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Writer, Treat Your Words as Offerings 

Before Thanksgiving, the high school writers’ workshop I teach concluded the semester with “cookies and Q&A.” Students put aside their writing assignments, and instead of unpacking excerpts from the Puritans, we munched snickerdoodles and talked about the more granular details of the writerly life.

A talented group of writers, the students had prepared long lists of questions about world-building and outlining, character development, theme, and the enigmatic mechanics of publishing. I navigated the tangle of inquiries as best as I could, but after a half hour of unraveling the details of revisions, beta readers, and platform, a concern nagged me. In focusing on the minutiae, had I steered these young, eager minds away from the most important principle of all?

“Before we go any further,” I said, holding a hand up and trying to ignore the flush of shame that warmed my cheeks, “the single best piece of advice I can give you is something I learned from my pastor. If you learn nothing else from this class, please remember this one thing: approach every piece of writing as an offering to the Lord.”

Pearl of Pastoral Wisdom

If you love to write, you know the craft is an exercise in weathering crests and falls. An irresistible spark of inspiration propels you to the keyboard, but when your words topple onto the page, they lean off-kilter. The scene you grasped so brilliantly in your mind stumbles out in a mess of elbows and knees, a cheap replica of the elegance you’d envisioned. When your piece finally hobbles into the world as a mere shadow of what you’d imagined, the worry sets in: Will people misunderstand you? Will you offend anyone? Are you wasting your time?

Approach every piece of writing as an offering to the Lord.

It was during one such moment of anxiety that my pastor offered me his words of wisdom. Over cups of coffee in my living room, I wrung my shirtsleeve like a dishrag and voiced my fear that my most recent work would let down my friends and colleagues. What if I’d failed miserably?

He didn’t pause in his answer: “Your work is an offering to the Lord, and your job is to walk as faithfully as you can with what you have to offer,” he said. “What the Lord chooses to do with the finished product is according to his will, not yours.”

Since that conversation on a drab winter’s evening, I’ve cleaved to these words during moments of burnout, doubt, and exhaustion. They’ve infused me with new strength when I’ve been bone weary. And they’ve freed me to approach each new project with joy, knowing that any good that arises from my scribblings is by God’s doing, not my own.

Steward Your Words

When we consider each written piece as an offering to the Lord, writing transforms into an act of stewardship. The impulse to sculpt our observations into coherent sentences takes on new heft, blooming from a private delight into a ministry in which we “work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men” (Col. 3:23). When viewed through the lens of offering, solitary hours spent clacking away on a keyboard become vehicles not for our personal indulgence, nor for our acclaim, but for his glory.

As well they should, as this love of wordsmithing—this urge to translate what we see and feel into language and somehow preserve the essence—is a generous gift from God, not of our own making (Rom. 12:3). Having received from the Lord a heart for words, we’re not to squander it for ourselves but rather to pour it out in service to his people (12:6–8). We’re to “do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Col. 3:17). We’re to provide an offering with all our heart (Matt. 22:37) and craft sentences, however meager, that he may not spurn.

Remain in God’s Word

To write as an offering requires we tether ourselves to Scripture. “Look at the Word, and look at the world, in a quest to see God as marvelous,” John Piper recommended during a writer’s summit last summer. “Cultivate a capacity to see what is there, and to savor what you see. It is more likely you will find heart-awakening words if you are awake yourself.”

We remain awake to God’s work in the world when we hold tightly to Scripture, as we train ourselves to reflect on what matters to him and to set our minds on whatever is true, honorable, and lovely (Phil. 4:8). Whether we write nonfiction, novels, poetry, or children’s stories, we aim to speak the truth in love with greater clarity and precision (Eph. 4:15). “For the word of God is living and active,” writes the author of Hebrews, “sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Heb. 4:12).

To write for the Lord, we must allow his words to guide ours. We must illuminate our own words with the true lamp to our feet and light to our path (Ps. 119:105).

Release Your Work to God

Two months after my pastor’s encouraging words, I received a letter from a young reader about the same piece over which I’d so agonized. At just the right time, in ways I never could have fathomed, the Lord worked through that book to uphold her during a time of sorrow and need. My work was imperfect, but God’s grace abounded.

Writing is a vulnerable calling. We shakily offer a piece of our heart to the world, and as social media spawns criticism like so many hatched flies, we cringe before festering reminders that we’re not good enough. Because the truth is, we’re not. We’re finite and fallen, and the work we create and shape with our own hands will always flaunt cracks. It will always reflect our brokenness.

My work was imperfect, but God’s grace abounded.

And yet our God is the One who redeems. Through Christ, he takes the scarlet stains of our sins and makes them white as snow (Isa. 1:18). He takes our brittle and crumbling works and molds them into mountains.

Writers, approach your work as an offering. Even as we arduously strive with pen in hand to reflect God’s goodness, and even as our desperate efforts fall short, we need not be anxious (Matt. 6:25; Phil. 4:6). Rather than succumb to dismay, turn your work over to him. He’ll do with it what he will, and any good that comes from it will be by his work, not yours (Gen. 50:20; Rom. 8:28).

Aim to transcribe what’s true, good, and pure. And know that when you fail, the Lord can take your broken pieces and assemble them into something lovely and whole—for his glory and not for your own.


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