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A few years ago, when I was invited to be a regular writer for The Twelve, I was reluctant to say yes. Even though I enjoy writing, I’ve never really thought of myself as a writer. I’m a pastor at heart, and while I care deeply about words, my stewardship of words had more to do with the pulpit than the blogosphere. There are so many outstanding writers on The Twelve, who was I to be a regular contributor?

Looking back, I’m so glad I agreed to do it. Writing for The Twelve has stretched me as a writer and thinker in ways I couldn’t’ have imagined. Even more than improve my skills as a writer, its increased my capacity for courage. Brene Brown insists that there can be no courage without vulnerability. And to be honest, being a blogger for The Twelve has been one of the most vulnerable things I’ve done. You put your opinions and perspectives out there, you put a part of yourself out there, really…and then you see what happens. How many people will read it? How many comments will it get, and what kind of comments? Do people like what I write? Do they like me?

I see this courage in my fellow bloggers, who regularly put themselves out there and dare to say things that are met at times with sharp criticism. I see the courage in readers who respond with mature and thoughtful comments, choosing to be vulnerable themselves. This is one of the reasons I appreciate The Twelve so much. It is a space where courage Is grown. Courage for the writers and the readers, courage for us all who believe in the high importance of civil and honest reflection and dialogue about things that really matter.

When I look around, I’m thinking we could use a little more courage these days. Real courage. Not the fake kind that consists of insults and toxic rants and carelessly spewing one’s opinions without regard for its impact on others. I’m talking about the kind of courage where we share what we think and believe, and then we stay in conversation (and as much as possible in relationship). The kind of courage that always has love of God and love of neighbor in mind.

Thank you for being a faithful reader of The Twelve, and for the courage so many of you have shown in offering such honest and thoughtful comments.

Would you consider making a special financial gift to The Twelve and the Reformed Journal today so that we can continue to make this a courageous space? No matter what the amount, your gift can make a real difference.

Let’s keep growing our courage together.

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Thank you very much!

Brian Keepers

Brian Keepers is the lead pastor of Trinity Reformed Church in Orange City, Iowa.

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