Let it percolate

I remember a former pastor commenting once that no-one should attempt to write and publish a book before they were 40. He reckoned that there was a good chance that you would have to go back and explain  why you’ve changed your mind 

Tim Keller of course only started writing for a wider audience into his 50s.  The Reason For God was published in 2008 when he was 58. It’s surprising to think as we consider his influence and impact that this was really over a 15 year period later on in his pastoral ministry.    I believe that he too was of the “leave it until later” school of thought.

Now, this is a risky thing to say because I’ve friends who are writing and having their stuff published much younger.  There may well be a case too from time to time, if you are a specialist in a particular field or have particularly relevant experience.  I too however am of the “wait before you write” school.

Admittedly, my view is similar when it comes to going into ministry.  I think there’s benefit in getting some experience of life and work before taking up a leadership role in church.  In both cases, it’s important to avoid legalism. There are exceptions to the rule.  However, generally, we benefit from taking our time, especially in a world that is in a hurry.

A good reason for this is picked up in advice that Keller reportedly gave to preachers. He suggested that you had your sermon ready early in the week and then let it percolate. In other words, give a few days to just let the sermon sit, don’t even think about it, just get on with the rest of life. Then, you can start to reflect a little and towards the end of the week, you might want to make some changes.  The time given for the talk to “percolate” will allow you to identify things that need cutting out, to include an illustration or application you’d not initially thought of and to fine tune the introduction and conclusion.

This applies on those bigger projects too, a book or even a whole ministry vocation ahead.  Give it time and your perspective and experience will sharpen whilst your love grows.  We don’t need to be in a hurry.

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