Newsletter 629 – The Positive Side of What We Do

Last week’s newsletter (#628) left me unsettled even though I wrote it. Looking back, it seems that the tone was too negative, presenting only one side of the book-publishing story. That newsletter was stimulated by comments in a business magazine that correctly pointed out the small and disappointing payoffs for the time and energy invested by most authors. This extends beyond books and includes the writing of blogs, newsletters, magazine articles and contributions to professional journals. We noted the difficulties of producing writing that is clear, unique and interesting. The newsletter alluded to the challenge of getting one’s written work published, marketed and then purchased.

LISTSBut last week’s newsletter pushed me to re-evaluate my reasons for writing books at all, looking for the positives as well as what’s negative. From there I moved to doing something similar for my coaching and teaching. These were helpful exercises, building on a belief that periodically we all need to look critically at our work and calling. The negatives are easy to remember but a written list of the positives can be good to review whenever we are tired, discouraged, or tempted to quit.

Here’s a personal example. I continue writing because this:

  • Provides the most effective way for me to impact others and to fulfill my life mission,
  • Is an area of competence for me, a God-given ability, seemingly one of my spiritual gifts,
  • Is one of the best ways for me to keep learning and be able to make decisions,
  • Lets me be innovative and creative,
  • Is something that I feel compelled to do, like some of you who are artists, teachers, or mentors and know in your hearts what you need to be doing.

In contrast to these reasons for writing, my thinking about teaching and coaching is producing different lists. If your work involves counseling, ministry, running a business or leading an organization, your lists would be different. But each list can help you decide whether to stay the course, change direction or refine what you are doing.

There is much in life that can’t or shouldn’t be changed. But reflective re-evaluations can increase our effectiveness and sense of fulfillment as we rethink our motives, abilities, competencies and circumstances. The same applies to our clients. Without ignoring the negatives, what is good about what you do in your life or career? Please leave a comment.


  1. Your list pretty well fits my case as an editor of 100s of books and articles written by other folk whose prose or style lacked luster.
    With advancing age, and having been shunted aside by organisational politicians, editing provides a way to have an impact without having to build a personal reputation.


    1. You are going in the right direction, Galen.

      There comes a time (sometimes sooner than we expected) when most of us are pushed aside or, perhaps more often, overlooked. That’s a time when we can forget any bitterness (if that ever creeps in it will harm you more than the “organisational politicians” who may not even know or care about your feelings or inner hurts). At that point we stand back and ask this question: “Where can I have the greatest impact from the place where I live or work, with the skills I’ve got, and with in unique ways that I can still thrive”. In these times of social media and Internet access there are more opportunities than ever to shape a portion of the future–whether or not we build a reputation in the eyes of anyone except in the eyes of the only person who matters ultimately.

      And all perceptive writers, plus a lot of readers, know that the world needs good editors. Go for it!


  2. Far from negative, I thought your previous blog a very helpful insight. If anything it was encouraging, offering an excellent steer for anyone setting goals for themselves in this area.


  3. I have to ask myself what would my Life have been like with out your book” Christian Coaching” and others like Rick Warren, “The Purpose Driven Life”. I thank you for using your gift, your calling, God has so lovingly provided. I would have never meet my coach, Christopher McCluskey without your book. So bottom line: the 25 year old I coached the past few months, who now is going back to Liberty for her Masters in Teaching or the semi-retired 62 year old, I have been coaching for a year, might never have discovered what was next for him and his wife in their music ministry. We are all members of the body of Christ. Even thought I have never met you, your God given talents and dedication have impacted my life and others I have had an opportunity to Coach. Keep those books and blogs coming. We God’s people look forward to reading the content God has put in your heart to spread to others like me. Thanks


    1. Jeffrey, I very much appreciate your comment. Amazing, isn’t it, how God uses one person to impact another, then another – often in ways that others in the chain don’t know about. I think God gives me enough stories like yours to keep me going, and not enough to build up a bloated pride that makes me useless.


  4. Love you Gary! Thx for remaining vital, provocative and relevant.
    Ps just finished 4th half marathon since dx of Multiple Myeloma cancer. God is amazingly gracious!


    1. Hey Don. You are a remarkable guy. Imagine that cancer gone when we all thought you might have reached the end of your journey. Still counseling and teaching? Doing any writing lately? Still have a son (maybe some grandkids despite your youthful age) in Chicago?

      If you have time, respond here or shoot me an email at


  5. Thank you, Gary, for exercising your gift of writing. It does communicate to me some great truths and wisdom which enhance my life and ministry, I believe. I will try to take up your challenge to critically reflect on my own ministry in the days ahead to find its strengths and weaknesses. Blessings.


    1. Thanks Elsie. After I send this, I plan to post my newsletter for this week. I elaborate a little on last week’s theme and suggest we look around for models (even well-known strangers) who can stimulate us to be better at what we do.


  6. Thanks Gary, I am more pushed to write personal correspondence, newsletters and again a book, in order to leave a legacy after I am gone. Some people are inspired and have taken up the challenge. That is for me motivation enough. Be encouraged Gary, your writings have inspired me through the years as well. Blessings!
    Téo J. van der Weele


  7. Téo, I was glad to read your comments. Writing can inspire others, as you note, but it also can be a helpful exercise for you personally. I tell my friends that I write this newsletter for me: It keeps me up-to-date and writing in ways that (I hope) are clear. If you are planning to write about your personal story try to get a copy of William Zinsser’s “Writing About Your Life”. It is informative, interesting, and written by a superb writer.

    Where is Tulin? I have been to all of the Australian states except Tasmania. Never to Tulin, I don’t think, but I have been to Alice Springs and Ayres Rock. Was I in the right part of the country.


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