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Called or an Offering?

By Ian Acheson

I’ve always found the topic of “one’s calling” fascinating. We all wonder at times in our lives what our specific calling is and it’s a topic that has consumed many pages of books, blog posts, conference notes and so on. It’s often used in discussions around vocations and careers.

When I started to meet writers I was at times surprised and, often intimidated, by the fact that so many mentioned they were called to write. Because I didn’t and, still don’t, consider myself called to write. So thoughts of wondering I was less of an author quickly came to mind.

I’m one of those conservative types that when people mention their calling I immediately think of Abraham, Moses, David and the apostles. People who’ve had a very specific instruction from God to do something that He wants done and that will bring Him glory. Because if God wants you to specifically do something He’ll sure make sure you know. Won’t He?

Similarly, I’ve met and read stories of missionaries and pastors who’ve received a specific confirmation that the Lord wanted them to serve Him in those vocations.

What an honour and, what a responsibility, a calling brings with it. Do I want that?

Well, of course I do.

But over the years I’ve come to realise there are plenty of pastors and missionaries who, in the absence of the divine interaction, have chosen to serve God using the gifts He has blessed them with.

And the same applies to writing. God has blessed us with gifts of storytelling, a passion for sharing those stories and even the craft of writing. (I think I might have been away when this one was handed out. Oh, how I love editors!)

Writing in Obedience

I recently read an ebook (it’s also in paperback) by two authors, Terry Burns and Linda Yezak: Writing in Obedience – A Primer for Christian Fiction as in its promotion I saw it made mention of this topic of calling. I was intrigued to see what they had to say. By the way, it covers a lot of other ground for new authors, hence its tagline.

Terry is now also an agent and he was called to write.

In Terry’s view, a calling is specific and God will confirm it in some way. Sure, you may not have a burning bush moment or some other miraculous happening but God won’t leave it to chance. He’ll make sure you know. Terry at times felt intimidated that God has called Him to write: “He’s asking us to write His book.” (page 5)

Terry presented the alternative of using our writing as an offering to God. He stressed that God is no less interested in we “offerers.” “The only difference is that we are writing our book and offering it to Him rather than writing one He has given us.” (page 5)

Linda, now also an editor, on the other hand, experienced similar concerns that I did in not being called to write. But she came to realise that God blessed her with a gift of storytelling and for sharing her stories with an audience.

Terry has discovered that there may be specific projects that God calls us to write; for example, a specific novel. People are called to do certain things during particular seasons in life. When I reflect on the various God moments I experienced when writing Angelguard I can see God’s hand in it. The fact a few readers still write to me long after they’ve read it making mention of how it helped them in their spiritual walks reinforces that thought.

But what I do know is that we as believers are all called to love Jesus and others. And by using our gifts we’ve been given we are serving Him and the body. In continuing to offer our writing to the Lord, who knows we may one day discover that indeed we were … called? Maybe?

Linda sums it up nicely:

“It doesn’t matter whether God called you to write or you write as an offering to God. Both glorify Him.” (page 17)

I’d love to read what the rest of you think. Do others grapple with this notion?

Notes: Writing in Obedience – A Primer for Christian Fiction by Terry Burns and Linda W.Yezak; Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas

Ian AchesonIan Acheson is an author and strategy consultant based in Sydney, Australia. Ian’s first novel, Angelguard, is now available in the US, UK, Canada and Australia. You can find more about Angelguard at Ian’s website, on his author Facebook page and Twitter.

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2 Responses to Called or an Offering?

  1. Mike Brown says:

    Good questions to consider about what is a calling and the freedom to claim our calling. If one is truly called there is nothing more important and nothing can deter you from pursuing the calling. If God calls you, he equips you and brings others alongside to support you in your quest to fulfill the calling you have received. (Study the life of Noah, Moses, Elijah, Elisha, David, Jesus too)

    It is comforting to claim to be called but more than not it is self-comforting claim for something one feels led to invest in. There are in fact a lot of ministers and pastors and teachers who fall from their profession because of this reason. A genuine calling provides the perseverane that James writes about in his letter to the early church.

    Finally, if your motives (only you know your real motives – outside of God, of course) have anything connected with profit, pride or prestige, then I would suggest that you don’t have a calling but a longing egging you on. Does that mean you will be unsuccessful? Absolutely not, if the you realize success defined by your initial motives. There are a lot of writers who gloat in the spotlight they stirred for themselves, but God says that will be all you receive.

    I confess to have seen both sides of this argument I present, and ask myself, if I never am published or never make a single dollar and in fact invest heavily with no return will I continue to write? I know my answer, do you?

  2. Ian says:

    Mike, hi

    Thanks for your detailed response. I’m essentially on the same page as you. My answer to your final question is yes, but don’t anticipate I’d make the same investment.

    All the best in your writing.