Monday, April 5, 2010

How Can I Know If God Is Calling Me to Write?

Am I called to write? How do I know if I’m called to write? Those are a couple of questions I’m going to try to help you answer today. We hear a lot of people talking about how they are called to write, but what does that mean? And what about you? Are you called to write?

First, let’s define what we mean by the phrase called to write. There are all kinds of people who talk about their calling or someone else’s calling when they don’t have any idea what a calling is. Here, what we mean by a calling to write is that God has decided that he want you to write for him. It is similar to a calling to preach, though also very different. It is not a desire to write or the fact that you enjoy writing, as some people might think. When God calls someone to a ministry, whatever that ministry might be, that person may not enjoy doing what God has asked him to do. If it is a short-term thing, he may never reach the point that he enjoys it. With long-term callings, people tend to reach a point at which they do enjoy the work. But don’t assume that just because you want to be a writer so badly that you can taste it that God has called you to be a writer.

What Is My Relationship With Jesus Christ?

The first thing you should ask when considering whether you are called to write or not is your relationship with God’s Son, Jesus. Do you know that if you died today that you would go to heaven to be with him, or are you unsure? If you have never trusted Jesus as your personal savior, you can be sure of two things. One, you won’t be going to heaven and two, you aren’t called to write. I can’t make it any more plain.

Now, suppose you have been saved and your relationship still isn’t what it should be, that’s a somewhat different situation. You may be living in sin, haven’t repented and haven’t removed that sin from your life. You feel God speaking to you and you wonder if he is calling you to write. He could be, but it could be that he’s trying to tell you to get that sin out of your life. Take care of the sin first and don’t consider whether God is calling you to something until it is gone.

Who Is My Audience?

If you don’t know who your audience is, there’s a good chance that you haven’t been called to write. I think the Bible bears me out on that. Consider God’s calling of the prophets. There are plenty of examples, but look at how the Lord called Samuel as a child. You recall how the Lord spoke to Samuel and Samuel went running to Eli, but Eli figured out that the Lord was speaking to him and to him to respond “Speak, Lord, for thy servant heareth.” After Samuel said, “speak, for thy servant hearth,” the Lord said, “Behold, I will do a thing in Israel at which both the ears of every one who heareth it shall tingle. In that day I will perform against Eli all things which I have spoken concerning his house. When I begin, I will also make an end; for I have told him that I will judge his house for ever for the iniquity which he knoweth, because his sons made themselves vile, and he restrained them not.” It was very clear that Samuel was being given a message for Israel, but more specifically to Eli.

Very often, when the Lord called someone in the Bible, it was referred to as “the burden.” Do you know your audience? Do you have a burden for your audience? I believe that when the Lord calls someone, he does so knowing which lives that person will touch through his ministry. If you don’t feel a burden to write to a specific group of people, you probably haven’t been called to write.

What Is My Message?

Just as the Lord doesn’t call someone to write without a specific group of people in mind, he doesn’t call a person to write without a specific message in mind. It could be that the Lord is calling you to write, but he isn’t calling you to write books. He could be calling you to write articles for your church website. But if he’s calling you to write, he’ll give you a message that the people you are burdened for need to hear. I very much doubt that he’ll call you to something generic like writing clean entertaining books because there so many bad books out there. To me, that’s like someone saying their calling is to sit in the pew every Sunday.

You message may change. Over a career of writing, it may change many times. You may write one book and be burdened to say one thing. You may write another book and be burdened to say something else, but if you are called to write the book, you will know your message.

Is My Message Consistent With the Word of God?

God will not call someone to write and give him a message that is inconsistent with God’s revealed will. If you believe God is calling you to write, check your message against what God has said in his Word. If they aren’t the same, He isn’t calling you to write.

Is The Written Word the Best Way to Get My Message to My Audience?

Just because God has given you a specific message to a specific bunch of people doesn’t mean that you are called to write. It could be that the message God has for this people would be better if it were presented in a different way. He might be calling you to teach a Bible study class, for example. Sure, you could write the message down and let them read it, but if there is a better way, then maybe you should try that first. But if your audience is more widespread, then writing may be one of the better ways to go.

Is My Calling Short-term or Long-term?

We once had a class that focused on a special topic for four weeks. The class had just lost its teacher prior to that special emphasis and I felt burdened to take on teaching the class during that time. I had no doubt that the Lord was calling me to do that, but I mistakenly assumed that he wanted me to continue teaching that class afterward. When that didn’t happen, I was disappointed, to say the least, but I learned from that experience. Not all callings are for life.

If you feel the Lord calling you to write, consider whether he is calling you to write about a single topic or if he is calling you to a career of writing. You may have experience that will be helpful to others and the Lord may lead you to write it for the benefit of others, but that doesn’t mean he wants you to continue writing after that.

Have I Exceeded the Length of My Calling?

Let’s suppose that you were called to write, but only for a short period of time. Now you’ve exceeded that time and you want to continue writing because you enjoy it, but the Lord is calling you to do something else. There may be no harm if you do that new thing while you continue writing, but if you don’t do the new thing and use your previous calling to write as an excuse, that is a problem. You may have once been called to write, but not now.

What Do Other People Think?

While the opinions of others probably shouldn’t be our primary concern, it is often the case that fellow Christians have a good idea of whether a person is called to do something or not, even before the person admits it. How many times have we seen a young man surrender to preach and people say, “I was expecting that?” Of course, we have to be careful because some people think someone ought to be doing something that the Lord isn’t calling that person to at all.

When considering the calling to write, you might want to consider whether respect you as a writer, even before you make an effort to be a writer. Do strangers pay you compliments or do you have to beg your friends to say something nice about your writing? If you ask your friends whether they think you would make a good writer, do they mention specific examples of your writing they like or do they just nod their heads and say they think you could do well? If you aren’t gifted as a writer, then maybe God isn’t calling you to be a writer.

But if God is really calling you to be a writer, by all means go for it. Follow the will of God and bless the rest of us with the message he gives you.

1 comment :

arlee bird said...

Timothy, I have been wondering about God's hand in something I began this past week. Perhaps you have seen some mention of the Blogging From A to Z April Challenge which in put forth last Saturday. In just a few days it has blown up to 75 active participants who are excited about what is happening. Connections are being made and many people seem to be very affected by the whole thing in a very postive way. Many are Christians and some are not.

I'm really starting to rethink my own writing direction and wondering where this is going -- is there some sort of calling here.
I invite to check out some of the participants and look at some of the comments that I have received. I realize it would take hours to read everything, but it might be worth a look. As for me, I'm going to see where this month takes me and the participants-- but I sense some real power moving through some of these bloggers.
Lee