Monday, March 14, 2016

Is Writing Your 'Calling'? (Sue Jeffrey)



As Christians we use the word ‘call’ a lot. Does God have a calling on our life? Has he called us to write or is writing a distraction from the important things in life such as earning money for our retirement or serving the Lord in a mosquito infested third world country? If writing is part of our calling, what are we called to write?
I remember having this conversation with God almost ten years ago. I was newly married and my husband and I had recently moved to Adelaide from Canberra. I was doing a veterinary locum and I had a couple of hours free in the middle of the day so I decided to go for a walk and talk to God about writing. I’d heard from a friend that the Graduate Diploma in Creative Writing at Tabor-Adelaide was a great course. I wanted to do it, but I wasn’t sure I was meant to. God had given me a clear call to ministry when I was 25 and I’d worked as a pastor for a few years. Was I meant to write fiction? Surely it was more likely that God wanted me to go an above-mentioned mosquito infested country.
I walked through the Payneham streets talking to God about this.
‘I want to do this Lord, but I’m not sure I’m meant to.’
Then God spoke to me by a strong impression in my spirit. ‘Go back to your car, drive to Koorong bookstore, pick a book off the shelf and open it. There you will find your guidance.’
I checked my watch. I had just enough time, so I drove to Koorong and walked inside. The first book that caught my eye was Max Lucado’s, Cure For the Common Life and I opened it (randomly) to page 28 and read:
'That last question trips up a lot of well meaning folks. God wouldn’t let me do what I like to do – would he? According to Paul, he would. “God is working in you to help you want to do and be able to do what pleases him.” (Phil. 2:13 NCV).’
I was stunned that the Lord would answer me so quickly and so clearly. He wanted me to write? I was amazed. I enrolled at Tabor the following year and dived into the delight of honing my craft.
Do we all need a story like this to convince us that we have a calling? I don’t believe so. Recently a friend of mine spoke at my church on this subject.  Hoa Stone felt called to go to Vietnam (a mosquito infested country!) to set up an orphanage for abandoned, disabled children. Hoa made these points in his message:
·   Your calling/life purpose is already within you. It’s part of your DNA. Look at your life and the special passion you have and that will be your calling.
·   Your past is your qualification, not your hindrance. Hardships often prepare people for an extraordinary destiny.
·   We need to take steps of faith in God. Tiny, mustard seed steps may be all we can do, but God will honour us.
·   The church is about partnering with God for the healing of the world. Together we can make a difference.
If God has put writing on our hearts I believe he will use us as part of that world-healing process. We may have a heart to encourage other believers or our passion might be to write for the mainstream and ‘build bridges’ between God and the lost. We might have a passion for social justice and write spec-fic with a prophetic edge. Whatever our heart, I believe the Lord is saying, ‘Go for it!’
What is your calling? What is your passion as a writer? Please let me know in the comments below.



Sue Jeffrey was born in Scotland but moved to Brisbane, Australia with her family when she was just a wee lass. After a childhood spent reading, drawing and accumulating stray animals, Sue studied veterinary science and later moved to Adelaide where she worked as both a vet and a pastor. After a sojourn of several years in the Australian Capital Territory,  where she also worked as a TAFE teacher and a freelance science writer, Sue returned to Adelaide with two dogs, a very nice husband, and a deep desire to write. Sue has a MA in creative writing and her short stories and poems have appeared in several anthologies including Tales of the Upper Room, Something in the Blood: Vampire Stories With a Christian Bite, and Glimpses of Light. Her e-book Ruthless The Killer: A Short Story is available on Amazon.com. Sue also paints animal portraits.

37 comments:

  1. Great post Sue. Delighted to hear how God confirmed His calling on your life so clearly. What joy it is that God uses our passions as a life calling. Yes, God has called me to write. After 6 fruitless years of job hunting, He whispered in my heart that now was the time to begin writing. That was 9 years ago. And I jumped in with a big splash. Loved it! 6 years ago, He called me out of it for a season - to do life and minister in other ways. This year, I believe He's called me once again into writing. I believe I am called to write non fiction - and Christian living is my passion. I love encouraging other believers to draw closer to our amazing awesome God. However, I don't think it's limited to non fiction since I have written some fiction too. It's been exciting following His whispers this year. Looking forward to following His lead and writing to bless and build His kingdom with all the writers at CWD and beyond. :) Thanks Sue for your beautiful post.

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    1. Thanks, Anusha. You certainly have a calling to nurture the saints :). I'm not sure if I've read any of your fiction yet. I feel my call as a fiction writer is to the mainstream but I'd like to write Christian Non-fiction too.

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  2. Really enjoyed reading your blog, Sue, and how God called you to be a writer. I can just imagine your face, as you read that Max Lucado quote in Koorong! I had a similar clear call from God to go home and start writing when I was sitting on a rock near the Mediterranean Sea on the coast of Turkey, reading my Bible! I think it's important to be thankful for such a clear call, as that is what has kept me going in the challenging times that writing brings with it.

    I also love what the speaker at your church said re our past being our qualification, not our hindrance. I was 59 when my first novel was published and people asked me 'Why didn't you start writing earlier?' I really believe though I needed to do all the other things God called me to do first before it was time for me to write. So I totally agree God uses all our past experiences to enrich our writing.

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    1. Thank Jo-Anne. What a beautiful place to be in to have God speak to you ��. The beauty of writing is that we don't have to be young and strong to be able to do it. Wisdom gleaned from life is a wonderful qualification.

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  3. Hi Sue, it was great to read about your clear answer to that tough question. How encouraging. I consider mine was a clear calling too, from the time I was very small, yet in the last decade I've tussled with the question of why my calling doesn't a salary, and wishing it would. Especially during the very lean years when my hubby was a student and our 3 kids were small. A couple of times I decided to shelve writing, reasoning that meagre results seemed to indicate it wasn't really my calling after all, yet I always took it back up again. As you say, it seems to be part of my DNA. And every so often, gentle confirmations come up that I am on the right track.

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    1. It's a faith walk isn't it, Paula? Just as well God honours our faith rather than our bank balance! I'm glad you've kept on writing.

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  4. Thanks, Sue - this is something I have been struggling with for a number of years - writing has been something I 'do in my spare time', which means I have ended up not validating it or getting much done. Everything else takes precedence. Not being employed (I am involved in a number of volunteer ministries), my time is very flexible, which means I am finding it very difficult to place structure around my time for writing. Anyway, I appreciate you sharing your journey, as it is affirming for me, also. :)

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    1. Thanks, Ruth. It's weird how having more time flexibility makes it harder to structure writing time. I have the same problem. Glad you're still moving forward. God is with us!

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  5. Great post Sue. I do believe writing is both a passion and a calling for me though at times it can be easy to doubt it, especially when others can be so sceptical and it can be almost impossible to make a living from it (as Paula points out). I agree with Jo-Anne - even though I actually started writing seriously in my teens & twenties, finishing my first novel & began approaching publishers - I think the huge hiatus between has given me a great deal more depth of knowledge as well as personal experience to draw on. Not that I think people in their teens and twenties can't write great fiction, they can, just for me, this is God's timing.

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    1. Thanks, Jeanette. I've often wished the Lord had called me to something that was more financially lucrative. It would be easier to validate it to others then. Still, we can write with out heavenly dad and be validated by him which is a lot more important. I'm glad you have a sense of God's timing. He's given you a lot of wisdom and I'm always encouraged by your support in groups like CWD.

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  6. Great post Sue. I remember when God clearly called me to be a writer and the doubts I experienced about whether this was in fact what God wanted me to do. I was in my early fifties so the little voice was saying, you're too old to start this, you have no experience, what makes you think you can write, it's just an ego trip, blah, blah, blah not to mention people I knew who thought I was dreaming, delusional and on and on it went. God literally shoved me into a bookshop one day and after browsing for a while nothing jumped off the shelf so went to the counter to ask the assistant if certain early books from a new writer I'd discovered were still in print. No joy there but while I was waiting my eyes drifted to a stand of bookmarks numbered 1 - 31 (the days of the month). I picked up my number and it said, people born on that day often have the gift of writing. While I don't really take this sort of thing on board God does get your attention in mysterious ways. I still have the bookmark to remind me that I should not doubt what God has called me to do.

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    1. I love how God does that. Your age and experience is your qualification for the job, not than a hindrance :).

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  7. Loved your post. What an amazingly specific - and immediate - answer from the LOrd! I wrote as a child (particularly from around grade 5-9, but general lack of confidence buried the desire for years. In 1998 When Ann Barlett ( someone who'd only met me 20 mins before) turned to me & told me I should be doing the MA at AU it felt like the voice of God to me! But I still struggle - successess are too spasmodic to keep me entirely believing and focused. I have the "squirrel!" syndrome!

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    1. Hehe. I knew who you meant. 'Squirrel syndrome' - I love it!

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    1. Thanks, Carolyn. God is great, isn't he?

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  9. Love it, Sue! You did my heart good :)

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  10. Great post Sue. I empathise re the mosquito-infested country :) I've been a creative person since I was a toddler, but it took me until 2007 to realise that writing could become a bigger part of my life and actually develop into something. I too enrolled in the Grad Dip at Tabor and everything changed! It wasn't long before I realised I was enjoying doing my assignments much more than I was enjoying doing my job. So another few years of honing my craft, praying, soul-searching and doors opening, and I'm now doing what I love. A few years ago, I felt God calling me to write, but to also encourage others to write. I've happily been nagging my friends and relies to write ever since :) Thanks for sharing :)

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    1. So glad you've found the way to do what you love, Nola. Marc and I would love to do something like you and Tim have done. Maybe God will make it possible one day!

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    2. And thank you for encouraging others, myself included. I so needed that and you and the cohort eased me through a welter of self doubt and baulking to now face self publishing (aren't we SO over publishers who are hard to hook unless they just want our intellectual property and/or our money!). And now I'm over that blockage (so far so good!) the challenge is invigorating.

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  11. Thank you for this Sue. Such an inspiration to keep going. As a writer and avid reader of fantasy and sci-fi I've always seen these epic stories to be analogies and a tool to open people's eyes to see God in a more wondrous way. This is my passion as a writer and I believe my calling too, to tell epic stories to get people excited for life and to see God in a bigger way. ��

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    1. That is an exciting vision, Charis. Have you ever read 'Epic' by John Eldredge? He says that the stories we've really loved are all an echo of the epic story to which we all belong.
      http://www.amazon.com/Epic-The-Story-God-Telling/dp/0785288791

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  12. Good to hear your story. At one point I felt my ministry, of some sorts, was writing as I had various articles published in our church magazine Australasia-wide over the first decade of this millenium. Then I changed churches, had another kid, started another 'ministry' of sorts - school chaplain - and find I don't have the same inspiration to write although I really want to but don't know my target audience. Still waiting on God to show me, as I keep practising with irregular blog posts. Like others who have responded here, I guess sometimes we have to write because it gives us creative satisfaction, even though it may not seem clear whether it is the outreach or vocation we may like, at this time. Maybe later our persistence will be rewarded.

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    1. Susan, I think God our father, is also creator and we are made in his image, so creativity is in our spiritual DNA. I think there are seasons in how that's expressed.I reckon you'd have to be pretty creative in your school chaplaincy role. Maybe one day God will bring it all together or maybe he'll do a new thing. All any of us can do is to do what he shows us with all of our heart :)

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  13. Well said, Sue! It took me ages to realise that God might actually want me to do something I enjoyed after years of missionary stories telling me that to do what God really wanted meant being dragged into it kicking and screaming. Also it had to be something marked by hardship. Writing is not a hardship for me, so how could it be God's will?

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    1. Hehe. So true, Lynne. Why do we think like that when he says his yoke is easy and his burden is light?

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    2. As a teenager I used to huddle in missionary meetings whimpering please God, not deepest Africa! (After western Queensland my spirit thrives on green grass!)

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    3. Hahaha! I'm sure Port Douglas needs missionaries :)

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  14. It's good to ask that question. Thanks for sharing.

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  15. I had prickles down my spine as I read this! It's a post that needs to be printed out and reread often. Good to read in another voice/font what I often have to remind myself, that God WILL honour our mustard seed ideas and steps. Thanks, Sue.

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  16. Indeed he will, Ruth. Sometimes the journey takes longer than we think but if we can encourage each other along the way we WILL get there. God bless :)

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  17. How funny, God told me today too that my past not a hindrance and don't let the devil tell you otherwise. Our great Redeemer, right? :P As a writer, sometimes I fret about getting my stuff read, but there was one time I told myself, I shall write this post, I won't care how it's read cos God will find someone to read it. That post had the most comments, especially from people who needed to be encouraged! So yes, I think our work is meant to bless others, and he has created us to bless others with words (just like he did, I suppose!). Lovely post, Sue :D

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  18. Great post, Sue. I love the sense of humour in the comment you found in the book. 'That last question trips up a lot of well meaning folks. God wouldn’t let me do what I like to do – would he?'

    The things that's in us that feels good is often what we need to so, but we've been told that life must be hard.

    It's similar to the idea that we are told should work most on our weaknesses and, in the process, we neglect our strengths. Sometimes our strengths are our gifts, and God wants us to use our gifts. Thanks for sharing your story!

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  19. My heart sings when I am using my creativity to be part of the world-healing process ... I love to write inspire and encourage people, and I currently do this on a couple of blogs and Facebook pages I have started, and through private messages. It's exciting when the Lord nudges me to check in with someone at the right time, or gives me boldness to share what's on my heart ... it's a blessing to be used by the Lord whilst doing what I love!!

    I would like to write novels for children & teens, and I have a lot of fun plotting them, but I keep putting them aside because I get too immersed and frustrated when real life needs my attention ... I worry I'll neglect my children (I homeschool them and don't yet have much 'free' time) ... for now reading in the genre, and writing plot ideas and snippets of my stories is an occasional hobby which fits into the quiet moments. I figure that if & when it's what the Lord wants me to do, I won't have to strive to make it happen.

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