You’ve probably heard the phrase “many are called, but few are chosen”, derived from Matthew 22:14. You also probably know that many people write, but few are published. That’s not actually in the Bible but I’ve found it is usually true.
Some of you are probably wondering now if you are truly called to be a writer. All of us sometimes stare at an empty screen or a blank piece of paper and think, “Am I called to write? Is writing my calling in life? How can I know for sure?”
Well, I don’t know. That decision is between you and God. But, I can offer a very simple suggestion. Don’t stop at the intersection.
In his book Wishful Thinking, Frederick Buechner wrote: "The place God calls you to is where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet."
To understand this statement, picture an intersection.
At the beginning of our lives, God equips us with Gifts. These gifts are specific to His purpose for our lives and are the means by which we serve Him, which is our ultimate calling. These gifts usually do not change but are shaped as we grow and learn.
Next, we know the world has deep, incredible Needs.
The point at which our gifts and interests intersect with the world’s deepest needs is our Calling. When we can use our gifts to meet needs, we fulfill His purpose and find our calling.
But there’s one condition. In order for God to use our gifts to meet needs, we have to give them back to Him first. We have to surrender our gifts, letting Him shape them and use them, or they can’t be used to their maximum potential.
Have you ever received a present, decided you (a) didn’t really like it or (b) didn’t need it, and then passed it on to someone else? We call this “re-gifting”. Don’t tell me you haven’t done this, because I know you have. I’ve received the fake crystal candlesticks you didn’t want.
So, finding our calling works like this. Picture a party – perhaps a gift exchange.
You receive a gift, decide to pass it on, so you re-gift it.
In the same way (but with better intentions) we must give our gifts back to God so that He in turn can re-gift them. He is the ultimate re-gifter. We are not living or working in our calling unless we have exchanged our gifts with God, letting Him give them to someone who needs them more.
Part of my job is to teach engineering students, and I often talk to them about their calling. I ask three questions and receive the same response each time.
1. Do you believe ministers are called? All hands go up. Everyone nods in agreement. Yes, of course, everyone knows ministers are called. Everyone knows this.
2. Do you believe doctors are called? At this question, some students hesitate, they murmur among themselves, but then almost everyone agrees that yes, doctors are called, because after all, they help people.
Then I ask them the third question.
3. Do you believe engineers are called? Total silence. Students squirm, look around, stare at the floor, or gaze at me with confused expressions. How could engineers be “called”? Engineers are hired, not called.
Then I explain to them a formula for identifying their calling, because engineers like formulas. Today, I’d like to share this formula with you. Like me, you may wonder if God is calling you to write or if you are simply filling pages with words because it’s something YOU want to do.
When G = N, then C is true.
Remember Buechner’s words: "The place God calls you to is where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet."
Our gifts are what make the world glad.
When my students look at me with confused expressions, I tell them sometimes our jobs may differ from our calling. We may be paid to be teachers, nurses, doctors, lawyers, secretaries, or we may spend our time doing other unpaid work, like spending endless hours watching Little League practice or cleaning the bathroom. We can use our gifts in those ways too (some of you are probably more gifted at cleaning than I am). But if our writing can be re-gifted by God to meet the needs of the world, then writing is our calling.
The formula, though – When G = N, then C is true – this only works when those gifts are voluntarily given back to God.
And there is one more condition – timing.
We may never know exactly when God wants to use our work to meet needs. We have to give up our expectations, our demands, our desires in order to let Him discern how to apply our gifts to the needs of the world. Our words may meet someone’s needs now, later, or after we’re gone. Consider the writing of Moses, David, Solomon, even President Lincoln. The timing of the re-gifting is up to God alone.
But can our calling change?
Paul says in I Corinthians 7:20 that we should “remain in the calling in which we were called.” This calling is first to salvation, then to service. The way our calling is expressed may change – think of an intersection with multiple routes – but our path remains the same. We’re all on the same journey of service to God. How He chooses to direct our paths is His decision, and may change as we move through our lives.
Some of us are lucky to work in jobs that are the expression of our calling. Others of us work but pursue our calling in other ways.
Are some writers published who are not called to write? Yes. Are some writers unpublished who are called to write? Yes. Only God knows for sure. Our job is to give our gifts to Him and let Him decide how to meet the needs of the world. At that intersection, our calling is fulfilled whether we ever sign a contract or not.
Are you gifted in writing? Consider these questions.
• If you were given a block of free time today – say 3 or 4 hours with no commitments, no obligations, how would you spend it?
• What would you do even if you had to do it for free?
• How can the words you write meet the needs of others?
• How can God take your writing and give it to someone else to meet a direct need?
If your answer is yes to any of the above, you are probably gifted in writing. It’s what you yearn to do. It’s who you are. God created you to write. Give that gift back to Him, let Him give it to others, and claim your calling.
Maybe God will use your words to entertain someone who needs a lift. Perhaps your writing will nudge someone closer to Him. Somewhere, someone has a deep need to read the words you write.
How do you know for sure if you are called to write? Apply the formula and give your gifts back to God.
Has God gifted you with the skills and ability to write?
Have you given those gifts back to God?
Is He re-gifting your work to meet needs?
Then G = N and your calling is true. Go through the intersection and own the road.
So today, before you touch the keyboard or pick up your pen, pray. Give your gift back to God so that He can re-gift it to someone else. Answer your calling, and while you’re at it, put Him on speaker so everyone else will know it too.
Then write, write, write!
Susan Codone Bio
Susan lives in Macon, Georgia and teaches at Mercer University (Go Bears!). With a husband, three kids, and a wildly erratic Labrador who often steals and eats both socks and chocolate in the same day, life is often hectic. She has published quite a few academic articles that exactly eleven people have read. In an attempt to drive through the intersection a little faster, she is working on her first Christian fiction manuscript and also writes Thoughts of an Average Christian, a faith blog which posts weekly at http://www.susancodone.com. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Today Seekerville is giving away a ten page critique to assist you as you move through your intersection. Winner announced in the Weekend Edition.