Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Calling vs Hobby...

I never wanted to try to tackle this question before, because it's SO subjective. But it plagues so many writers of Christian fiction that I can't ignore it anymore, especially not when I feel God has given me an answer.

I'll share it with you, but remember, this is "my" answer. If it doesn't ring true in your heart, then move on and don't stress. All I can do is share my experience and see if it relates to you or not. Don't let this post hinder you if it's not what's in your heart.

How's that for a lighthearted blog post introduction? haha!

Okay, seriously. You've heard authors say they are called to write Christian fiction. And you might passionately agree.

Or you might be one of those who sit there and think "Well... huh. Am I, too? How do they know they are? Where is my writing on the wall? How can I tell?"

Or you might just stand there and say "You're called? That's cool. I just like to write."

Calling vs. Hobby.

Seems so tough to determine, but its pretty much what you make it.

For me - I'm called to write. I know this for several reasons, one being that writing has been a part of me since I was a little girl. I really don't remember ever NOT being in love with written words and journals and books and notebooks and pens. I started writing short stories on our first home computer when I was seven years old. The passion only grew. It was like God had put that in my DNA.

But there was a distinct moment when I was about 12 years old, when I found a Robin Jones Gunn novel under a pile of laundry in my older sister's room, that stands out to me even today at 28. It was WHISPERS from her Glenbrooke series, and after reading that first venture into Christian fiction, I was done. I knew. I was supposed to write romance like that. Clean, quality novels that inspired women toward romance, that inspired them to not only wait for the right guy but to wait for the Lord. The true lover of our souls. To inspire in readers what that book inspired in me.

There are moments since then, as I pursue that calling, that cement the calling for me. When I get busy and stressed over the details of life, when I get caught up in the endless to-do list and wonder if I'm supposed to be writing now at all, I only have to look at one thing. When I'm closest to God, I want to write. When I'm in a church service, I'm eager to work on my story. When I'm having a quiet time and feel the Spirit, I'm inspired for my novels. The burden is lifted and the path is made clear. When my heart is still before my Creator, He reminds me what I'm supposed to be doing.

That's what I hold to when I doubt the calling on rough days.

Maybe it looks different for you, but that's my story.  :)

Here's another truth - just because you aren't sure you are CALLED to write, or even if you know you're not CALLED to it in a ministry form, doesn't mean you won't be successful and doesn't mean that God won't bless your socks off through your writing and open doors. If writing for you is a hobby or a business or both or neither...who cares?

So what? Does it change anything? Does it make you want to stop writing? NO :)

Don't get caught up in the semantics. Don't get legalistic on your soul. Calling, hobby, ministry, business, whatever - God can use all of that when our hearts are right. How awesome is that???


  1. Really awesome! And thank you, Betsy, for your words of inspiration and encouragement.

  2. I 100% agree. Some people really do just like to write as a hobby. It's something that they can do on the side. These people may not even be particularly good at it; they just like to write as a hobby, just like I like to play the guitar as a hobby. That certainly does not mean it's my calling.

    I also know I'm called to write for the same reasons you mentioned. I wrote my first story when I was three (well, I told my mom what to write then I drew the pictures) and I never put my pen down since then. Being an author is all I've ever wanted to do with my life, and even as a preteen, I knew that one day I would be published. I can't explain it. I did, however, receive confirmations from the Lord about this. Even at the age of ten. But even if I hadn't received those, I would know that it's God's calling. When I was about fourteen I had a very strong desire to write YA Christian fiction books, however I had no idea that genre actually existed! So one day I decided to Google and see if it did, and was so thrilled to find that the genre did, in fact, exist. I ordered several Melody Carlson books, then went on to read the Christy Miller Series by Robin Jones Gunn.

    I have such a strong desire to use the power of fiction to minister to others, to show them the power of God's love and possibly bring healing to their lives. Not even just through fiction, but through devotions and articles as well.

    I tell my mom all the time that I don't understand how some people just don't like to write. I literally can't wrap my mind around that. I am so glad that God called me to write; I don't want to do anything else with my life.

    Anyways, this comment is getting pretty lengthy, so I'll stop here. =) Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Betsy!


  3. Love this post! I know what you are talking about. I've had to explain it to the young writers I mentor - some people write for fun or because it is the "in" thing - others are called. Thanks for this great post!

  4. Thanks Rita! Glad to help :) I'm so glad this post encouraged.

    Alicia, thanks as well.

    Tessa, I'm totally jealous you can play the guitar. My secret dream is to rock a fiddle one day. hehe. Melody and Robin were always my fav YA authors too. After reading Glenbrooke series I read part of Christy Miller. SO fabulous. That's so awesome you have such wonderful clarification at your age. What a blessing :) I bet God has big things for you girl!! Can't wait to see what.

  5. Christy Miller did that for me in high school! I was blown away, inspired, and wanted to do something like that someday. (I still soak up Robin Jones Gunn books with deep delight.)

  6. I don't know if writing is a calling of mine, I know it'll always be and always has been a part of me. For as long as I can remember I loved to read and would think it'd be the most awesome thing to write books. I didn't write a lot as a teenager for lots of reasons but I thought about it. I never knew what to do with ideas. Then, I was like 20 and had been praying about what to do with my life and how to use my spiritual gifts (I and just take a gift test in small group). I remember sitting at the kitchen table on the computer and feeling the word "WRITE". I've been perusing it to some extent since then,

    And I agree on Robin Jones Gunn she has a gift and her writing is filled with this warmth like none other. Sandra Byrd, too.

  7. I can definitely relate. I've always loved writing, and if you ever manage to find me without a pen and notebook, you automatically know something's wrong with me. However, writing is really just a hobby for me right now. I feel like I'm called to write, but I don't know exactly what right now. One day I'll think it's one thing, later I'll think it's something else. For the most part, I just feel as though maybe it's not meant to be right NOW. Loved this post, by the way. :)

  8. Ashley, yes! That been much of my experience.

    A book has forever been in my hands and writing has always beckoned me in ways I could not explain. When I was in high school and college it was mostly poetry and I have a binder with hundreds of them. The stories I wanted to write weren't ready yet, it seemed. Then I started my family and I had a long season in my life where it was "not meant to be right NOW" - in fact, I recall a time when I had a deep sense to put it down (and a partial story still waiting years later). And on the tails of that was the feeling that there would come a day years down the road when the season would be right. This year, that season ripened for me....I felt the Lord drawing me back to the world of writing in bigger ways than before. (And during that off season...well, he had plenty of other things planned!)

    1. That's awesome... So glad I'm not by myself, here. Lol. Yeah. I know that the right time will come eventually because I believe that my ability to write is a God-given gift, and I don't believe that God gives gifts that He doesn't expect us to use for his glory. :)

  9. Cjoy, you know Robin is the keynote speaker at the 2013 ACFW conference....I'mjustsaying ;)

    1. Betsy, I do know! The very thought makes me giddy....hahaha!!

  10. Great post! I'm still in high school, but definitely feel called to write. I've always dreamed about writing my own book, but for the near future I think magazine writing feels more the right thing for me. I even started my own online magazine for teens a few years ago. I love how you described always having a love for writing, can definitely relate :)

    And side note, I love how everyone is talking about Christy Miller! :) I loved those books and am re-reading them just for fun. Those were the first Christian fiction books that I truly respected, for lack of a better word. Often, that genre can come off as a tad cheesy and even though the Christy books are a tad cheesy at times, there are so many great lessons in them and I appreciated them so much. Though after I finished them the first time around, i kinda stepped back and was like, "huh, Christy had a guy madly in love with her in every single book. soooo realistic ;) " still great books though!