Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Power of Point of View

Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them — not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve… I Peter 5:2

You can always tell where I’ve been by the trail of books strewn about my apartment. I’m someone who will read three novels at a given time, plus a book on writing, and whatever manuscript I’m editing. I’m not sure how I manage it, but somehow I’m able to keep all the storylines straight. This morning as I hurried out the door to meet my brother for our morning run I noticed a book on my couch-side table: The Power of Point of View by Alicia Rasley.

One of the first things driven into our heads as new writers is Point of View. Whose eyes are we seeing the story through? How do a character’s perceptions and motives color the events unfolding? Is he a trustworthy narrator? Do past hurts prevent her from building strong relationships with others? I would argue that point of view is one the most important aspects of a story, next to the story itself. It determines how I as a reader will respond to the world unfolding before me.

For some reason the book on the table brought to mind a passage I’d opened my Bible to last night before turning out the light. In it Peter was addressing the elders of the church about how they should lead, and as I read through the chapter I found myself inspecting my own ministries, both inside and outside the church. I realized that Peter was encouraging his fellow elders to check their personal point of view and it forced me to ask myself, “What is my point of view when it comes to writing? What are my motives?”

I view my writing as a ministry, and words as an incredibly powerful tool. Through my writing I can encourage others, but I can also tear them down. I can inspire others towards greatness, but I can also lead them to anger and bitterness — recent news stories and the comments posted afterwards are a perfect example of that. In many cases, I write because I love to write. It’s something I am passionate about. But there are days when it becomes an obligation, and like any ministry, once that happens I lose my effectiveness. I might as well be tossing random letters into the void for all the good its doing me and my readers.

Starting today I’ve decided to ask myself “Why am I writing today?” when I sit down at my keyboard. If it’s for recognition or a paycheck, I’ll close my laptop and find something more productive to do with my time. However, if I can honestly look at my reflection in the monitor and say, “I’m writing because I’ve been called to write and it’s something I want to do regardless of whether I receive credit for it or not,” then I believe I’ll receive a double blessing: Not only will I be doing something out of love, but I won’t have to worry about the outcome because my ego will have been taken completely out of the equation. 

1 comment:

  1. Amen, Jen! Great reminder of why we do what we do.