by Michele Morin
As a true fan of certainty, I am filled with longing whenever I read Old Testament stories in which God shows up in unmistakable clarity. He speaks from a bush on fire, gives audible instructions for travel, and issues a rebuke from between the squared-off teeth of a donkey. Even when Samuel, young and inexperienced, failed to recognize God’s voice by its tone and timbre, Eli was snoozing nearby to set him straight.
In the Old Testament, a person’s calling was crystal clear. Elderly prophets showed up, oil was spilled, and momentous words were spoken over the head of the called one. By comparison, 21st-century followers of God seem to have been left to our own devices. Stumbling into a writing and speaking ministry in midlife, my own experience has been to recognize my vocation in the rear view mirror, as it began to dawn on me that almost every job I’ve ever held has morphed eventually into a writing gig.
There’s a certain audacity in saying, “God has called me to write”—particularly in seasons in which it is not readily apparent that God has called a corresponding population to be readers of the words I’m writing! I’m not alone in thinking this: Author and editor, Andrew LePeau wrote books and articles for 25 years before ever thinking much about any calling or vocation that might be driving his successful career. In fact, until his daughter quizzed him one day about his thoughts on God’s calling, he realized he had never before put words around his decades of faithfully following the abilities and interests God had given him.
Write Better, published by InterVarsity Press in 2019, is one expression of LePeau’s vocation to “glorify God with words, whether written or spoken,” along with his personal invitation to examine the writing life as a craft, as an art, and as a spiritual practice. With a balance of humor and sagacity, he takes on topics from the importance of thorough and careful attribution to writer’s block and the role of the outline outside Miss Whitebread’s fifth grade classroom. However, for my money, his greatest gift to readers and writers is his examination of what he has called “the spirituality of writing.” (169)
That Might Be a Call
It was a great relief to me to be reminded that there is no secret sauce to finding out if writing is my calling. If you wonder, says LePeau, then “Write. Then write some more. Then write a lot more. Try fiction. Try nonfiction. Experiment with different styles. Get suggestions for improvement from qualified people. Revise. See how you like it. See how others like it. And if those things check out, keep going. That might be a call. And if not, no problem. Just keep listening, and maybe keep writing anyway.” (178)
Since we’re all in agreement that burning bushes and talking equines are in rare supply, it was a great gift to discover the five rubrics that have guided Andrew LePeau’s sense of God’s leading and direction:
- Keep your eyes open to what God is already doing. (172)
The guiding question is, “What themes, people, events, ideas keep coming up in your life?” (173) If God is going to use your writing gift, it is likely to be within the context of an existing passion.
- Pay attention to what gives you joy and energy. (173)
LePeau was hand-stitching book bindings in elementary school and self-published a joke book in high school, so his career in publishing certainly makes sense. He poses the question to his readers: What gives you a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment? When you have answered this question, you may be well on your way to identifying your calling.
- Listen to others. (174)
If knowledgeable friends affirm you in a particular area, if they encourage you to continue, this is a sign that God may be at work, leading you to invest your life here.
- Don’t ignore dreams. (175)
This piece of advice comes as a surprise, and yet without assigning to them the weight of revelation, LePeau urges believers to be open to the creative input that comes to us as we are asleep
- Follow Jesus. (176)
If we are not faithfully fulfilling what we already know of God’s revealed will from His Word, it is unlikely that we will recognize his voice when it does come to us.
Whether or not you are called to be a writer, if you are a follower of Christ, you are called to pay attention. Be alert to all that God is doing around you, and write what you see. Then, if God entrusts to you a message and a following, you will be ready to step into the calling God has envisioned for you.
“Writing is hard work,” LePeau cautions. “Writing well is even harder.” If, however, you find that you cannot not write, if you find satisfaction in the process of prying up commas and nailing them down in other places, and if you are willing to refine your craft and to steward the message God has given you with humility, grace, and gratitude (whether anyone else ever reads it or not), you just might be called to be a writer.
Michele Morin is a teacher, reader, writer, and gardener who does life with her family on a country hill in Maine. She has been married to an unreasonably patient husband for nearly 30 years, and together they have four sons, two daughters-in-love, and three adorable grandchildren. Michele is active in educational ministries with her local church and delights in sitting at a table surrounded by women with open Bibles. Connect by following her blog at Living Our Days, or via Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.