“My understanding of God and what it means to live for Christ have been, and continue to be, profoundly shaped by a host of writers.”
One of the first things I learned when I started to write for publication was the use of “-30-” to indicate the end of an article or story. The origins of this practice are up for debate. One common explanation traces its use back to the telegrapher’s practice of using “xxx” to indicate the end of a dispatch. Placed below the last line of a newspaper or magazine submission, -30- says to the editor or the layout artist, “Don’t look for any more copy. That’s it; there is no more.”
So this is it, my final editorial. I figure one last “Slim Pickings” is a fitting way to go out. It’s a title I’ve used over the years to describe the tangle of thoughts staring back at me from the screen when my editorial is way past the deadline … and this one is definitely that.
I signed my first consulting agreement to become the “Testimony Editor for the PAOC” in March 2007. I never imagined then that I would be wearing the proverbial editor’s visor for almost a dozen years. Like every other job I’ve had in my life, this was not a position I went looking for. It came knocking on my door. And, like every other job I’ve had, it has rewarded me with opportunities far beyond my expectations or qualifications.
Having the first word in each issue of the testimony has been an honour. If you look up the definition of an “editorial,” you will recognize that my approach has been, to put it kindly, unorthodox. Although I have, on occasion, expressed an opinion on an issue, that opinion has been mine alone, not the majority vote of an editorial board. Rarely have I laid out an argument in order to persuade readers to think the way I do. I’ve mused far more than I’ve opined. I’ve written way too much about myself. I’ve told stories. On more than one occasion, I’ve even had the nerve to slip poetry into an editorial—my own poetry, no less! The level of trust I’ve been given during my tenure defies justification. I leave this post humbled and deeply grateful.
Speaking of trust, I’ve come to regard the editing of someone else’s words as a sacred trust—and I don’t use that word lightly. My early editing, I fear, was fuelled more by ignorance and arrogance than by any desire to honour a writer’s voice. Let’s just say that I wasn’t hired on the strength of my curriculum vitae. My understanding of the mechanics of editing was rudimentary, and my approach was uninformed. In truth, I still feel like an imposter when I’m introduced as an editor. I learned the art of editing by being thrown into the proverbial deep end. If it hadn’t been for the lifesaving efforts of the testimony team, I would have gone under pretty quick. You all know who you are. Thanks for keeping my head above water for the past dozen years. To those writers who have thanked me for tinkering with their words, you will never know how encouraging your words were. To those who have felt that I tinkered too much, I ask your forgiveness.
Speaking of forgiveness, there have been a handful of occasions on my watch when the decision to publish a particular article has sparked controversy. For that I do not ask forgiveness, but I will offer an explanation. There are approximately 3,600 credential holders in the PAOC and more than 235,000 people who attend a PAOC church or ministry each week. The reality is, we do not all think alike. In fact, there is a diversity of opinion within our ranks even on significant issues. My motive for giving that diversity a platform was never to intentionally raise anyone’s blood pressure. It was to try to help us understand each other … and to grow. It was done hoping (some might say naively so) that it might spark respectful, constructive conversations. And it was done with the conviction that those kinds of conversations serve to strengthen relationships, not weaken them. That explanation will fall short for some, I know, but it is the truth.
Speaking of truth, we need writers. We need them to name things for us so we know we’re not alone. We need them to stir our thinking to save it from stagnation. We need them to tell our story in their stories. We need them to shift the furniture so we can gain a different perspective. My understanding of God and what it means to live for Christ have been, and continue to be, profoundly shaped by a host of writers. Let those among us who have the gift of writing continue to tell us the truth we need to hear.
Well, the pickings are past slim. What has not been said in 100 editorials will have to find another outlet. For reading my words and trusting me with yours, thank you. For the privilege of leaving my fingerprints on this important publication, thank you. And to the One in whom our testimony
is rooted, thank You!
This article appeared in the January/February 2019 issue of
testimony, the bimonthly publication of The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada.