Monday, September 29, 2008

The Elusive Editing Gene

Editing. Webster defines it: to prepare (as literary material) for publication or public presentation: to alter, adapt, or refine especially to bring about conformity to a standard or to suit a particular purpose carefully edited the speech

I liked how Robert Cormier put it: “The beautiful part of writing is that you don't have to get it right the first time, unlike, say, a brain surgeon. You can always do it better, find the exact word, the apt phrase, the leaping simile.”

In school we were taught that when you have written enough to satisfy the requirements of the assignment or you've said all you ought to say about a given topic, it is time to put your paper through the rewriting process.

In life we usually associate editing with writing books. It is common knowledge that publishing houses receive hundreds of submissions each day. The eyes of an in-house editor are trained to crush the weak and champion the strong. The acquisitions editor *might* give you a two-page reading before tossing your work into the slush pile. Many are tossed after one paragraph.

Could the same be said of sermons? I believe it can and should. The message, no matter how ‘prophetic’ we might believe it to be, should be filtered through the editing process. The messenger, no matter how ‘powerful’ he or she might believe themselves to be, should be submitting to the editing process. One of the most powerful truths that the editing process reveals is a need for others. When proofreading your own work, you tend to overlook your own mistakes. Your mind automatically fills in what it thinks should be there. The writer is too close to the material to be objective. An editor can recognize the repetitions, inconsistencies, faulty logic, and other problems that are often overlooked by the writer.

It is no secret to my church that I’m a better creator than editor. I’ve never been accused of poorly feeding or underfeeding or misfeeding of my flock. I’ve been guilty of overfeeding. More than once I heard the phrase, “like drinking water from fire hydrant” with regards to my preaching.

So pray for me. I don’t know if God will ever give me that all elusive editing gene. I do believe that he will continue to give me intense dedication, increased discipline, and a divine dose of Holy Spirit.

I want to preach the best sermons I can. More importantly, I want to bring God glory. I know God is glorified in my creating. Help me to learn that God is even edified in editing.

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