Are you called to write?
That question comes up at writer’s conferences, writer’s groups, on email loops and in conversations among writers (Christian writers particularly) with great regularity. And while I think it is a fair question, I don’t really think it matters. Not as much as we like to think it does.
Now, before you start the nasty emails accusing me of everything from heresy to being the reason Gilligan’s Island went off the air, allow me to explain. As an ordained minister, I have a little experience here. I served churches in North Carolina and Georgia for fifteen years, and when circumstances made it impossible for me to accept a new church (as a Methodist minister logistically I could no longer go wherever I was needed), the focus of my ministry changed and writing became the new focus.
Was I called to this new phase of ministry? I really don’t know. I had already been writing for almost 20 years at night and on weekends — whenever I had time that did not conflict with my pastoral responsibilities — so it was not totally new. But it still wasn’t a “natural progression” because my focus changed. The process was much different than that of being called to be a minister. So, was I called? I’m still not sure. But I DO know God has blessed me and has allowed me to do something I have wanted to do since I was in the third grade. And that’s good enough for me.
I think Christian writers sometimes use the idea of being called as a crutch or an excuse. Do you truly feel you are called to write? If so, you have your answer. If not, I don’t think you need to spend much time worrying about it. Do you have a desire to write? Are you willing to write for the glory of God? Do you feel like you are serving God in some way through your words? Do you just enjoy writing and want to have a positive influence in the lives of others? Well if that’s the case, and you ask Christ’s blessing on your work and dedicate the work to him, that’s enough. Whether he initiated the process, or you recognized a way you can glorify him and asked his blessing, the mechanics become immaterial, because as Jesus promises in John 14:10-14:
Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves. I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.
You are not called to everything you do are you? Then why must you be called to write. Why can it not be your gift to Christ? If you take that attitude, if you are indeed called to write, you’ll know it eventually. And if you’re not, so what? As long as you are offering something of worth and asking his blessing, I’ve never heard of a single instance where Jesus said, “Nope. It wasn’t my idea. Too bad.”
You see, sometimes the question of whether a writer is called or not is also an excuse for not writing. “I don’t know if I am called” is sometimes the mantra that goes hand-in-hand with not writing. The search for an answer becomes a substitute for the act of writing. And God should be our inspiration … not our excuse.
So, are you called? I’m not sure it matters in the grand scheme of things. Do you regularly seek God’s blessing on your writing?
That’s the real question.
Coming Tomorrow: Called to Publish?