Thursday, January 29, 2009

There’s No Point to Dull Pencils- Kim Jackson

I’ll admit it. I’m a pen-oholic. I’ll go even farther—I’m addicted to office supplies. My sister has the same problem. One day when we were happily walking the aisles of Office Depot, the manager approached us and asked if everything was all right, since we had gone up and down every aisle and hadn’t put a single item in our cart.

We explained our addiction to office supplies, our low checking account balances, and the fact that we could still get our fix by merely viewing new varieties of sticky notes, file folders, and of course, pens. The gentleman seemed to understand, and no police officers had to get involved. I did eventually make a purchase: a Pilot Precise V5 RT. That’s a pen, not a sports car, by the way.

I love the feel of a pen in my hand. It’s a religious experience for me. Perhaps it’s akin to what Eric Liddell said in Chariots of Fire: “When I run, I feel God’s pleasure.” Only when I run, I feel like my lungs will explode. But when I write, I feel God’s pleasure.

I suppose I should feel his pleasure no matter what my writing instrument, but I’m very picky about the pen I use. There’s a certain feel and flow that just plain out makes me happy.

Once while doing interviews on an overseas mission trip, my favorite pen ran out of ink. Luckily I had refills with me. By week’s end, however, I had used all the refills, and the last one gave up the ghost in the middle of an interview. My interpreter quickly handed me another writing instrument …. a pencil…. and a dull one at that.

Once I regained my composure, I was able to scratch out the rest of my notes using the thick lead of the dull pencil. But I was not happy about it. And I did not feel the flow. Finding a pencil sharpener helped matters immensely, and I actually begin to enjoy the feel of the pencil and the look of the thin graphite strokes on the paper. I suppose I could have persevered with the dull pencil. But a little sharpening made a world of difference.

There are times I feel like a dull pencil. My writing lacks clarity, my prose seems obtuse. And that’s when I realize that a little sharpening might make a world of difference. Every month at our Crossroads Communicators meeting, we have the opportunity to get “sharpened.” Just as Proverbs 27:17 says “As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend” (NLT), the purpose of our group is to develop our communication skills by providing encouragement and critique. It’s an environment where “iron sharpens iron.” We grow through interaction with others. And when we interact with those who are like-minded, it maximizes our growth. Christian communicators need to be with other Christian communicators because when we are in fellowship with one another, we are shaped by one another. And the shaping and sharpening makes us better equipped and more productive in carrying out the Kingdom call of communication on our lives.

So no matter if you write with pencil, pen, computer or crayon, there’s a special sharpening of your skills that’s not available to lone rangers.

It can only be experienced with others. And that’s the point of Crossroads Communicators!

Crossroads Communicators is a group of Christian writers, speakers and teachers who have joined together for the purpose of accountability, encouragement, critique, and sharing of information. Our purpose is to help one another develop communication skills by providing an encouraging environment for growth. It is our desire to impact the world with God’s truth. Crossroads Communicators meets the second Thursday of every month at 6:30 in Room 120 of Crossroads Church, 220 George W. Liles Parkway NW, Concord, NC. We welcome visitors! For more information, contact Kim Jackson at

Kim Jackson is a charter member of Crossroads Communicators, Vice President of Education for Goldmine Toastmasters, and a freelance writer and speaker whose “day job” is Concierge at Eden Gardens Assisted Living. Visit her on the web at