Many writers encourage their readers to join their email lists so they can offer regular encouragement, insights, and even discounts on their products. That is what I do too, but I also do something unique.
Once a month, I pray over each and every name.
Some of you have asked me what that looks like. Well, right now, it looks like starting a praise playlist, getting on my knees in my office, opening the email service I use, and saying every name out loud, followed by the prayer I have sent in that month's email. It takes a couple hours.
I think this is one of the most important ways I spend my time. Two Bible verses have convinced me of this. The first is from Exodus, when the high priest, Aaron, was instructed to engraved the names of the sons of Israel on two onyx stones and put them on his shoulders. He carried six names on the left and six on the right. Why was this necessary? Let's take a look. What do you see when you read the following verse?
"Aaron will carry these names on his shoulders as a constant reminder whenever he goes before the Lord."
I see responsibility. I see accountability. Aaron had been given a position of authority as a high priest, and it wasn't for his benefit. His position was for the benefit of the people, and their names weighed heavy on his shoulders "as a constant reminder."
This verse is the reason why I started praying over the names on my email list a few years ago. I am responsible and accountable for the ways I lead them, and I have to remember that the people who read my books are individualized people, not an undifferentiated group. The medical metaphor is clear. Individualized cells in a human body are healthy. An undifferentiated group of cells is not healthy ... in fact, it is called cancer.
It is healthy for me, as a writer and leader, to pray over individual names, letting them weigh heavy on my shoulders. Another Bible verse reminds me why it is vital for someone in my position.
"Dear brothers and sisters, not many of you should become teachers in the church, for we who teach will be judged more strictly."
Leadership is very serious. God expects a lot from people He has placed in positions of influence. Leadership is also dangerous. It is easy for Satan to distract a leader so they lose their focus and purpose. Everyone makes mistakes, but by grounding my ministry in a practice of prayer, I am aligning myself with God's will for the people I lead. And therefore, I am aligning myself with God's will for me.
Who do you lead and influence? Are you a teacher, a pastor, a writer, a speaker, a parent, a director, a doctor ...? The list could go on and on. If you are responsible and accountable for helping people make decisions, remember that they are individualized people and not an undifferentiated group.
Pray over their names.