|Posted by Sue Badeau on October 28, 2014 at 12:55 AM|
“Is this not what it means to know me?”
Writing and Speaking UP for the Voiceless
I am an advocate, particularly for children and families who have experienced trauma and who may find themselves entangled in the very systems designed to help such as the child welfare, special education, health, mental health, and juvenile justice systems. I spend a good portion of my time writing and speaking up for those who have not always had a voice in the places of power and where decisions are made that effect their very lives. I am often asked for my "tips" on how to use writing and speaking as a tool for powerful advocacy,
The Bible is filled with people – Esther, Paul, Micah, James, Isaiah, Timothy - who plead the cause of the poor, oppressed and afflicted in a constructive, humble and loving manner while not compromising on God’s truths and desire for justice for all.
If you’re a writer or speaker advocating for the voiceless, here’s my “Top 10” tips to add power to your words.
1. Identity as an advocate - An advocate is one who “pleads the cause of another,” a role God has clearly charged us with– “Defend the cause of the weak and the fatherless . . .”(Psalm 82:3-4). Don’t be afraid or ashamed to call yourself an advocate.
2. Choose your cause wisely - Deuteronomy 15:11, Psalm 82, Isaiah 1:17 and Hebrews 13:3 and many more scriptures guide us to align our passion with God’s causes. You can’t be the voice for all people. Choose and target your message. Pray. Ask God to give you a laser focus for your message. God is particularly concerned with those who are on the “margins” of society – often named the orphan, widow, alien, stranger, or identified by their current lot in life such as those who are sick, imprisoned or impoverished.
3. Prepare - Gather information. Know your facts. Proverbs continually reminds us to gain knowledge and wisdom before spouting off! Isaiah 1:17 instructs us to “learn to do good,” – being a powerful advocate doesn’t come naturally. While stories touch hearts and open minds, it is important not to base your writing or speaking on a single story – read and study about your topic so that your stories, writing and speaking will be infused and informed by the facts.
4. Write and Speak with confidence – “Open your mouth!” Proverbs 31:8-9 proclaims. Be bold! Open your mouth – and direct your pen - for those counting on your voice blasting through the cacophony of useless or meaningless or even false and misleading information bombarding us daily.
5. Write and Speak with grace – Never let passion, boldness and confidence be an excuse for being angry, hostile or strident. Season all your writing and speech with messages of grace and hope (Colossians 4:6)
6. Write and Speak with humility – You can be bold and humble. Don’t be a “know-it-all.” You will be wrong at times. Be willing to adjust as you gain new understanding, wisdom and allies. Remember, for now we only know and understand “in part” and one day we may be surprised about the things we were wrong about. I Corinthians 13:12
7. Be respectful of the “other side” – We know about loving our enemies, but too many Christians write and speak with arrogance, disdain or outright hostility. Remember, even those with whom we disagree are created in God’s image. Understand that there are real human beings with beating hearts, tender spirits, strengths and frailties on both or all sides of any issue. Never villainize those you disagree with. Never disparage the opposition, speak truth with passion, grace and humility- the Spirit will do the rest.
8. Persist! - Remember the widow and the judge? He didn’t care about her cause - he wanted her to stop pestering him. When you feel that your message is falling on deaf ears, it’s time to dig in and double down, not to quit! (Luke 18:4-5)
9. Be Political –Don’t shy away from politics. God’s passion for justice is needed in halls of power. Orphans, widows, aliens, prisoners, the poor, the disabled, the needy – they rarely have a voice in these places, so don’t shy away. Read Isaiah 10:1-2 and I Timothy 2 when you need a biblical pep talk!
10. Be Grateful – When we write and speak for the voiceless we draw closer to God’s own heart! What a privilege! Demonstrate gratitude, and remember how God views your advocacy:
"He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?" declares the LORD. Jeremiah 22:16