I Only Write Books When I Must

Over the last few years, I’ve read and reviewed all of Tony Reinke’s books. He’s an author and the content strategist for Desiring God. First, there was Lit!, then Mom Enough, then Newton on the Christian Life, then The Joy Project, and finally 12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You. I even wrote a study guide for one of them (The Joy Project).

Okay, okay, okay. You can make fun of me if you want to, but I’m a fan.

Recently Reinke wrote a “thank you” post to his readers. It’s been just over a year since his book 12 Ways was published by Crossway. There were several things I appreciated about the short post. Being thanked was one of them. But the main encouragement to me were his convictions about writing books. He said,

In the publishing market, plagued by its razor thin margins, many authors face tremendous pressure to cave to editors aiming at pop appetites. I don’t. I write the books I want to write, in complete freedom, because (1) I have a publisher that believes books should be better than what the mass market wants, and that authors are better when they fear God more than the market’s silence. And (2) I have readers who share my vision of God and vision of the world.
My promise to you: I refuse to become a professional author. I only write books when I must. Maybe one more, two, four — who knows? But I know I will never ask my busy wife to edit, or for you to read, any book not driven by an urgent need to share with you a necessary message yet unpublished.

I’m not sure precisely what Reinke means when he says, “I refuse to become a professional author.” I suspect he has the pejorative sense in mind, suggesting an author’s pipeline of projects more determined by money than anything else. I read a lot of books, and I know I gravitate toward the books that seem they had to be written, those books that fill far more than a market need.

His post renewed in me the passion to do the same, to write only those must-be-written books. Next week I hope to share more about my job-search book for pastors, a book that—in my opinion—needs to be written. I promise, it certainly wasn’t market forces that drove my decision to spend three years working on it.

What about you? We all have things in our life we must do because they are necessary parts of life—work, sleep, cleaning the house, mowing the yard, and so on. But what things in your life are you doing because you feel compelled to do them for the glory of God, regardless of whether they are efficient, make money, or achieve some other requirement?

The apostle Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5:14 of the love of Christ that compels us. Paul has in mind here what he calls the ministry of reconciliation. But it seems to me that the same compelling love of Christ also unleashes Christians to a thousand different God-honoring, people-helping pursuits. For Reinke, it meant writing a book about faith and phones.

What is it for you? What has the love of Christ unleashed you to do for the good of others and the glory of God?

* Photo by Felix Russell-Saw on Unsplash.