By Donna K. Rice
In Ephesians 3:1, Paul describes himself as a prisoner of Jesus Christ for the Gentiles. Paul was Jesus’ prisoner. The Apostle proclaimed himself void of options in career pursuits. His love for Jesus bound Paul to his calling as securely as if ropes bound his hands and feet. Paul understood his purpose, too. He was to minister to the Gentiles. Paul was focused and his dedication resolute.
Can we, as Christian writers, experience our calling with the same zeal? Are we bound, as prisoners, to efforts to reach others with words? As the publishing world becomes more cost conscious and competitive, writers must dedicate considerable time, energy, and resources to their craft. This necessary investment makes it important to determine whether we are a hobbyist or career writer. Either may be a pursuit blessed by God and full of joy in its doing, but distinguishing our purpose helps us to know how best to live out the urge to put words on paper.
Here’s a three-part analysis helpful in making the distinction as we seek to determine the next steps of a writing career.
• Are we listening to and discerning God’s voice and Spirit? In 1 Kings 19, Elijah encountered wind strong enough to break rock, an earthquake, a fire, and finally, a still small voice. In the peace, Elijah heard from God. Fast forward to 2014. In the press of work required to publish, writers need quiet times to seek after the Spirit for guidance. If we don’t make time to listen to the one who called us to the work, we can miss our calling and purpose. What if Elijah had been distracted by the wind, earthquake, and fire? What if Paul only preached to the Jews?
• As inspiration comes, what actions must be taken to pursue the vision? We all experience seasonal shifts in spiritual endeavors. Just as moving from summer to winter requires a change in wardrobe, season changes in our writing careers will require shifting priorities and efforts. What might we need to give up, learn, or adjust in order to write better, be publishable, or reach a new market? What risk must we take to experience something new? Are we willing to take the risk and make any sacrifice required?
• What hindrances exist? This part of the analysis can be difficult, maybe even painful. It requires brutal honesty. Sometimes, limitations come in the form of finances or relationships, but most of the time, we create our own roadblocks. Stubbornness, doubts, personal lusts, self-will. All are stumbling blocks to be discovered and obliterated. Success takes courage. Are we willing, and courageous enough, to identify and overcome the barriers?
As writers, we have a paradoxical choice before us. If we are truly called to write, if we are willing to follow God, if we want to reach the highest pinnacle of God’s purpose for our life, we must become a prisoner to our passion and face any challenge. Just like Paul.
Donna K. Rice writes women’s fiction and is represented by Sue Brower of the Natasha Kern Literary Agency. She’s a licensed minister, conference speaker, and estate planning attorney. She also works with GenderSave, a nonprofit seeking to empower women and girls at risk from gendercide practices in India. Contact Donna at donnakrice.com.