I’ve been afraid to write this post. I’ve toyed with the idea for a couple of years now. And, honestly, I chickened out.
A couple of years ago, in the comments after one of my posts (I can’t even remember what the post was about), we had some pretty spirited discussion about whether writing was a calling. I had some thoughts about it that I kind of wanted to share. But there were strong feelings on both sides, and I decided the topic was apparently a bit controversial. I also figured I didn’t know enough to fill a future blog post. So I avoided the topic.
And then every few months as I would look at blog ideas, I would think about it again, feeling like maybe it was time to talk about it. But no, I would choose something more fun or more educational to write about (bwok bwok).
But then when we looked at re-launching the blog this month, God waved that topic in front of me one more time. I decided that discussing the idea of vocation would be a perfect post for the new year.
|Depositphotos_113388428_s-2015 by DolfinVik2|
Several years ago, my husband preached a sermon about God calling us each to a vocation. He wanted to make the point that it’s not only clergy who are called. Every person is called to something. That’s when I really started thinking that maybe my writing was a vocation.
You see, up until that point, writing for publication had been a dream. This crazy, nebulous, looong-term goal (often thwarted!). It had been something I enjoyed, so it felt like a reward. It had been something I thought would be the perfect job to have while staying home with my children that would add some financial support to my family. But a vocation? No.
Once I made my first sale and had been at the job of writing for a while, I found that I wanted to write because I loved it, because I loved the community I had become a part of (y’all included!), and because I had started getting wonderful emails and letters from readers who had been touched by the stories.
I was blown away. I had no idea my words could do that.
It started to sink in that maybe my writing could be a ministry. And if so, could that possibly mean God had called me to writing?
I questioned this because during college, while on a retreat and praying for direction in my life (and deciding between two possible career paths), I had felt God’s leading to pursue a career in microbiology. Out in a grassy field by myself, praying more earnestly than I had ever prayed, I felt this clear thought/voice in my head telling me to do whichever I would enjoy. Do what I enjoy? That felt rather anticlimactic. Honestly, I had expected the heavens to open and have God tell me if I went into physical therapy I would heal people and change lives. But what I wanted to do?? Well, I was fascinated by all things microscopic. I had loved bacteria and identifying them ever since a unit I’d had in high school Advanced Biology class. I LOVED microbiology and loved being behind a microscope—but had feared that I needed to be working directly with people to make a difference. But through further prayer, I felt God assuring me that I would work with people in the lab: my co-workers. And I would help sick people through identifying what organism was making them sick, even if they never knew who was behind that microscope. So I made my choice—the one I had wanted to make all along, and had a wonderful career until I had my first child…and felt called to be a stay-at-home mom.
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That calling was much clearer. I never doubted. Plus, my husband felt that calling for our family as well. So down the road, when I began pursuing publication, I still had small children at home. I was still involved in following the call to be a stay-at-home mom.
Had God called me to writing, too? Or was I just enjoying something fun that was adding income to the family while being a homemaker?
And then came that sermon. (Yes, the pastor’s wife really does listen and learn!) :)
My husband mentioned the Latin word voce:
Voce = voice
At first when I heard this, I thought of MY voice—as in using my voice. Sharing my faith through my voice—my writing. And I was thinking of writing a blog post about how God allows me to use my voice.
But that’s not what my husband was talking about. He was talking about responding to God’s voice.
I don’t know a thing about Latin. But it’s interesting to also note the Latin word vocare:
vocare = to call
All those words are connected. Vocation, voice, to call. Like I said, God calls each and every one of us to a vocation. Our vocation (what we do with our lives) is our response to God’s voice calling us.
I have to tell you, that sort of blew my mind. You mean God has called me to this cool career? It’s not only a dream/joy/paying job? My love of writing is actually a calling?
I think I was afraid to admit that maybe God had called me to write. If I admitted that, then I would have to go all in. Might He hold me accountable? What if I failed? What if my writing wasn’t good enough? What if my writing was okay, but I didn’t have my own theology figured out enough to write a legit message into my stories? What if I put a message in my story and I got it WRONG?
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Just got your book in the mail yesterday & read it through fromcover to cover. You are a wonderful writer and I found it easy to relate to all the characters. You see, I lost my mate just a few months ago & we loved each other dearly. Now, I'm trying to go on with my life & put things back together with the Lord's guidance. Reading your book has been a big help. – Reader email 2009
Praise God from Whom all Blessing Flow! I am genuinely enjoying "His Forever Love." I'll be finished with it soon but I had to stop and tell you about this incident. Saturday I couldn't remember where the scripture about "God knowing the good plans....could be found in the Bible. I started looking for it in Jeremiah but I started reading the book and put the verse out of my mind. Sunday morning my Pastor made reference to that same verse and at home when I started reading "His Forever Love" there it was again Jeremiah 29:11. I felt like God is trying to tell me something. – Reader email 2009
I just read "His Forever Love" Fantastic book! I cried a lot through this and did a lot of soul searching regarding my walk with the Lord. Thank you so much for being such a wonderful writer.—Reader email 2010
I am writing to say Thank-you for writing your book His Forever Love. Words can not say how wonderful and spiritually connecting it is. It reached me like no other ever has and because of that i am truly grateful. The Lord has given you a gift and speaking for many readers (i am sure) and my self, we are very glad that you have gone ahead with his and your ministry through your books. I hope you continue writing. God's Blessings always. Yours in Christ. – Reader email 2009
So many beautiful letters from generous people who’ve taken the time to write to me and lead me to realize that, yes, God was using my writing to touch lives.
For me, yes, it is a job. I do want to make money from it. And yes, I do enjoy doing it. I get unfathomable joy from creating something from ideas in my head that fly out of my fingers onto the keyboard. But it’s also a ministry. Whether you like the term “calling” or not, writing is my way to follow God’s voice.
I realized it didn’t matter anymore what crazy fears were knocking around in my head. I knew: God had called me to write. And it taught me that God can use me in different ways. And maybe He never has just one specific way. Maybe God wants us to do what makes us happy while showing His love to others in whatever way we can.
What about you? Do you think God is calling you to write (or teach, or crunch numbers, or wait tables, or change diapers, or support your family in any way you can at the moment)? Do you hear God’s voice? Or, like I was, are you afraid to acknowledge God’s voice?
I’ve had a favorite quote for many years. I want to share it with you. It’s funny how long I loved this quote before I really thought about how it could touch my own life. Maybe it can help you find your vocation, too.
“The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet.”
~Frederick Buechner--originally published in Wishful Thinking and later in Beyond Words
Think on that for a while, and let’s chat (she says, with her knees knocking)! :) Today I'd like to offer to one commenter a critique of the first five pages of a manuscript—those very important pages that hook the reader! Be sure to let me know in the comments if you’d like to be entered.
Amen and amen.
After more than 10 years of pursuing her dream of publication, Missy Tippens, a pastor’s wife and mom of three from near Atlanta, Georgia, made her first sale to Harlequin Love Inspired in 2007. Her books have since been nominated for the Booksellers Best, Holt Medallion, ACFW Carol Award, Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence, Maggie Award, Beacon Contest, RT Reviewer’s Choice Award, and the Romance Writers of America RITA® Award. Visit Missy at www.missytippens.com, https://twitter.com/MissyTippens and http://www.facebook.com/missy.tippens.readers.