5 Lessons I’ve Learned through Writing a Book

By: Jonathan Hayashi

Until recently, I never thought I would write a book. In fact, I almost did not write Ordinary Radicals because I was afraid people would assume I was simply trying to build a platform for my own popularity.

The seeds of inspiration for writing were planted while I was a doctoral student at Southern Seminary in Kentucky. One of my professors, Dr. Jonathan Pennington, encouraged his students to become writers as they strove to formulate their views of theological systems. Dr. Pennington was a prolific writer—someone I greatly respected even before I enrolled at Southern Seminary. So, I took his advice seriously and somewhat awkwardly jumped on the bandwagon.

I’m glad I didn’t give up on writing. I am grateful for all the godly people in my life who encouraged me not to pull back on writing this latest book. As a result, Ordinary Radicals will be released early in September 2018. I have lived with the content of this book for the past several years now—in speaking engagements, in conversations, and in forming the book in my mind and spirit—so I’m ready to get this book out the door. I am hopeful and prayerful that the Lord will use Ordinary Radicals. As I reflect on the writing process, I am keenly aware of five lessons I have learned through writing this book.

1. Crystalizes Theological Articulation
The process of writing helped me think more clearly and rigorously about theological matters. Mark Twain said, “I like it written.” That is, he liked the end product, but not necessarily the process of writing. It’s hard work, but writing has helped me formulate my thoughts more clearly. As a pastor-theologian, I sometimes struggle to understand a doctrinal concept until I’ve put it on paper and read through it multiple times.

As my mentor Jason Walter told me once, “Linguists tell us that we actually have not had a thought until we can articulate it through speech or in writing.” Therefore, the more we put our thoughts down on paper or talk about them, the more firmly they are formed in our minds.

2. Clarifies and Systematizes Argumentation
The more I write, the more my argumentation and formulation skills have improved. Again, it was Mark Twain who said, “The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter—it’s the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.” I heartily agree. For me, the discipline of writing is quite different from that of preaching. The discipline of writing has stretched me in ways that differ from the challenge of preaching weekly.

3. Culminates Community Affirmation
As I deal with problems related to leadership or discipleship, I realize I am not the first or only person to encounter each challenge. This realization gives me the sense of being part of a learning community and gives me an opportunity to speak life into the people who read my books. By writing books, I am able to reach beyond my local church to the Christian community at-large.

4. Cultivates a Learning Atmosphere
In order to write well, I must read well. Making myself accountable for reading and writing allows me to check my learning habits regularly. Tim Keller said it well, “If you read one book you are a clone, if you read two books you are confused, if you read ten books you have your own voice, and if you read one hundred books you are wise.” Every leader must be a reader, and every reader is a learner. Reading is learning, learning is growing, and growing is leading. Therefore, if you’re not reading, you will eventually stop leading well.

5. Creates Academic Accountability
Writing helps me explore various topics and assess whether I clearly understand what I am learning. I get emails from people who encourage me to look further into certain subjects or the arguments I’m making. Not only that, but as I write about some leadership issues, I find myself reflecting on my own life and considering that “Maybe, I should rethink whether I’m being very effective in these areas or not.”

As I empower others to lead better, I am confronted with my own reality check. I must challenge myself to be more effective in my walk with Christ and in the task of disciple-making, modeled in my local church.

Writing and Publishing within the Local Church
I am aware that a few people are against the whole book writing movement in today’s culture. They may believe that people will not read books, or they may believe that writing and publishing are a waste of time and money.

However, I encourage you to engage if you are not already writing on a regular basis. I believe that the body of Christ will benefit from having more people write and publish material that engages the world theologically and compassionately in a way that fulfills our mission. In his unique spin on an old saying, G. K. Chesterton said, “If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly.” Chesterton, a Christian philosopher, argued that most of what must be done to make the world go ’round is done by the average Joe who does not do it perfectly–or sometimes even well. God wants to use ordinary people such as you and me.

So, what is holding you back today? What costs are you willing to pay to make Christ great in and through your life this day?

Jonathan Hayashi’s book Ordinary Radical: A Return to Christ-centered Discipleship offers a step-by-step process for living out the Great Commission to revolutionize the world through the local church. The book will be available Fall 2018. Learn more about the book and Jonathan.

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