Sunday, March 30, 2008

Is writing a gift or a calling?

Yesterday I got involved in a discussion of writing and whether it really is a "calling" from God or not. I apologize for getting a little defensive on the topic. It is one that I have struggled with mightily over the years. I was asked whether, if God asked me to stop writing and serve Him another way, I would obey or cling to what I perceive as my "calling."

The answer is Yes. Yes I would obey Him in whatever He asked of me for a season, but yes, I would also cling to my calling because I know it is a lifetime call. How do I know this? Because it is not just what I do, but a part of who God created me to be.

I think it is safe to say that there are at least two kinds of writers - those who write for intrinsic reasons, and those who write for extrinsic reasons. (There are probably others who fall somewhere in between.) Intrinsic writers like myself have been scribbling stories since we were old enough to hold a pencil; it is as essential to us as breathing. Extrinsic writers pick up the craft at some point in their lives in response to some external stimulus or need. They may write for the rest of their lives or for a season, but for them it is more of a choice than it is for the intrinsic writer.

As an intrinsic writer who spent a decade denying my gift in order to focus on my other responsibilities, I can attest to the fact that doing so makes me miserable and unfulfilled. God has consistently placed people and opportunities in my path to draw me back into using my talent. It has taken a lot of convincing for me to accept that such a seemingly selfish activity, which takes so much time and energy away from other things and has such an uncertain outcome, could ever be of value to God. But He has never stopped "calling" me. There is no more appropriate word for the clear, consistent urging of the Holy Spirit over the years. Therefore, while I would agree with the person who originally posed the question that we are called to obey God in all things, including how we use our gifts, I would argue that sometimes the gift itself contains a call - a call to obediently develop that gift throughout our lifetime.

One thing that encouraged me was a comment from a pastor friend, who observed that whenever we use the gifts that God has given us for no other reason that the pure joy of doing so, we are actually worshipping Him!

So these stories of mine are an act of worship, strange as it may seem. The obedience part, for me, is not a question of whether or not I should write, but in having the faith to keep at it no matter what. Even if I only manage a paragraph a week. Even if it's garbage. Even if I never get published. I need to cling to what I know I have to do, because God has placed within me a call I cannot extinguish. However He chooses to use my work in the end is fine with me.

But He can't use my writing at all if I never write.

1 comment:

Mark Goodyear said...

For me writing is absolutely a calling. But that doesn't mean it is my only calling. And it doesn't mean that every calling I have becomes a paying vocation.

Your use of the word calling here struck a chord with me since I'm senior editor of a website call! We have several articles there about the high calling of writing, by the way. : )