On taking the 'God Parts' out


Art of Eloquence is fast approaching the completion of its eighth year in business this November.  It's been a very interesting ride so far.  I've learned a great deal about business, about myself and my faith. When I wrote my first study, Say What You Mean (for Teens), I really wasn't thinking of this as a business or even a ministry. It was simply an answer to a homeschool friend's need for a more comfortable way her shy daughter could learn to communicate more effectively.  It was important to me that the approach to overcoming shyness and strengthening communication skills be fun and reflect the teachings that are so prevalent in God's Word.  I have literally found HUNDREDS of scriptures that pertain to communication and many of them contain lessons I studied in the pursuit of my secular degree. However, as I began to form Art of Eloquence, I quickly learned that not everyone was happy with the 'God parts.'  The woman in charge of a nearby YMCA said she would love me to come and teach there if only I'd 'take the God parts out.'  A public school administrator informed me that she'd love to recommend that my studies be used in the district, if only I'd agree to 'take the God parts out.'  My Dad shared with me that he felt that I'd get a lot more sales if only I'd 'take the God parts out.' Over the last eight years, I can't count the number of times I've been offered contracts, money, sales, an enormous venue in which to display my articles if I'd only agree to 'take the God parts out.' I just could never bring myself to do it.  It felt like I'd be turning my back on the Lord after He had done so much for me.  It felt disrespectful, but more than that, it felt wrong. When I got my degree from a secular university, I felt I had a firm grasp of the concepts I had studied.  After all, I had a degree from one of the top ten universities in the country for Speech Communication.  When I accepted Christ as my savior, I found greater meaning in the lessons He wrote for us in His Word.  It more than enhanced my understanding; it put a necessary perspective on every aspect of human communication.  I found that studying speech communication without mentioning what the Bible has to say about it, is like studying automobiles without mentioning Henry Ford. As the years went by, I began writing more about being an effective witness for Christ both as an example and when discussing our faith with others.  That's when I really had some challenges to my approach!  I've had people heckle me on internet radio shows and I've had some NastyGrams sent to my email.  I've had people disrupt my online events, send scathing remarks to online groups and one lady who chastised me during a presentation I was asked to give for a group of Christians.  I found out later that she was a member of one of my Christian Yahoo groups!  She wasn't aware that I was asked to do this presentation nor was she aware that the presentation was to a group of Christians.  She simply felt it was 'intolerant' of me to quote scripture and talk about Jesus when there were people who didn't believe in Him.  So she stood up in the virtual chatroom so to speak and told me off, left the room and took several people with her. Many times what I write cannot be divorced from scripture without diminishing the value or losing the integrity of my message.  So, though I've been asked many times to 'take the God parts out, for many reasons, I simply cannot do it and remain true to the voice inside me-the voice God gave me. I can't say that I haven't been tempted.  I wish I could report to you that I've never once allowed it to cross my mind that I might have much more of a following or more sales if I did 'take the God parts out.'  And I know that there must be others out there who struggle with this issue whether they are authors or not.  I'd like  to share a thinking process that I use whenever I am presented with a situation like this.  I hope it will help you.
  • If I were to take the scriptures out of my work, I might be able to reach a wider audience than just the percentage of Christians who feel it important to study communication from a Christian perspective.
  • If I were to reach a wider audience, I might be able to reach unbelievers and they may come to know Christ.
  • How many people, who are that uncomfortable with scripture, would actually be interested in these kinds of articles and studies which were written specifically for Christians?
  • How many of my articles and studies really speak to the unbeliever?
  • Wouldn't I approach a nonChristian in a completely different way?
  • Isn't there a reason God directs me to write this way?
  • So...shouldn't I leave my writing the way I was directed to write it?
Some Christians are directed by God to write in order to reach unbelievers.  Some have missions that speak to the churched.  Each of us has to listen to the Lord to determine our own path and then ask ourselves questions periodically that will allow us to keep to the path the Lord has set before us. What is your mission?  What questions do you ask yourself in order that you remain on the path God has for you? ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~ JoJo Tabares holds a degree in Speech Communication, but it is her humorous approach to communication skills which has made her a highly sought-after Christian speaker and writer.  Her articles appear in homeschool publications, such as Homeschool Enrichment Magazine and The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, which also endorses her Say What You Mean curricula, including Say What You Mean Defending the Faith.  You can also find JoJo on web sites such as Crosswalk.com and Dr.Laura.com.  For more information on communication FUNdamentals and Christian-based communication skills for the whole family, please visit http://www.ArtofEloquence.com

11 comments


  • Kim@ In Our Write Minds

    Excellent article, JoJo!

    I think it depends on the purpose of the material and the reason one wrote it in the first place. In your case, I am in total agreement! Your products are intended for a Christian audience, and if you were to remove the “God parts,” the heart of your message would disappear. Perhaps a secular audience would benefit from some of your products, but for the most part, each book you write is founded on Christ and the truths of Scripture, and removing those portions would leave your products lacking.

    In our case, WriteShop I and II were written in the context of a Christian homeschool co-op, so it was natural to tuck in a few Bible verses and encourage the students to make sure their writing was pleasing to the Lord. However, the few references to God or the sprinkling of verses found in the Teacher’s Manual could be removed without changing the flavor of the product. The principles of writing would still remain: To write clearly, concisely, and graciously.

    There are questions to consider before deciding whether to create a secular version of a product. For instance, did God call you to write for a Christian audience? Are the products designed to strengthen the Christian? Evangelize the lost? Is the material expressly intended to teach Christian principles? Is the material (in our case, how to write) equally important and useful to Christians and non-Christians alike? Would the integrity of the material collapse without the “God parts”?

    We may or may not ever remove the “God parts” from some of our products, but I do believe there’s a time and place for meeting the needs of both the Christian and secular communities. We’re not motivated by money, but by the desire to put good writing materials into the hands of those who need it. Someday, we may decide that it’s time to do both.


  • jojosblog

    I’ll have to look into your book, Anita. I also believe that prayer before speaking is important, but God also tells us to seek wisdom and learn. That’s why I teach communication skills. Just knowing some simple things about how human communication works can help you communicate more effectively.


  • jojosblog

    Janet,
    I’m afraid it is true that there are some in today’s society who believe Christians are intolerant and self-righteous. It is not everyone, but there are those who have a knee jerk reaction to anyone who calls themselves a Christian or to the name of Jesus. Part of what I teach in my studies is to approach folks in a respectful way. The reason I stress this so strongly is because, in my experience, coming from an Atheist family, there are many times when an unbeliever is approached by well-meaning Christians in a less than respectful way. I also see it on the internet where people who call themselves Christians will blast those who disagree with them in a way that is most definitely NOT Christ-like. So part of the blame for this is the Christian community itself. The other part is the way the mainstream media likes to make examples of those who do this.


  • Anita Mellott

    JoJo,

    Thank for this very thought-provoking post. I grew up in India, so I understand exactly where you’re coming from. You may be interested in a book that my father and I wrote, published by Haggai Institute for Advanced Leadership Training, “Who’s Listening?”

    For me, prayer the foundation of any communication. There’s a time and place for everything. As I am open to His leading, He will give me the wisdom and discernment to know how to communicate to a particular audience in the most effective way.

    Many blessings!
    Anita


  • Janet Theador

    Hi JoJo…Just loved this article, and thought I would write my msg. here, instead of on Facebook, for a change.
    I wanted to tell you, I had a “shock” at the last job I had, a few years ago. One day, at lunch, I was sitting with some work friends, and mentioned that I am a Christian. Very kindly, one of my friends told me that when a person says that, nowadays, it is “assumed” that the person is a self-righteous, ‘goody- two- shoes,’ politically ‘religious right’ individual!! When I explained that is NOT true concerning me…she said, nevertheless, that IS what people “assume!!”
    I never dreamed there was this “assumption!” It makes me sad to think that being a Christian has been “spun” into a not very nice example of a human being!! When did this happen? It scares me, actually, when I think about it..
    I believe being a Christian is following Christ’s teachings and example…he had no “agenda,” in his teaching. To me, “agenda” has a bad connotation. Maybe the definition really doesn’t.. :) He loves us…period!!
    I am curious about your feelings on what I have said, Jo Jo.
    This is something that concerns me…alot. I am NOT connecting it in anyway to you, Hon…you are a Christian…period!

    Love,
    Janet


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