Journaling for theological educators

Journaling for theological educators

I have kept a journal, on and off but mostly on, for many years. Why? Here are a few good reasons;

It becomes a reflection on our calling as a theological educator and how it is being fulfilled. There is nothing more important for us than to see our work as a calling to a particular ministry, a developing understanding of this and a noting its fulfilment in our life.

It can be an affirmation of important parts of our life that are nothing to do with theological education. Hopefully our journal will be full of those pleasures (and sometimes struggles) in our life which have nothing to do with our calling, a rejoicing in family, a recording of beauty and awe, a thoughtful walk.

It will facilitate the creation of happy memories to turn back to such as reading back over the last year and enjoying the happy times again. A short while ago, I even re-read what I wrote 49 years ago, the evening a young lady who was to be my wife indicated her beginning love for me. The ink was still luminous with joy.

It can become a way of talking things over with God, especially for those who sometimes find it easier to write than speak. We all pray in our own way and some often do it in written words. A journal is especially useful for a time of reflection, such as at the end of a year, looking back and forward in the presence of God.

It creates a record of the ways of God in your life. When I was recently writing a short memoir, I had thirty-six journals to guide me dating back to when I was a young man. It was enlightening about myself, but even more about how God had worked in my life, usually through other people, their decisions and encouragements.

And are they to be kept private? Yes, because if you write for others to see you do not write entirely honestly. At the end of his life, lying in bed, the puritan John Howe told his wife to bring all his journals and burn them in front of him before he died. We can all work out any exceptions to this rule, such as a loving spouse who probably knows more about us than we do ourselves.

If you do not yet do so, then let me encourage you to consider keeping a regular journal – or revive the habit that may have fallen by the wayside. It slows you down and makes you more reflective in a busy life, adds richness to that life and helps you live it well.

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One Comment on “Journaling for theological educators”

  1. Drew Gibson Says:

    I’m with you 100%, Graham. A journal has been invaluable for me for for around fifteen years, as part of my morning devotions. I only wish that I had discovered the discipline much, much earlier. I’d like to underline your point about honesty. I think this might be because writing is slower than thinking and is much more deliberate. Therefore it is easier to spot when I’m bluffing or putting an inappropriate gloss on things that I should be stating starkly. I used to have to delete whole lines because I knew I wasn’t being completely honest. I catch myself on more quickly now. Also I write by hand, not electronically. It’s more personal, more intimate… or maybe it’s just a generational thing.

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