I have found myself on a common theme lately of singing the praises of journaling. While it has been the go-to recommendation in a number of counseling contexts, I realize it’s just plain been helpful to me, as a leader, and as a follower of Christ. I thought that information might be useful to share with you, so here goes!
What I journal –
- Reflections on the happenings of the prior day. I use this time to thank God for what He did around me, giving honor to Him, and to pray over future actions I might need to take, based on those.
- Principles and nuggets of wisdom I gain through my day’s experience and revelation from God.
- While reading my Bible, I record additional insights I gain from my daily Scripture readings.
Why I journal –
- Over the course of my life, I have found that regularly journaling about these three things has increased the amount I recall. Thanking God for the good things that happened the prior day increases the likelihood of my remembering them. The same is true with wisdom and insights gained in experience and Scripture.
- I have also found that journaling increases the amount of revelation I receive, or at least the amount which I acknowledge receiving. A pastor one time counseled that if I wanted God to speak during my times of prayer and in His word, why would I not have paper to take note of things He said? Coming with no journal was like not coming prepared to listen. I have found in life that having a journal, on the other hand, increases my ability to focus on Him and tune out the distractions of the world.
- I am not certain of it, but I believe there may come a day when I decide that my life experiences warrant the writing of a book. If (or when) that day comes, I believe it will be useful to have notebooks full of wisdom and life experience which can provide content for that.
- I have found that it helps me to focus on communicating with the Lord to write my thoughts even as though I would speak them. My journal entry this morning began with “Lord, thank You for last night and really for everything You carried me through yesterday.” Sometimes the prayers are requests, sometimes other words of appreciation, but I try to write these out, word for word. I know it perhaps seems silly, but this helps me stay focused versus the distractions of the world. It’s almost like writing an email to the Lord, but I don’t have to press send.
- Generally the first thing I record in my journal each day is a quick recap of the prior day. I literally do a quick list of bullet points: good family time in the morning, productive time in my day’s meetings (I need that productivity, so when God enables it, I want to thank Him!), good pastoral connects with X person, etc. Especially if there was anything significant during the day, I make a note of it here. A side benefit of this is those moments when I get discouraged about how things are going, I literally can go to my journal and review some of what God has done over the last season in the world around me. It breaks discouragement every time.
- I use a daily reading plan from YouVersion because it appeals to my sense of “checking boxes”. When I begin my Bible reading for the day, I record the Scripture references for that day. Then, as I’m reading, if God pricks my heart related to a particular Scripture, I will write that full verse out in my journal. Writing it increases my potential for memorization, which is a powerful tool for applying God’s Word to your life and situations.
- Whether it’s insights related to a particular Scripture or other things I believe God has illuminated for me, I also record those.