I am writing this at 10.53pm on a Thursday evening. I am tired and sleepy but I need to get this done because we send out this weekly ecommentary every Friday. I seriously doubt that I can write this tomorrow because tomorrow will be a full day. As was today. Many times this year, and maybe for sometime now, it has been a challenge to get the weekly ecommentary out. Often, it felt like a burden. I am not sure I can continue like this or even that I should.
Things were very different when I first started writing a weekly reflection to be sent via email about 20 years ago. I had lost a wife to cancer and a subsequent marriage had broken down. As a divorcee I had lost most of my public ministry. I was trying to raise two boys on my own and not doing very well. I also had had a bout of depression. I went through two years of church discipline when I had no public ministry and even after that period was over I had few ministry invitations.
What it all meant was that I had lots of time on my hands. I would wake up every morning and read The Star (a Malaysian daily paper) while eating a leisurely breakfast. The rest of the week? Well, maybe I had one speaking engagement at some small group, binge watched some X-Files, ferried the boys to various school activities and to tuition — and wrote my weekly column.
I started writing my weekly reflection for two reasons. First, I wrote it for myself. Writing was an attempt to make sense of a life that had gone horribly wrong. I also discovered that as I processed my life, it helped others to process theirs too. And though I was banned from many pulpits, no one stopped people from reading their emails.
But that was a long time ago. Life is very different now. The Lord has restored my life and ministry. Indeed in the last year or so, the work of Graceworks has increased significantly, both in the publishing and in the mentoring departments. Our days are full. Added to that are the growing needs of my mother in Penang. She is 91, suffers from dementia, and recently had a fall that broke her hip. What it all means is that life is very full. And getting a respectable column out once a week is a challenge, often a struggle. So how?
Maybe it is time to call it a day. It has been a good run but it is time to give attention to other ministries so it is time to retire the weekly commentary.
Or make the column purely occasional. I will only write when there is some issue that really needs to be addressed. In other words, it will no longer be a weekly.
Maybe we should get a bigger stable of writers. Bernice writes once in a while, often to help me out when I am particularly swamped. Everybody loves it when she writes. As a dear friend commented, Bernice writes better than I do, whereas I write like I speak, which is not a bad thing I think. But Bernice is even busier than I am, so she can’t be taking over too many slots either. So maybe it is time to identify and empower more writers. I’m more than happy to do that. What it means is that instead of writing, I would have to spend time editing what others have written, which is a challenge too.
Of course I could make the ecommentary a priority and I could set aside two days a week to meditate, research, and write the column. That means a lot of other ministry commitments will have to go.
Perhaps we should change the format all together. Maybe every week I should send out a 1- to 2-minute video clip that addresses some contemporary issue. I find it much easier to speak than to write. The video could also be uploaded on YouTube, which would give it a different life and impact.
So, my friends, what should I do? WWJD? What would Jesus do? What would Jesus have me do? I was teaching a course in Wesley recently and, during a break, as I was making my way back to the class, I met a woman whom I didn’t know. She paused, looked at me, and asked: “Are you the one who writes the weekly Graceworks ecommentary?” I said I was. She then told me how much they had helped her. Augh! That’s not helping. And I remembered what Eugene Peterson said, that a key reason why pastors are busy is vanity. Sigh.