Wednesday, July 22, 2009

How Do You Know If You Are Called to Write?

The calling to write is something that many authors talk about. Some Christian authors will even tell you that they went down to the altar and surrendered to the call. Many writers—perhaps most—have a strong desire to write. Put a pen in their hand, give them a few blank sheets of paper and it won’t be long before the pages are filled and the pen runs dry. That’s the way writers are, but is that a calling? In the world’s concept of the calling, it may very well be, but is every person who eats and breathes writing called by God to write? And how do we know if we are truly called or if it’s just something we enjoy immensely? That is what I would like to explore today.

In the Bible, a word that is often used to refer to the message the Lord gave various prophets is a word that can be translated as burden. A burden to prophesy, we might ask? Did the prophet get up in the morning and say, “I think I’ll die if I’m not able to be God’s mouthpiece today?” No, not so much. In fact, many of them ran from God. Look, Lord, I’m happy going about my business, plowing my field, hiding out in the wine press. You go find someone else to tell these people how ignorant they are.

Daniel, in the tenth chapter of his book, is shown ill and fasting for three weeks because he has foreseen the dangers his people faced. Then he sees a vision that puts him on his face and unable to speak. An angel comes to set him upright and one touches his lips, just so he will have the power to speak. In Romans 9, the apostle Paul is so burdened for the Jews that he would willingly throw away his eternal salvation for their benefit.

The point I would like to make here is that the burden of the call is much heavier than a desire to do something and its primary focus is turned toward other people. Writing makes you feel good? That’s great, but that doesn’t make it a calling. So, you would die it you couldn’t write. That still doesn’t make it a calling. Are you burdened for your readers? As you write, do you think I would rather die than to have them not get this? If you do, then you just might have a calling to write.

The called writer isn’t concerned about getting published. Publication is either a stepping stone or a roadblock between the writer and the people of his concern. If it is a stepping stone, he puts it behind him, remaining focused on those people. If it is a roadblock, he finds another way to convey the information they need. Can’t reach them through a book? Maybe through a newspaper column. Can’t reach them through a column? Maybe a blog. Can’t get anyone to pay him? That’s okay, God owns the cattle on a thousand hills and he will provide.

The calling to write has nothing to do with how passionate about writing you are. You may despise writing. You may know of hundreds of other things you would rather be doing and still be called to write. The essence of the call to write is that the writer has a burden from the Lord to help readers through the words he writes.