The Story Behind My Public Apology
Apparently my previous post was confusing, and after some gracious readers gave me some feedback, I can see why. I am ashamed to admit I published it in haste, without any editorial review. What a rookie move.
First off, I was not trying to apologize for my writing. Instead of apologizing for the bad parts, I should thank God for the good of what He is doing in my life: for continuing to heal me, mature me, and give me a clearer understanding of His calling for writers and leaders. Many of my readers have found help in my writing and I am thankful for that. What I was trying to do was confess to some failings, and the reason is because I am about to launch into a series of posts that are critical on the field and discipline of writing. Kierkegaard said confession is the antidote to hypocrisy—so before I go pointing fingers, let me give a confession of my regrets.
I only have one, actually. I regret the times when my writing served me more than my readers.
That happened when I promoted the darkness. While it’s true, most of my writing ends with happy endings and Scripture as Truth, sometimes my tongue was in my cheek. My life was very difficult, and I was writing with the primary focus of authenticity and honesty. I was in the VICE, and sometimes that made my writing dark and my tone a little emotional and pathetic. We all need time to vent in order to heal, but I regret the times my venting promoted the darkness.
I also regret the writing that bullied people. I think writing is supposed to serve the reader, but sometimes I wrote to serve myself—to get stuff off my chest and vent. When you're suffering you want people to know how bad it is and what they are missing: you want vindication. And you want to communicate your experience, and that's hard to do without sounding like a kid yelling at his parents: “You just don't get it!” Sometimes, instead of using writing to lead, I was using it to guilt-trip. And that's the worst.
So instead of apologizing, let me just make that small confession before we launch. What I am going to argue is this: there is a subset of (Christian) writers who value authenticity and honesty over everything, and they are polluting the type readers they attract (typically the more intellectual and experienced) with a value system that undermines the Truth and weakens the entire structure of the Christian worldview, and I feel compelled as if by force to call them out, to point them on to the path that—deep down—they are really searching for.
Please hear me say: I don't have it all figured out—by any means!—and I'm still not Mr. Healthy or Mr. Mature. But I do have something to say about writing, about leadership, and about the place and purpose of authenticity and honesty. My goal is to equip readers to be better readers, keeping writers accountable to serve the Truth, not themselves. So, without further ado, let’s get into it.