Margaret Laurence was a Canadian author and co-founder of the Writers’ Trust of Canada. She once went to her doctor for a checkup and he said, “So you’re a writer. When I retire, I intend to become a writer myself.”
“Yes,” Margaret Laurence cheerfully replied, “and when I retire, I’m going to become a brain surgeon.”
To the average person, the doctor’s remarks seem perfectly reasonable—and the author’s retort seems completely off-the-wall. But you and I know what Margaret Laurence means. Contrary to popular belief, writing for publication isn’t just a hobby that anyone can take up after retiring from a “real” career. Writing is a serious craft, and to become a good writer takes years of intense study, practice, and sacrifice.
And for the Christian, writing is even more than a craft. It’s a holy calling. The impulse to write springs from a need to fulfill the purpose for which God made us. We write to make a difference in the world—and specifically to make a difference for Christ and His kingdom. If you are truly called to be a writer, nothing can keep you from that holy calling.
John 1:1 tells us, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” We are drawn to that Word—and we are driven to share the resurrected Word through our own humble, carefully-chosen words. We identify with C.S. Lewis, who observed, “Writing comes as a result of a very strong impulse, and when it does come, I for one must get it out.”
The apostle Paul tells us that there are many gifts and callings within the church of Jesus Christ. He writes, “So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up” (Ephesians 4:11-12). If you are called to write, you are somewhere on that spectrum. You may not be an apostle or a prophet, but perhaps you are called to teach through your writing. Perhaps you are called to be an evangelist through your writing—one who shares the evangélium, the Good News. God has gifted, equipped, and called you to help build up the body of Christ through your writing.
If you are gifted and called to write, you must write. And you must approach writing as holy calling. If you approach the craft of writing as a job or a career, you will be miserable. If writing is just a job to you, it will quickly become the worst job imaginable. But if you have the confidence and assurance that you have been called by God to write, then you can withstand all the rejection, the insecurity, the deadline pressure, and the sputtering cash flow that are commonplace in the writer’s life.
When writing is your calling, you are writing to please an audience of One. If an editor rejects your work, if a critic savages your work, if an Amazon.com reviewer gives you a one-star review, you can shrug it off. None of that matters. You’re not writing for them. You’re writing for your Master, and for the people He brings into your sphere of influence.
Your holy calling is a great shield against disappointment, anxiety, and self-doubt. When you know you’re called to write, it doesn’t matter if you never reach the New York Times bestseller list. It doesn’t matter what the critics say. It doesn’t matter whether you are traditionally published or if you go the indie route. All that matters is the purity of your words and ideas, and your obedience to the One who inspired them.
How do you know if you are called to write?
Join us tomorrow as Jim explores 3 ways to know if you are called to write.
Jim Denney is a writer with more than 100 published books to his credit, including the Timebenders science-fantasy series. He has just released an inspiring new Kindle ebook for writers, Writing in Overdrive: Write Faster, Write Freely, Write Brilliantly. He has written books with supermodel Kim Alexis, Star Trek actress Grace Lee Whitney, and two Super Bowl champions, quarterback Bob Griese and “The Minister of Defense,” Reggie White. He has co-written many books with Pat Williams (co-founder of the Orlando Magic), including Leadership Excellence and The Difference You Make. Jim is a member of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. Follow Jim on Twitter at @WriterJimDenney, and follow his blog at http://unearthlyfiction.wordpress.com/.