronicles 16:11
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. – Philippians 4:8
A REMINDER FOR WRITERS SERIES