Monday, February 23, 2015

Writing Myth #2 Called by God to Write

 by Gina Welborn

After being involved in numerous writing groups over the last decade, I've noticed a difference between Christian and non-Christian perspectives. This post is not about faith,, sorta. This post is not about values. This post is not about language or sex in books.

It's about two myths I've repeatedly heard Christian writers tout as truths.

#1 Everyone Has a Book in Him/Her
#2 Called by God to Write

To read Myth #1, click here.

So let's talk Myth #2.  
If God has called you to write, He will equip you. 

I've been struggling with this subject since I began writing fifteen years ago because what I heard as "truth" didn't feel right. And I wasn't sure what was wrong because how could it be wrong if all these spiritual people were saying it?

For the last four years, I've attended the ACFW national conference and heard speakers, fellow writers, and industry professionals talk about "God's call to write." It's almost gained this spiritual mysticism because when someone says anything contradictory to it, there is an outcry, almost, of heresy.

Sometimes I'm tempted to ask, "Do you truly believe this, or are you saying this because you want to come across as being more spiritual? And if God calls people to write, then why not people to be truck drivers or pharmacists or farmers? Why isn't there a convention for farmers called by God to farm?"

I'm not saying I don't think God calls people to be writers, or to write specific things. It's the next step that this belief takes.

When God calls a person to write, then God will equip that person to write.

The equivalent of that is if God has called a person to be a doctor, then God will equip that person to be a doctor. Or if God has called a person to be an NFL quarterback, God will equip that person to be an NFL quarterback.

Do you want that person doing surgery on you? Do you think any NFL team will sign a guy solely because he says God has called him to quarterback?

Or maybe writers are just more special than other professions. I'm a writer. We're not.

Education, training, practice, and experience matter. And matter big.

I've met men and women who were "called by God" to preach. Were they great preachers? Not necessarily. Preaching well is more than delivery. You need to know how to write a good sermon, or else you're just an orator. A few people are naturally good orators. But oratory is a learnable skill. Writing a good sermon is a learnable skill. Preaching is a learnable skill.

When my husband was a music minister, ladies would tell him how God had called them to sing. Some sang well. Others . . . didn't. Just because you believe God had called you to sing does not mean you sing well, or that you deserve to be the lead soprano. And when they weren't chosen for a solo . . . .

The majority of people who talk about being "called by God" are Christian writers and people in the ministry.

A calling is not equal to skill.
Skill does not equal a calling.

The reality is, very few people are gifted-by-God writers who didn't have to read a craft of writing book or take a class on creative writing. Most writers are learned writers. Just like becoming a surgeon or a nurse is a learned process. But it seems I keep coming across fellow Christian writers who tout the importance of God's call to write, as if His call is equal to Samuel anointing the shepherd boy David.

Beyond that . . .

A call does not guarantee success.
Success does not require God's call.

There seems to be this unspoken belief that if God has called us to write, then He is obligated to get us published, make us best-selling authors, get us huge contracts, blah blah blah. Why not? We submitted to God's will. If this is His will, then shouldn't He make all things work for the good?

Clearly, God owes us success because He's called us to do this.

I've been writing for fifteen years. Never have I felt God's call to write. I started writing because of a challenge. I continue writing because I enjoy the end product. And for those who have experienced God's call, success in God's eyes is your obedience to what He's asked of you. Writers with God's call on their lives are not any better (or worse) than those without. And if God has truly called you to do something, then let your left hand not know what your right is about. Take time to think how your "testimony" comes across to others, both Believers and not.

To all who follow Jesus, we are given two commandments:

To love Him. To love others as we love ourselves.

As you do those two things . . .

Just write.
Just paint.
Just sing.
Just practice shooting hops.
Just sketch manga, buildings, and people.
Just take photographs.
Just run.
Just build.
Just drive.
Just play the tuba, violin, clarinet, drums.
Just study.
Just do accounting things.
Just sell insurance.
Just produce tv shows.
Just sew square-dancing dresses, quilts, and dog costumes.
(I would say just doctor, but I don't want to advocate cutting people or pets for the purpose of sewing them up.)

And if you feel God has called you to do something specific, then as long as it honors Him and doesn't harm others, then do it. And learn to do it well.

QUESTION OF THE DAY :: I recently watched Anna Karenina with Keira Knightly and Jude Law. Early in the movie one character says to Anna, "I would rather reach the end of my life wishing I hadn't done something than wishing I had."

What about you? And has there ever been a time when you know God called you to do something and you did/didn't do it?

Gina Welborn is the author of eight romances, including one ECPA bestseller and her newest release, Holly Daze, an Amazon bestseller in Christian Historical Romance and Short Reads. After a decade in Virginia, she now lives in Oklahoma with her pastor husband, their five Okie-Hokie children, and a slew of pets.


  1. Very helpful post, Gina. I so agree with this: "success in God's eyes is your obedience to what He's asked of you."

    God does call some people to be surgeons. But they still have to go to medical school and practice for years and years. God calls some people to drive trucks. They go to school and practice. God calls some of us to write. We need to practice, too. But the bottom line is, whatever we do, whether it's change a diaper, work in a call center, write a novel, or sweep the floor, we should do it to God's glory, give it our finest efforts, and serve Him in it.

  2. hi Gina
    I really like this post. My first thought as I read your two truths list was: "many are called... few are chosen" - meaning (to me, that is...) while you may be called, you might not be chosen to be the uber successful writer with scads of books published. you might quite possibly be called to write just for yourself - not share what is put to paper with the world.

    I do like your take on things: love God. love others. and just DO what God created you do do/be (which is not necessarily the same thing as to what you may be called to do - does that make any sense?)

    Wonderful food for thought. As for your question, nothing pops to my mind right now, but if something does come to mind, I'll be back.

  3. Gina, I've written my answer 3 times, erased it, and started again, so here goes...

    Yes, I believe God gave me the compunction to be a writer when I was very, very young.

    No, God did not give me the ability to write a best seller - or if he had, I am not aware of it among all the other 'stuff' in my brain.

    Yes, God put people in my path to instruct me how to write a best seller should I choose to accept their methods.

    No, I don't always do what I'm taught.

    Yes, I've always felt compelled to get back to writing whenever I've taken a different direction - sometimes it's taken years.

    No, I don't feel that God has made any promises about the results of writing.

    Yes, I believe that if I write the stories that are on my heart, they will reach the person or people God intended and through them, God will be glorified. Regardless if they are published or not.

    No, I don't need to know who read it. All I need is faith that if I do my part, God will take care of the rest.

    Is writing my true calling? Only God knows.

  4. Nice post, Gina. I think it's been over spiritualized because people feel like they have to have a "message". Which is also why a lot of Christian fiction seems preachy to the world. You're so right too that success is obedience. Like all other offerings, we need to leave what to do with it up to the Lord.

  5. Some really good points in here. On the other hand, I do think God "calls" or maybe a better word would be "guides" or "directs" or "leads" people into all sorts of jobs including farming and truck driving. I want God to lead and be involved in everything I do. But of course you're right that a call does not equal skill or success. If I didn't believe the Holy Spirit was involved in my writing (or anything else in my life) I would personally stop doing it. I believe if we are in tune with God, he will place desires in our hearts. We will feel his pleasure when we do the things he desires for us to be doing. That is the essence of being called.


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