For Writers

3 Ways to Lead Your Audience Through Controversy and Brokenness

Mary Wiley

Jul 13th

The world is broken. With any kind of brokenness comes a host of opinions about the most effective way to fix it. Behind this variety of opinions are real people—people with histories, people with hurts, people from different cultures, people from different religions. The diverse perspectives of life make it interesting and beautiful, but because of brokenness and sin, this beautiful diversity can often lead to discouraging division.

As an author, you are tasked to use your gifts to serve a diverse group of people who see the brokenness of the world from different perspectives, and thus, form different opinions about how best to address it. It may be tempting to avoid addressing the brokenness of the world because of the division that often follows in its wake. However, your audience values your voice, and to steward your gifts responsibly, it may be appropriate to address controversy and brokenness in order to best serve your audience, and in turn, best serve the body of Christ.

One of the biggest obstacles to addressing controversy and brokenness is learning how to do so without adding unnecessary offense. When the latest tragedy or public sin has divided people, it’s easy to get emotional and step on the toes of others, intentionally or unintentionally. Authors, here are three simple ways to equip yourself to address a controversial issue without losing the ears of your audience:

1. Pray first.

A fine line exists between speaking out to help a situation and speaking out to promote yourself. When tragedy happens or a controversy erupts, it is tempting to take a stand on social media or other platforms in order to pad your popularity and preach to the choir. Before your post or say anything, take a moment to pray. Ask the Lord to give you wisdom and discernment as you address difficult issues, and ask him to protect you from your own sinful heart.

2. Communicate in humility.

Never have I wished that I acted with less restraint or humility amidst an intense conversation; I’m usually praying for forgiveness and wishing I had exercised more restraint. A humble heart is not likely to lead you astray as you attempt to lead your audience to process a tragedy or controversy in wisdom and love.

3. Ask for peer review before posting or saying anything.

I do this often, because it is important to me to see how others perceive the tone of my writing, as I often am oblivious to an unnecessarily harsh or combative tone. If you’re writing about a controversial issue, ask a friend who may disagree with your point of view for his or her perspective. Ask if you are charitable, if your point is well made, and other such questions.

Authors, you are leaders. You have the ability to speak truth and love into brokenness because you have an audience who listens to you and respects you. Do not take this blessing for granted; use it for the good of the kingdom.

headshot-Chris-MartinChris Martin is an Author Development Specialist at Lifeway. He helps authors engage with their readers through blogs, social media, and other digital platforms. He blogs at Catch him on Twitter or Snapchat @ChrisMartin17.