I remember when I first realized that I loved to write.
I was in high school, and I had a newfound fascination with the Bible—especially Biblical prophecy—and it dawned on me that I had, somehow, unexpectedly, developed a love for writing.
Growing up with a passion for sports, my first desire was to be a sports broadcaster—that is, if I did not make it as a professional athlete. But, come to think of it, even back then, every once in a while I would dream of writing a sports column.
But as plans for life became more realistic and my love for Scripture became more intense, the place of writing came into much clearer focus in my life. I even thought of majoring in journalism in college.
I did not end up pursuing that path—although my life would circle completely around back to it several years later. Through an array of circumstances, I was in the place of looking for a job and found one in the news business. I ended up staying there for 14 years, working as a small-town news reporter and editor. Along with giving me the chance to do lots of writing, that time proved to be tremendously educational in my life. I learned so much about writing and editing, technology and photography, business and government, and life in general.
And the Lord used that experience to lead me through other doors which would not have been open to me apart from it. Because of my background in writing, editing and reporting, I have had numerous opportunities to do all kinds of things in ministry that I would never have been asked to do otherwise. I also think that this background added a new dimension to my ministry—allowing me to see things from another perspective, and just sharpening my skills in general.
One thing I couldn’t do much of when I was working at the newspaper, however, was to write about things just because they were of interest to me. Instead, I had to learn to be curious about the things that came across my desk that other people found interesting. I came to enjoy that as well, and profited from the experience. Yet, at the end of the day, I would dream and long for the day when I could write exclusively about the things I wanted to write about—as probably every real writer does.
This weekly column is sort of the last vestige that reminds me of my old news career. But I enjoy this so much more because I do get to write about the things that I love. If you read it regularly you know that some of my articles are lighter and personal—like this one. Some of them are devotional in quality. Then I will write whole doctrinal series. Others are based on interviews. I also love to write about holidays and church history.
Writing is powerful. Think about it—the greatest sermon, even if it is recorded and distributed widely, bears a fleeting quality. The words, to truly be captured, have to be written down. When something is written, there is a permanence to it.
Sometimes I will take a sermon, or a sermon series, and encapsulate it into an article—providing all the Scripture references and attempting to state all my points as clearly and concisely as possible. This gives the message enduring usefulness. No one can misunderstand at least that which I have stated clearly. I can always point people to the written version for clarity, even when I am preaching on the subject.
The most essential part of writing is to have something important to say. Writing is extremely difficult when you are required to produce something and don’t really know where to begin. For good or for bad, that never seems to be much of an issue for me! But writing also brings with it a great deal of responsibility, especially in our online world. Once something is sent, it is difficult, if not impossible, to recall. Therefore, I had better be careful about what I write, and certain it is trustworthy and true (see James 3:1).
There is a real satisfaction that comes from writing something that you believe truly hits the mark in the way you intended. Ecclesiastes 12:11 states: “The words of the wise are like goads, and the words of scholars are like well-driven nails, given by one Shepherd.”
One thing I love about my position with The Friends of Israel is the opportunity to minister in many different contexts and reach out to people through many different means. Going back to my childhood dreams, I’ve come full circle. I have the privilege of writing about things that I love. And, yes, I even have the opportunity to be on the radio sometimes.
God has truly blessed me with “the desires of [my] heart” (Ps. 37:4) in these ways. And He has also equipped me for the opportunity to utilize media and technology effectively—which will become even more crucial within ministry in the days ahead.
May He always help me to drive the nails in straight and flush!
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Paul J. Scharf (M.A., M.Div., Faith Baptist Theological Seminary) is a church ministries representative for The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry, based in Columbus, WI, and serving in the Midwest. For more information on his ministry, visit sermonaudio.com/pscharf or foi.org/scharf, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.