The following are thoughts I’ve been pondering sparked from a discussion about Christianity and the arts with Lisa Neely and Amber Wood, during the annual writer’s festival at Lee University:
Conversations about calling tend to slip so easily into conversations about physical tasks and vocation, but calling is much more concerned with relationships than human undertakings. nAs a believer, I have a calling on three levels.
First and foremost, I am called to God, to draw near to His heart and encounter Him in relationship. Before my actions, He wants my heart staring intently into His.
Second, I am called to people, to serve the bride of Christ, the Church, and those God still desires to become His bride.
Third, I may be called to a vocation, to an avocation, to any number of tasks, burdens, or careers. Only on the third level does calling differ from individual to individual.
This is significant because when I consider success in my calling, the first levels of calling leave room for drastic differences between apparent worldly success and faith-filled success. First, calling means earthly success that gets in the way of relationship with God is not true success and smells of idolatry. Second, calling means success requires sacrificing for others—family, church, community—when there is a need more important than my personal artistic agenda. Yet third, calling means that God creates moments and places for my love of writing and the arts to bleed over into the first two areas of calling and bless the heart of God and His people.
Practically, what does that mean? It means that my words may never make their way into a New York Bestseller List, but they don’t have to in order to be significant. It means that I choose to write because I love to, because God gave me a gift for words and a joy for finding them, because if what I say affects just one person it might be enough. It means that I continue to hone my skills and choose to write with awareness of my community, of needs around me, and of those who have stories to be told but no voice with which to tell them.
It means I watch for the places where words and the burdens of the world overlap.