Not for Everyone. And Not Always Right.

Recently, I’ve received a few challenging emails where readers take issue with things I’ve written. Perhaps I quote someone who later in their life said something theologically wrong. This makes readers discount a book and write inflamed messages. Some emails take on accusatory, condemning, and mean tones. Perhaps I state something a reader doesn’t feel I backed up well enough in scripture. These letters I like to read carefully so I can learn. Other letters involve people not supporting anything I write because I like pop music and listen to Taylor Swift (true story).

If you’re a writer or a speaker (or anyone posting thoughts on social media, too), this will happen. What should you do? Ask yourself this question: What does this person really want from me? If someone simply wants me to know their thoughts, I’m thankful and move on. I’m glad they engaged with my writing, even if they disagree. If someone wants to challenge my thinking, I can respond if I think what will follow involves a helpful dialogue.

It’s OK that people disagree with you. If they do, it probably means you’re contributing to a worthwhile conversation. Writing and publishing (and teaching for that matter) means you grow in the area of not needing everyone’s approval or permission to think the way you do. Early on, my favorite quote for this area of work is this: “I’m not for everyone. That’s OK.”

I’m also not God. Neither are you. I’m not rewriting the Bible, nor should you. Sometimes your favorite writers will say silly things or their theology strays near the end of their life. Stay strong in your convictions, read widely, but always stay most faithful to the Bible and to Jesus—not your favorite author.

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