You’re a Writer!

When should you call yourself a writer? This post will give you reasons you need to see yourself as a writer now!

“GOD’s Message, the God of Israel: ‘Write everything I tell you in a book. Jeremiah 30:2

 

My stomach cartwheeled and lodged in my throat, as my heart hammered away. Fighting light-headedness, I braced myself tightening my grip on the handholds. Perched on a limb overhanging Farmer Lott’s pond, it petrified me.

“It’s not that high, Kevin! Just Jump!”

From the other bank, the tree branch seemed closer to the water’s surface. But the air seemed thinner with altitude. My head spun as images of injury and a watery grave raced through my brain. I contemplated climbing down the way I came.

“Just jump, already!” My brother shouted as he rolled his eyes. His patience was wearing thin with his tag-a-long younger sibling. The searing stares from the other bank were palpable. I wanted to, but I couldn’t climb down again. I knew I had to jump.

The combination of peer-pressure and the rough bark biting into my bare feet, coaxed me further out on the limb. I imagined the plunge. With a deep breath, I began a mental countdown. Three… two… I closed my eyes still envisioning the jump… one… I pinched my nose… zero… I leapt. Time slowed in midair. Then the cold water enveloped me sending a shock throughout my body. Instinct took over, and I swam upward. Breaking the murky water’s surface, I opened my eyes to see my older brother and his friends smiling. I was a jumper.

Calling myself a writer, like the limb over Farmer Lott’s pond, intimidated me. Sure, I published a few pieces here and there, but did that make me a real writer? Like me, do you ask questions like, am I a writer or a wannabe?  Can I call myself a writer, if I haven’t published a book? Are you looking down into the foreboding waters afraid to jump? Well, the water is fine! And I want to tell you the key to taking that leap of faith.

A few years ago, I worked up enough courage to take the plunge as a Christian writer. How did I do it?  The key, like imagining my childhood leap, was to see myself as a writer.  Even if you have published nothing, if you write, you’re a writer! I haven’t published a book, yet.  But I am a writer, nonetheless. All a writer is, is a person who writes. Do you write? If so, what would you call yourself? Go ahead say it out loud. It helps.

How did I get comfortable with calling myself a writer?

First, are you called to write? Only God can answer this question for you. I cannot. Remember, a call to write is a God-given durable impulse to glorify Him and serve others through the written word.  If you have a want to write, God may be calling you to write.

  I wrestled for years to make sure my want was His will. (We all struggle with this so be gracious to yourself.)  However, you can find peace in the “write calling” by examining your desires. Lay them bare before God. During my time of discernment, I realized I needed to obey God’s voice. If that meant walking away from my writing dreams, I had to be willing. I admit I was afraid of His answer.

Again, only you can find this answer. For me, in a gradual revelation, God confirmed He gave me the desire to write. In the process of revelation, He was stripping me of selfish ambition (He’s still working). My writing was for God’s purposes, not mine.

How can we tell if our desires are from God? Eric Liddell, an Olympic athlete born to missionaries, said, “I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast! And when I run, I feel his pleasure.” Like Liddell, God created you and me for a purpose. If we ask God, He will reveal that purpose to us. Inventory your gifts, talents, and abilities. Has God gifted you with a way with words? You need not be Shakespeare, because you can always hone your craft later.

Do you feel God rejoicing when you’re writing? If so, you may be a writer! I’m writing, and God is smiling. He is not smiling because I am penning renown prose. You can find others more eloquent. He rejoices because I acknowledge my gifts come from Him. And I surrender them to His purposes. He delights in our creativity, because it reflects His image. If you think about it, God is a writer too!

It is a simplistic revelation, but it has revolutionized and solidified my call as a writer. The Bible says,

 Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,  fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2 [Emphasis added]

Did you catch that?  God is the Author! If you’ve never considered the metaphor in this verse, I recommend God as Author by Gene C. Fant Jr. This book has help shape me more than this post will allow to tell.

Galileo argued that God wrote two books: The Book of Nature and the Book of Scripture. Nature tells us there is a Creator, but the Bible reveals God intimately. Think about it, what special revelation have you received from God that was not written? The Bible is God’s grand narrative in which He reveals Himself to humanity. The Bible is God’s book. God (the Father) used the Word (the Son) to create and communicate Himself to creation. God (the Spirit) inspired men to use words to write the Bible. The Christian God is a best-selling Author!

Is it irrational to think, that your desire to write a book may have come from God? I don’t think so. Please realize a Christian call to write is not synonymous with becoming a world-famous author. Rather, it is a commission to labor using faithful words to serve others and promote the biblical worldview.

After I realized that God gave me the desire to write, and that by writing, I am reflecting His glory; I found peace in identifying as a writer. I plunged into the waters of writing. It’s fun. You should try it too!

Do you feel the call to write? If you do, I don’t want you to feel alone in this journey. I invite you to join me as I make this pilgrimage across the page by liking, sharing, commenting, or subscribing to my mailing list. I look forward to the journey with you!

 

 

 

 

Called to Write

“Called to write.”

Over the years, I have contemplated this three-word phrase. What does it mean to be “called to write?” The word “calling” passes around in Christian circles with little thought given to it. For clarity, I define calling as the God-given durable impulse for a certain lifestyle or vocation. A Christian call to write is a strong God-given urge to serve others through the written word. We can fulfill this call in both fiction and non-fiction.

I had a strong desire to write before my call to pastoral ministry. (This durable impulse even predated my conversion to Christ!) But desire doesn’t  always equal calling. As a third-grader, my teachers selected me to attend the Young Author’s Conference. Sitting wide-eyed in an auditorium, I listened to the award-winning author Avi speak. He spoke about being a professional writer. I was hooked. I wanted to tell stories like him. I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up.

After my conversion to Christ, I thought a simple change in my content was all I needed to make my writing Christian. I dreamed of cranking out Christian novels from a cabin in Appalachia, but God stopped me in my tracks with a call to pulpit ministry. This was not what I had envisioned, but God called me to preach. For a long season, the desire to write was bottled on the inside of me and it seemed God had tightened the lid. God used this time to sanctify my mind and heart. I surrendered my dreams and followed His call into pastoral ministry. I have never regretted following.

In submission to the call to vocational ministry, I began to see the connection between the speaking and writing ministry. Realizing God gave me the desire to work with words, I began writing a devotional column for a local newspaper. People read it and liked it. I would receive letters of encouragement (and one time a $25 donation). Soon, I began to write for another newspaper in a different county. I started a blog around this time too. But there was a tension in my spirit, because I felt I was neglecting my pulpit ministry. It scared me.  I liked the attention too much. So, God had more work to do in my heart.

A few years later, while I was serving another church, God loosened the lid. I remember God showing me that writing was to be a focus in my ministry. This revelation was not in an instant, but gradual. It was not one instance, but many instances that accumulated until it formed the vision. Beforehand, the problem was I wanted to write stories for me. I wanted the limelight of a wordsmith. The desire to seem intellectual clouded my motives. I had never wanted to speak in public, especially for God. However, God wanted me to preach, teach, and write for His glory. I had to surrender my life’s desires and trust Him.

Why do I share all this? Because writing is ministry. Ministry is about serving others, not our egos.  God calls people to write for His glory. This doesn’t mean that  you can’t write novels, poetry, biographies, or whatever else you want. But a Christian call to write is a strong God-given urge to serve others with your words.

I know I am called to write. If you’re reading this, you’re more than likely a writer too. You may be working through the same issues as I did. You’re not alone. We all struggle to find our calling and stay faithful to it. I want to help you. In the upcoming weeks, I am beginning a new series called Finding the Right Write Calling. I invite you to journey with me as I openly work through what the call to the writing ministry looks like. Regardless, if you’re a fiction or non-fiction writer, God may call you or solidify your call to write along the way. Will you join me? Please subscribe to have the future posts delivered to your email.

 

Stick a Fork in June, it’s D-O-N-E!

Stick a Fork in the June Blogging Challenge , it’s D-O-N-E! Why did I set this goal? Read to find out why.

This post completes the 2018 June Blogging Challenge! There was a new post every day in June. I must admit it is a small accomplishment, but an achievement none the less. I have learned celebrating the little victories motivates me to press on to the more considerable triumphs.

Why did I set this goal? It’s all summed up in the word: discipline. I tend to have too many “good ideas” when it comes to writing. I chase after them like an indecisive bird dog flushing out a covey of quail. I suffer from A.D.D. However, I am not talking about Attention Deficit Disorder, but instead, I have Acute Deficiency of  Discipline. I have a problem with placing my butt in the chair and writing. This self-imposed challenge, although my content varied, forced me to sit and write with consistency.

The consistency of posting daily strengthened my “writing muscles.” These blog posts were extra created content. I typically preach three times a week, and a majority of these sermons are written as a full manuscript. I find it helpful after outlining a sermon to write myself clear, so when I approach the pulpit I have wrestled with the text all week.  I know the meaning for the people then, and I have the message for God’s people now. Therefore, this challenge was very challenging at times. But its over. Done. Finished. I have conquered June.

However, I confess I did not do it alone. You – the readers – were in my study or beside me on the couch encouraging me to keep pecking away at this keyboard. I thought of you often as I pushed against the resistance of the blinking cursor. Thank you for taking this journey with me. Thank you for liking, commenting, and sharing my words with others. It means more to me than I can express.

Moreover, I would be amiss not to mention my biggest supporter in this world. Red, thank you for not killing me when I disturbed your sleep as I slid out of bed at five o’clock in the morning to pray and write. We all know how much you enjoy mornings. I appreciate the grace extended to me when I was working late to meet the deadline of the day.

Red, believe it or not, you inspired this month’s adventure. Over the years, I have watched you hone your craft and become a phenomenal photographer by challenging yourself to be better. You may not remember the conversation – I know there are so many – but when I told you I wanted to become an author I was gauging myself. I wondered if I had what it takes to pursue this dream. I understand now, although my aspiration is lofty, I have God and you on my side. I know both of you believe in me. Watching you and having you in my corner, I know I will succeed by God’s grace. With you, I am a better me. Again, thank you for believing in me. Even when I have too many “good ideas” that wake me before daybreak.

So where do I go from here? I am committed to becoming a better writer; to find my voice. This challenge has revealed that I can carve out the time needed to write and still fulfill my other obligations. Yes, I may need to drink more coffee, but that is a sacrifice I am willing to make.

In the future, I will not be posting daily. However, rest assured I am writing. Now, my challenge is to use the daily writing habit established this month to work on my first novel. Watch your inbox because I may post a sample chapter soon. As far as the blogging, the posts will slow to a weekly rhythm instead of the daily hustle. I hope you have enjoyed the June Blogging Challenge as much as I have but stick a fork in June, it’s D-O-N-E!

 

 

Preacher or Writer? The Internal Struggle

Preacher or Writer? Is it a trivial distinction? Read more to hear my journey of embracing my calling.

Am I a preacher who writes? Or a writer that preaches? To some, this may be an unnecessary division, but for many, this is a serious question of calling. I know it has been for me. This post will explore this question and give my personal reasoning of why I am a preacher who writes. (Notice, the emphasis on the word personal. Every person has a particular calling they must find and embrace. This post is my take on my unique calling.)

I desired to be a writer long before being called to the public proclamation of God’s Word. It’s hard to believe at one time; I was terrified of public speaking. I recall standing behind a podium at a technical college shaking with fear before an audience of about ten peers. I am confident my fingernails left indentions in the podium. It was the longest five minutes of my life.

I feared public speaking because I fumbled with words (I still do). I could always express myself better through the medium of writing. I am no longer afraid of speaking in front of a crowd, but I still feel like I write better than I talk.

In the third grade, I was nominated to attend the Young Author’s Conference. Although tonsillitis forced me to leave the meeting early, I was able to hear the children’s author, Avi, speak. This experience planted the idea of me becoming an author. (On a side note, I think my wife attended the same conference.)

During High School, I was an awkward fellow. Antisocial and bitter, I spent time writing poetry. It was my therapy. It helped make sense of all the thoughts and emotions in my brain. My mother took noticed and encouraged me to submit my work to a poetry contest. In the end, one of my poems was published in a collection album.

These events, along with others, made me think I would live with paper and pen in a remote cabin. However, God had other plans. God’s ways do not always make sense to us ( see Proverbs 3:5-6).

When I dedicated my life to Christ, on December 16, 2001, I assumed I would begin to write as a Christian writer. I desired to be a novelist (I still do.) As I started surrendering my plans to God’s sovereign rule, I felt the Spirit press me to preach and lay aside my dreams of becoming an author. I was not to write (or not yet). God even lead me to burn a book of poetry I penned before my conversion. I was no longer the person who wrote these pieces. These poems were, in a sense, the old me.

There was a time whenever my eyes closed; I would see the word, PREACH. I knew God was calling me. Kicking and screaming I submitted to God’s prompting. However, I knew God would somehow give me the go-ahead to writing…one day. It wasn’t until pursuing my undergraduate degree that I felt a release to write. I am convinced God led me to lay, my Isaac of writing, down on His altar. I was to write, but solely for his glory. My motive changed from seeing my name on a book cover to glorifying  Him.

So why do I feel that I am a preacher who writes instead of a writer who preaches? Again, this may be a trivial distinction to some, but in my case an essential difference. I wish I could find the words to convey how I know that I am to pursue preaching over my writing but I cannot. All I can say is, it’s about obedience for me. 

Last week, in my reading of Haddon W. Robinson’s Biblical Preaching, I came across a paragraph that spoke volumes about this topic. He writes,

Paul was a writer. From his pen we have most of the inspired letters of the New Testament, and heading the list of his letters is the one to the Romans. Measured by its impact on history, few documents compare with it. Yet when Paul wrote this letter to the congregation in Rome, he confessed, “I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you, that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine.” (Rom.1 :11-12 RSV). Paul realized that some ministries simply cannot take place apart from face-to-face contact. Even the reading of an inspired letter will not substitute. “I am eager to preach the gospel to you… who are at Rome” (1:15 RSV). A power comes through the preached word that even the written word cannot replace. 1 [Boldened emphasis mine]

I consider myself a preacher-writer because the primary medium for salvation is through the foolishness of preaching (See 1 Corinthians 1:21). Nevertheless, I will preach, and I will write all for the glory of God.

What about you? Do you preach and write too? How do you distinguish the two? Or you may have another calling altogether. I would like to hear your thoughts. Please comment below.

 

  1. Haddon W. Robinson, Biblical Preaching. 3rd Ed. I(Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic) 2014. 3