by Suzie Eller
Over the past five years COMPEL has hosted several devotional challenges. Our in-box is flooded with entries and we love reading them. However, our team noticed that many of our writers started strong. They hooked us! They shared an interesting tie-in to scripture. Then it fell flat at the end.
Some ended abruptly and it felt like riding down a nice road only to slam into a brick wall. Others ended vaguely or rabbit-trailed. Some ended with a scripture references or a nice, inspirational bow, but it felt tacked on.
In this Tuesday Tip (and next week’s), we are going to explore several ways to end your devotion, article, or essay strong.
For reference, I’m going to use actuals samples of Encouragement for Today devotions that have been published over the years. I’ll share a weak ending and then the actual strong ending.
Strong Ending #1: Tie it back to your hook
Begin the article or devotion with an anecdote and tie it up at the end.
Example Devo: Other People Might Think I’m Crazy by Tracie Miles
BEGINNING HOOK: It was a record-setting day, with the temperature reaching three digits. I was on the verge of whining when I saw a frail, exhausted and obviously pregnant woman at the edge of the busy highway, wearing long sleeves and pants that hung from her tiny body.
WEAK ENDING: You should always listen to what God is telling you. Maybe people will think you are crazy, but that could be a good thing for someone else.
ACTUAL STRONG ENDING: How different might the world be today if we allowed God’s whispers to drown out the opinions of naysayers, instead of filling our heads with excuses for not helping? Or if, when God calls us out of our comfort zones, we would put aside our inhibitions and commit to being His hands and feet anyway?
After dropping off this sweet lady at her car with a tank full of gas, she waved at me with a big, thankful smile and quietly uttered the words, “God bless you.”
But in my heart, I knew He already had as His joy swelled within me.
After returning this sweet lady back to her car with a tank full of gas, she waved at me with a big, thankful smile and quietly uttered the words, “God bless you.”
But in my heart, I knew He already had.
Strong Ending #2: Offer a challenge
End with a gentle challenge and doable action steps.
Example Devo: The Dangerous Familiar by Karen Ehman
HOOK: “Aw, come on Mom and Dad, pleeeeease!”
During an afternoon drive, our kids spied a “free kittens” sign and begged for their first real pet. My husband and I caved and pulled into the farmhouse. After weeks of pestering, our offspring had won. We would get a kitten, and they would get the chance to prove they could handle the responsibility.
WEAK ENDING: We’re stronger than cats. We have someone watching out for us. Don’t be a cat. Don’t climb into that familiar place and get all mangled.
STRONG ENDING: And that is just what returning to old habits makes us — weak and miserable.
Determine today to stop hiding out in old destructive habits. Instead, come out into the light of His glorious grace and learn a new method of coping. Race to Him instead of running back to your old ways. His Word is alive and active. It can help us break horrible habits and form new, Jesus-pleasing ones as we reply with a resounding “No” to returning to the dangerous familiar.
Take a look at your current work-in-progress and figure out how you can implement one of Suzie’s tips to create a stronger ending. Leave a comment and let us know which tip you’re going to use: tying the ending back to your hook or offering a challenge. Post an example of your previous sentence and show how you’ve changed it!
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