idontcareIt was an important report, one that could have benefitted a lot of people and one that needed to be read by a bunch of people. I read it several times. I did this not so much because it was pithy and engaging, but because it was really hard to understand. I’m not a stupid person, it was just an extremely complex piece of writing. Others read it too. They also did not understand it and as a result, something that could have been quite enlightening and helpful ended up breeding some distrust and division.

Then there was the time I was reading an assigned text for a class. In one sentence, I had to consult a dictionary at least three times just to understand what the writer, a noted biblical scholar, was saying. Ironically, the sentence was on the importance of making your preaching understandable to the common man. Speaking of text books, did you ever wonder why college text books are so expensive? The answer is the only people who will buy them are those who are forced to buy them. Do you know who reads doctoral dissertations? Other people writing doctoral dissertations.

I am not putting down intellectuals here. Instead I am pointing out something you don’t have to be a genius to understand. Even if you are a genius, chances are most of your audience is not. Writing is a mode of communication and the purpose of communication is to be understood. You can lament that the people reading your work are less intelligent than you, or you can appreciate the people who will read your work and write it so they can understand it. I remember several times preaching in places where most of the people did not speak English. I could go there and preach with great passion and fire, but it would be completely meaningless without an interpreter. It doesn’t matter how much you know if people cannot understand you.

Writing (or speaking) over the heads of your audience is not very smart. Make yourself understood.

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