A few years ago, I went to a Matthew West concert at a local college. Matthew’s tag line is, Tell Your Story, Change a Life. He does something original, and being a lover of stories, I was SOLD. He composes his lyrics from the stories of the people who write to him. Their stories are about how they overcame adversity through faith in God.
As a part of his presentation, Matthew shares the person’s original letter and then sings the song he composed and devotes the song to that person. The experience was an emotional joy for those in the crowd. Me included. People connected to him and the stories of his fans because we could relate, because we love it when people tackle diversity and persevere.
Matthew also shared information about an organization called COMPASSION INTERNATIONAL.
When Matthew was a child, his family sponsored a child every month, and years later he went to Africa and met his sponsored child. This child told him that the reason he’d succeeded in his life was because of the money the artist’s family had sent him. In a box in his little hut, the young man revealed all the letters that Matthew’s family had written to him over the years.
After Matthew’s presentation, I decided to sponsor a child in Africa, too. Meet Agbessi. He’s eight. Every month I send money for his needs. He writes me letters and draws me pictures. I send him the same. I received an email this week from COMPASSION INTERNATIONAL that it was his birthday. I was thrilled that someone reminded me because birthdays celebrate life, and I wanted Agbessi to know that his life mattered.
When I began my letter to him, I had to pause. What should I say? What shouldn’t I say? How do I make it relatable to him? My world is nothing like his.
I decided that I would make my letter about him. I asked him questions and encouraged him. I also told him that his life mattered, that I was thinking about him and enjoyed reading his letters.
When we write, it’s important to keep our audience in mind. Each person who reads our work or our letters thinks, what’s in it for me? Why should I read this? Why should I care?
Everyone likes encouragement. Everyone likes to know that they’re thought of, and everyone wants to know that their life matters.
When you write for others, do you think about the value you’re bringing them?