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I’d like for you to read this article prayerfully. My intent is not to discourage any writers – God knows we need you all! But a few months ago, I wrote a blog entitled Born to Write??? It occurred to me that for every person who should be writing, there is probably someone else who’s trying to write, but writing is not really what they’re called to do—or maybe they’re not supposed to do it now. They’re watching other writers write, reading writers’ blogs and getting the message, “If I did it, you can do it, too! C’mon!”

Well, America is certainly a place where anything is possible. Almost anyone can work hard and experience success here. We like to tell our kids that they can experience success in anything they want, if they just try. Not true. Not if your definition of success = pleasing God. God loves to open doors for His children – but that same love also closes those doors He does not want us to walk through.

I experienced this firsthand when I tried to sell insurance. I can honestly tell you it was the single biggest career foolery of my life. I was AWFUL. Always nervous, I hated cold-calling, I hated calling people back. I actually didn’t even like the product I was selling. It was all a hot mess. 

Why did I try it? Because it seemed…glamorous! Flexible schedule, residual income, a super-busy, important-looking job in a people-related business.Those who talked me into joining their team made it seem almost effortless. Granted, some of them had been selling insurance longer than I had, but after a while, even the new people outperformed me.

I thank God every day that He graciously let me fail at insurance sales, forcing me to get back in my writing lane. (Truly, success in an “uncalled” area can be a distraction from your real destiny.)

Lesson learned: Everyone in the body of Christ was created to do a specific job (Ephesians 4:7-8). In other words, if you are a knee, don’t waste your time going to ear-conferences, reading ear-books, trying your best to be an ear. Be happy for successful ears, but don’t follow their plan for ear-success because it won’t work on knees. Instead, learn all you can about knee-life so that you can be the best knee possible for His service.

With that in mind, I think it’s important to know when writing is not for you.  After conducting dozens of workshops, seeing the same people year after year who haven’t finished their book, I may very well have arrived at some of the REAL reasons I think some people (believers, specifically) say they want to write books but never do (procrastinators aside). OR they do write the book, but it turns out to be a frustrating, discouraging experience.

  1. Perhaps you are supposed to be writing—but not necessarily for the masses at this time. Many of us sing and lift our voices to God in praise, but we were not meant to record albums. Does God still receive our praise? Yes. Writing can be the same way. Be obedient to the writing He has assigned to you now (whether it’s your journal or the church bulletin). After proving faithful and getting into the habit of writing regularly, you may find that writing books or stories comes much more easily, as an extension of Your relationship with Him.
  2. Understand the difference between having a story and actually writing the story. Writing can be very challenging, isolating work. If you have a story to tell but don’t actually have the desire or the skills to write effectively, consider getting a co-author or a ghost writer. Their gift coupled with your story may be an ideal match. You might also consider other ways to share your story – video or audio teaching, podcasting, etc.
  3. Be clear about why you want to write a book. In your private time with God, examine your motives for wanting to write a book. Is it because you want to touch people’s lives or because you want people to admire you? Is it because you want to see Christ glorified through your gift or because you want to be proud of yourself or feel important? It’s okay for people to help each other, but helping yourself under the guise of helping others rarely fools people, and certainly does not fool God. Be honest before Him and ask Him to reveal His great love for you and cause you to write (or not) for reasons that glorify Him.
  4. Be patient – maybe it’s not time to write the book yet. If you’ve got two kids who are both in diapers, I submit to you that now is probably not the time to pour all of your energy into writing the great American novel. When it is time for you to write, God will arrange your life so that you can actually accomplish this task.

What about you? Have you ever tried to do something you weren’t called to do at the time? Have you ever done something in pride and suffered the consequences? What advice or comments can you share?