While we must not abandon book projects or writing for magazines, we also must not overlook the opportunity to make an immediate impact through writing for our hometown and regional newspapers. Remember, most magazines have a lead time of six months or longer, but newspapers print what is news - now.
Someone has said that the editorial page is the most read section of the newspaper. It is here that we have the privilege and responsibility to be a representative of the Lord Jesus (Col. 3:17). It is here that we can be "salt and light" in a world that is growing increasingly dark as we:
1. Know the One we’re seeking to represent. We need to pray over our writing and remember that prayer is not just talking to God but also listening for His answer. We need to search the Scriptures to find His perspective on what is happening. Resisting the temptation to proof text, we need to instead commit ourselves to "correctly analyzing and accurately dividing . . . the Word of Truth" (2 Tim. 2:15 amp).
2. Be careful not to hit our readers over the head with the Bible. While it is God’s Word that convicts and changes lives, one or two short quotes that directly speak to the issue we are addressing will make more of an impact than multiple long quotes. We need to avoid King James English unless we’re quoting a verse that is most familiar in the KJV. And remember, although the Word of God is the "sword of the Spirit" (Eph. 6:17), we need to wield it in love.
3. Know our subject. There’s no better way to blow our credibility than to present fuzzy or distorted facts. We need to take the time to find out what we’re talking about. But remember, while we need to be informed, we also need to guard against becoming consumed by the events happening in our world. Limiting the time we spend in front of the television or our computer screen getting the latest news will help us not to become so overwhelmed emotionally.
4. Know and respect our readers. Don’t talk down to them or judge them for having a viewpoint different than ours. Aim to be "gracious as well as sensible, for then [we] will have the right answer for everyone" (Col. 4:6 tlb).
5. Be compassionate and sensitive. We need to put ourselves in the shoes of those who have lost loved ones and recognize that pat answers and religious clichés will only push them away from the Lord when they need Him the most.
6. Guard our hearts. The horror of the attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon will always remain with us. We have reason to be angry, but we must be careful not to allow anger to "gain control over [us] . . . for anger gives a mighty foothold to the Devil" (Eph. 4:26-27 nlt ). We need cool heads and quiet hearts if we are to write for the Lord.
7. Provide hope and reassurance that God has not abandoned us. "His life is the light that shines through the darkness—and the darkness can never extinguish it" (John 1:5 tlb). "Nothing can ever separate us from his love" (Rom. 8:38 nlt). "God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble" (Psalm 46:1 nlt). We need to cling to His promises and share them with our readers - not just through the editorial pages of our newspapers but through the numerous discussion groups on the Internet where all too often Christianity is not accurately presented. We can make a difference!