That is embarrassing, but I suppose it would be even more embarrassing if I had not learned better. That is one problem with writing things down when you are young. They follow you your whole life. I worry about the folks who still have that old manual. What I worry most is that they will have discovered better all by themselves and any influence I may have now will be destroyed because they think I still believe those wrong notions.
When I was young, I was happy to give advice, too. I thought I knew every answer because to me everything was cut and dried, black and white, and I was happy to share my vast knowledge. Unfortunately, my vast inexperience got in the way. I am no longer eager to give advice. When someone approaches me asking for some, I instantly send up a prayer, “Lord, please let it be an easy one this time.” I am willing to help whenever someone needs me, but now I take greater care with my choice of words. If you are still eager to offer advice, even when it is not asked for, you need to take a step backwards and think awhile. Realize that God will hold you accountable for the results.
Nowadays we have something else to worry about—the blogosphere. I know many who accomplish good things with their web logs, but like anything else we do, we need to be careful. You never know who will read it, how young they might be, how inexperienced, how ungrounded, how fragile their souls. Unless you have a foolproof way of limiting access to it, your blog needs to be exactly the way God expects your life to be—a good example that will help and serve, not a poor example that may lead someone astray.
Your blog does not come with a built in “tone of voice.” It does not come with a commentary that spells out exactly what you might mean when something clearly has more than one meaning. And realize this: what you perceive as the only possible interpretation of what you have said isn’t! Your background, culture, and personal baggage make you unable to see in your words alternate interpretations which may be perfectly obvious to others.
I have learned all this the hard way. Not only do I have a blog, but the many words I have written in class literature, devotional books, and periodicals, and the many I have spoken in classes and speaking engagements have sometimes come back to haunt me, though I regularly pray over them, and have others read them first for any problems they might see. So take this advice, something for once I am happy to share if it will save you from some of the problems I have had—be careful out there. The world is a smaller place than ever before, and you never know who is listening.
Be not many of you teachers, my brethren, knowing that we shall receive heavier judgment, James 3:1.
NOTE: There is a facebook page called "Flight Paths" where you will find quick links, as well as announcements about new books and speaking engagements, and tips for using this blog. All you have to do is "like" the page on facebook.