I was a 19 year-old college student when I sensed God calling me into full-time ministry. Shortly afterward, I transferred to a different college and changed my major, and my life focus, from engineering to ministry.
While I was finishing up my last two years of college, working on a Bachelor’s degree in ministry, I spent time in the library reading about great preachers from the past. There were two things that struck me about them: 1) they spent a lot of time in prayer, and 2) they tended to journal. I’ve always tried to emulate these two practices in my own life.
Of course, John Wesley was a meticulous journaler. W. Lee Spottswood, one of the preachers who preceded us in this area (and in this conference) 150 years ago, whom I’ve written about here and here, journaled. Currently, I’m reading through Francis Asbury’s journal (I blogged here and here).
On September 27, 1989, I started a journal and I’ve been journaling ever since. For the first several years, I journaled pretty intensively. In 1994, I switched from writing in a three-ring binder to typing on a computer. Amazingly, in the 23 years I’ve been journaling, I’ve written nearly two million words!
While I’ve continued to journal, it has been sporadic at times. However, I recommitted to the practice of journaling after hitting the wall six months ago (I wrote as many words this year as the last five years, combined) Incidentally, I switched from journaling on a laptop to an iPad. Journaling has been a helpful practice over the last six months.
Here are five benefits I’ve experienced from journaling …
Journaling helps me process stuff.
A journal is a safe place to write out what I’m thinking and feeling.
Journaling gives me a place to write out prayers.
I’m not sure I do this enough, but I am trying to write out more of my prayers nowadays. A journal is a good place to write out what I’m saying to God.
Journaling helps develop writing and communication skills.
This was a big deal early on. In high school and college, I really didn’t like English, so I’ve always felt like I had to come from behind in writing and communication. Journaling helped.
Journaling provides a record of experiences.
Our memories are not perfect, so recording events along the journey is important. Writing it down means I can remember it later. That said, I’ve never been very good at reviewing my journal. But, at least, it gives me the opportunity to do so.
Journaling helps me grow as a follower of Jesus.
As a practice that helps me process stuff, pray, and reflect on life experiences, journaling is an important part of my discipleship strategy.
If you journal, what benefits have you discovered?