by Arron Chambers
I’m often asked how I became an author.
I never planned on being an author. I liked to write but never thought anyone—besides my Mom and my 10th-grade English literature teacher, Mrs. Beardall—would ever read anything I’d ever written. But that all changed over lunch with my friend Ben.
I’d had the privilege of baptizing Ben back in January 2004. Immediately after his baptism we began meeting every other week for discipleship, fellowship, and to celebrate what God was doing in his life. Ben is a very talented man who—at the time—was writing a book. Over lunch one day he asked me if I’d ever considered writing a book.
“Not seriously,” I responded. He then asked, “If you were to write a book, what would you write about?”
Over the next hour, as I answered his question—and unbeknownst to me at the time—our lunch at Shells transformed into a divine appointment. Ben eventually interrupted me and demanded that I contact his editor with my book idea—immediately.
By 5 that afternoon I’d e-mailed his editor a brief synopsis of my book idea, and then things began to move quickly. After a series of e-mails back and forth over the next week and some coaching from Rusty (the editor), I’d written my first book proposal and submitted it to more than 300 acquisition editors, publishers, and literary agents. Within two months of that conversation with Ben I had a literary agent and a book deal.
That was five years ago. To this date I’ve been blessed to have had the opportunity to write five books (the latest book, Eats with Sinners, will be released by Standard Publishing November 20).
Though I’m often asked how I became an author, I’ve never been asked why I write books—until the editors of CHRISTIAN STANDARD contacted me recently.
Writing books is a demanding and time-consuming process. Actually, Steven Pressfield described it best when he wrote, “It’s not the writing part that’s hard. What’s hard is sitting down to write.”1
It takes me about six months to write a book, and since I have a wife, four children, a full-time job as the lead minister at Journey Christian Church, three dogs, a cat, a triathlon habit, the desire to excel at my ministry to my family and church first, and the need to have a healthy and well-balanced life, most of those six months are spent writing from 3 to 8 am each weekday.
During those dark, quiet, early mornings as I sit alone with only my thoughts and my laptop in my home office while my family sleeps soundly, I often ask myself the same question: “Why am I doing this?”
Well, let me share with you a couple of the answers to that question that have come to light from those countless hours spent writing in the early morning darkness.
I write books because the written word is powerful.
Wise people know the power of the written word, so the wise people who founded the United States of America initially wrote—not spoke—a declaration that began with these powerful words: “When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bonds which have connected them with another. . . .” These written words enraged a king in a foreign land, empowered the common people in this country, and established freedom as a goal worth living and dying for.
Our wise God knows the power of the written word, so he wrote down the 10 commands he had spoken to Moses on Mount Sinai (Exodus 24:12). These powerful words were to be the foundation his holy nation would be built upon and the moral infrastructure holding that nation together. He also left us with a book full of written words that—if read and applied—have the power to keep a life together.
I’m not so wise, but even I know the power of the written word, so—a couple of weeks ago—I grabbed a bar of soap from the tub and wrote the following words on my wife’s mirror: “I love you.” My wife hasn’t wiped those words off the mirror yet because they speak powerfully of my deep affection for her.
I’ve written just a few more words in books over the past five years because I know there is power in the written word and I want people to know of the deep affection God has for them.
I don’t write books to impress people; I write books to minister to people. I’ve found books can make a powerful impact on my readers’ lives in ways a spoken sermon cannot. When I deliver a sermon on any given weekend, I have the opportunity to impact the lives of about 450 people in the room when the sermon’s delivered and the lives of the few who join my mom listening to it on the Web site or on iTunes. But the words written in one of my books have the power to reach thousands of people around the world.
I can’t sit next to that single mom in Nebraska who’s at her table in tears as she wonders how to pay the bills for the next few weeks. But—through my books—I can be with her and speak words to fuel her soul when she feels like she’s running on empty.
I can’t stand next to that teenaged girl in Florida as she looks into the mirror and doubts she’ll ever feel truly loved. But—through my books—I can be with her and speak words that will help her to remember who she is.
I can be in only one place at a time. But—through my books—I can minister to people all over the world who will never hear a single word I say.
I write books because the written word is enduring.
Words written in books aren’t easily erased. That’s why my editors and I work so diligently to make sure every single word is correct and properly placed. The words I’ve written in my books will speak long after my voice has been silenced on this earth.
Someone said, “To write is to live forever.” I’m sure that person is probably dead now. Even so, I think there’s a seed of truth in that claim. I know it reminds me of something I learned in Bible college. When I was a freshman I asked one of my professors—who is a prolific author—why he writes books. I’ve never forgotten his reply. He said, “One of the reasons I write is because it gives me the chance to minister to people long after I’m gone.”
I want to minister to people long after I’m gone too, so I’ll keep writing books as long as God keeps opening the doors to do so and as long as people keep reading them.
A couple of years ago I received a card from my 10th-grade English literature teacher, Mrs. Beardall. She is a resident in the nursing home where my mom works. My mom had given Mrs. Beardall a copy of my book Remember Who You Are. She’d read it, enjoyed it, and decided to send me a note.
She wrote, “Knowing that a student of many years past has become a person of such theological and spiritual depth—and one who can express himself in such well-crafted English—that’s very gratifying!”
Mrs. Beardall’s gracious and kind words mean more to me than a thousand positive words from the world’s most renowned book critic.
I’m going to keep that note forever and read it often. Her encouraging words are a powerful and lasting blessing to me.
Her written words will minister to me long after she’s gone.
I’m sure that’s why she wrote them.
I know that’s why I write words, too.
1Steven Pressfield, The War of Art (New York: Grand Central Publishing, 2003), xi.
Arron Chambers is senior minister with Journey Christian Church in Greeley, Colorado.