February 1998 – I’m often reminded of our need to use the gifts and talents God gives us for His glory. To advance His kingdom. Recently the Lord gave me a wonderful opportunity to do just this. I’ll tell you about it in a moment.
I graduated from Mississippi State University in 1986. I really enjoyed the college experience except for one thing. Tests. I never could come around to liking exams. In fact, for about five years after I finished school I would have this recurring dream that I had a big test the next morning and I had forgotten to study for it. Sometimes I would wake up in the middle of the night and then have to remind myself that I had already completed school. Go dig my degree out of the closet. There’s no need to panic,Tim. Now go back to sleep, I would tell myself.
One of the reasons I experienced this phenomenon, I now believe, is that I wasn’t big on preparation. I once waited until the last night to type a 15-page term paper that also had to be researched. Alison says there are times when she can still hear that old electric typewriter clicking in the night. Finished at 8:30 for a 9 a.m. class and made a B+. But as with most students, I enjoyed some subjects and so the learning part was easy. With others I had to drag myself to class and force myself to listen. Often times, Self would tell me he didn’t want to listen and – to be quite honest – he didn’t want to be there in the first place. Sometimes I won. Sometimes Self won. It was a constant battle.
After about a year of what I would call floundering in business school it dawned on me one day in the cafeteria. I was having breakfast by myself and reading the newspaper. This was my morning ritual. Now I enjoy good company as much as anyone, but give me a cup of coffee, a table off by itself and a newspaper and I am one happy camper. Sports first, editorials second, and front page third. But it occurred to me one morning that I really enjoyed reading and writing (not big on arithmetic) and maybe journalism was for me.
I visited a guidance counselor and the next thing I knew I was studying to be a journalist. I began to really enjoy school. That was 15 years ago. Today in my position as vice president of American Family Association, I am able to utilize this gift to defend and advance the Christian value system.
In addition to writing this monthly column in the Journal, I also get some opportunities to write editorials and opinion pieces for other publications. USA Today called and asked me to write a response to their editorial of January 6. Their position called for more “sex education” i.e. condoms, etc. The usual “kids are going to do it so we might as well show them how to do it safely” liberal way of thinking. I wrote in defense of abstinence. I strongly emphasized the Christian view of sexuality.
What I want to encourage you to do today is think of the ways you can use the gifts and talents the Lord has given you. For instance, if you too are a writer, take the opportunity to write letters to the editor of your local newspaper. Did you know these letters are the second most read section of the paper behind the front page? People want to know what’s on the minds of their neighbors. Sometimes even more than they want to know what the paid columnist thinks about an issue. Some words of advise: if you are going to write a letter to the editor please know your facts. Use scripture when appropriate, but don’t use every other line to quote the Bible. People will not read it. Make your comments practical and understandable. Let a friend critique your letter before you mail it in. Sometimes emotion is useful, but don’t overdo it. (If you wish to drop me a line at AFA, P.O. Drawer 2440, Tupelo, MS 38803, I’ll send you a brochure about how to write an effective letter to the editor. Or E-mail twildmon@ afa.net.)
Well, the printed word can be very useful in communicating our message. I encourage you to look for ways from the newspaper to the church newsletter to write for our side.
Did you get all that? Well, I hope so. Because now I’m going to give you a test. OK, take out your paper….