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« The Smiles of June | Main | A Question of Priorities »

No Column This Month

typingkeys.jpgI have decided not to write a column this month. I fully intended to write one, but several things happened that discouraged me. I started to think about why it just wouldn’t work out. The more I thought about it, the more I entertained the notion that I may not write next month either.

First, I read over my job description. Nowhere did I find that the District Superintendent has to write an article each month for the district newspaper. If I preside over district conferences and board meetings, sign annual fellowship cards and represent the district at General Board meetings, I’ve basically fulfilled all the obligations of the office. Beyond those requirements, I’m supposed to look after the goings-on in the district; you know…things like mediating disputes, appointing committees, giving permission for this and that, and a few other insignificant official actions. But I don’t think I was elected to agonize over a blank sheet of paper (or a blinking cursor on a computer screen) and fill it up with words. I’ll admit that sometimes I enjoy writing, especially when I have something on my mind that I really want to say, but other times it is just a huge chore. I just figured that this month I would exercise my rights and refuse to write a column.

Then, there is the time factor. Despite popular opinion, I do not have more than the same twenty-four hours in a day that others have. Sometimes, I just get inundated with stuff I have to take care of, and my time for peripheral do-gooder jobs flies out the window. Some might wonder if fishing trips, time-shares and championship courses distract me, but that’s definitely not the case. It’s the work of the ministry, organizational duties, church administration and fulfilling family obligations that swallow up time in huge gulps. Just when I think that I have an hour or so cleared out to write, the phone rings, the doorbell clangs, or “You’ve got mail” speaks to me from my artificial intelligence apparatus. One phone call can rearrange an entire week. I don’t know why I’m telling this to you. You know all about busy schedules and unforeseen interruptions. That’s why you understand perfectly why I can’t write a column.

More on the time thing. Even when a sufficient amount of time becomes available to compose a column, I have to decide on the judicious use of that time. Wouldn’t I be better off by doing something more beneficial to me and what I’m doing in my place of ministry? Can I honestly say that secluding myself in my office turning phrases and checking synonyms rises higher in the priority list than studying, teaching, counseling, planning and all the other ministerial tasks? Or, shouldn’t I be out there mowing the lawn, getting the tires balanced and rotated and doing all the other necessary appointments in life? A column seems to be far less important when I weigh it against everything else.

But, there are other reasons. Writing is hard. Ideas are scarce (good ones, that is). Things that I would sometimes like to write about have to be edited out in the interests of diplomacy. Who reads this stuff, anyway? What difference would it make if I didn’t do this? Critics don’t need me to entertain them. Thousands of alternative columns appear in other magazines and newsletters. The crisis I’m writing about this month will be forgotten by the time this goes to press, making me seem behind the times. And I never know when I’m going to write something dumb and will feel embarrassed when I see it in print or when I have to eat my words.

You may think that I’m letting everybody down. I’ve thought about that, too. It’s risky, but I’ll go ahead and say it: Get over it. Most of us are adults here. We all know a lot of people who just don’t do what everyone else expects them to do. They don’t need a reason. They’d be insulted if you asked them why they didn’t do something, or why they didn’t attend a particular meeting or why they didn’t support a certain cause. What do we do about it? Nothing. We shrug our shoulders and say, “Oh, well.” People disappoint people all the time and life goes on. You don’t actually believe that other people’s agendas ought to rule your life, do you? Of course not. One man’s mandate is another man’s option. I’ve got to be responsible for my own personal, individual vision. If that vision doesn’t include writing a column, so be it. Organization should never become a noose around one’s neck, should it?

Yes, I think I’ll wait until I have something really powerful to say before I churn out another column, or at least until something strikes me as novel and fun to write about. For the time being, you’ll have to look elsewhere. I won’t be writing a column this month. For those of you who really need to read a column, there are plenty of other writers out there to choose from. Also, there’s always the opportunity for you to sit down and write a column yourself. Think about it. Thank you for your understanding.

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