Saturday, February 2, 2019

Finding Your Calling as a Writer

by Tim Suddeth @TimSuddeth

Have you found your calling?

Are you pursuing your calling?

When I finished college, I asked God for my marching orders. Wherever He wanted me to serve, that’s where I wanted to be.

And then I waited for Him to answer. And waited. And waited.

For years.

I thought there had to be a communication problem. Either He wasn’t speaking or, as hard as I was trying, I wasn’t hearing. And since God is . . . well, God. And perfect. And all those omnis. The problem had to be me. Again.

But the problem wasn’t a communication issue. It was an understanding problem. I didn’t understand what calling meant.

Your Calling

In Jeff Goins’ book, The Art of Work (which I thoroughly recommend), he claims that everyone is searching for a purpose, that something that is roiling inside them that won’t leave them alone. He calls that your calling, your vocation, or your life’s work.

The reason you are born.

Yes, God, give me that.

But my problem was, as Goins goes on to explain and show, I thought of a calling as a destination, instead of a direction. A place, not a journey.

I expected to hear God say, “Here’s your desk.” Not, “Hop on and hold tight.”

You might have been one of those kids in the first grade who already knew what you wanted to be. My classmates had their answers when some adult asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

“A teacher.” “A baseball player.” “A soldier.” “An engineer.” “A mama.”

I didn’t have a clue career-wise. I just wanted to be faithful and successful. Whatever those meant. And to be out of school.

Goins writes that this wasn’t the book he had planned to write, but that it was the one he was supposed to write. (Man, as a writer, that sounds awfully familiar.) “A calling is like that too, I suppose. It is the thing you never thought would be , the twist in the plot that makes everything else come together, and somehow in the end you cannot imagine otherwise.”

Yep, a god-thing.

Your Calling Is a Journey

I’m sure that you noticed there were some problems with my thinking of my calling as a destination. First, you waste time, waiting and doubting your relationship with God. Second, you could try, fail, and decide that isn’t for you. (The curse of death to a writer.)

In his chapter, Painful Practice, Goins discusses the teachings of Psychology professor Carol Dweck. She says that most people have one of two mindsets: the fixed mindset or the growth mindset.

With the fixed mindset, one is born with a certain amount of finite abilities and they cannot exceed them. You can either sing, draw, or cook or you can’t. Or as Popeye said, “I yam what I yam.”

With the growth mindset, you can always get better. “The goal is not so much to be the best in the world but to be better than you were yesterday.” Everybody can improve themselves.

I think the growth mindset is mandatory for a writer. If you submit anything, (And to get better, you need to be submitting your work. Even if it is just to your critic group. You need others’ feedback to make sure your writing what you think you are.) you will face rejection. But isn’t that how we grow. And through that process, you discover who you were meant to be.

Garrett and Eric Miller

Goins tells the story of Garrett and Eric Miller. When he was five, Garrett had a golf-ball-sized tumor removed from his brain, leaving his blind, mute, and paralyzed. He had to relearn how to walk, talk, and go to the bathroom. And he was only given five more years to live.

As his father Eric was watching the clock during one of his son’s treatments, he realized time was running out on his son. But, then he realized it wasn’t just his son’s life that was coming to an end, but everyone’s. “We needed to be living life all the times. Because none of us are guaranteed that we’re going to be around an hour or two from now.”

Six months later, after a year of radiation and chemotherapy, Garrett crossed the finish line of his first triathlon. His father ran behind him, pushing his wheelchair.

Goins asked Garrett if he ever thought about what life would be like if he’d never had cancer.
“I’d never thought of it, to be honest.”

His father answered, “The reality is these are the cards we’ve been dealt, and we’ll just play them the best we can.”

Eric had always tried to steer his son in the direction of what he could do, not what he couldn’t.

Through this journey, Eric has founded the Rush-Miller Foundation to provide tandem bikes to blind and low-vision children. He is an international speaker. I’m sure that if you asked Eric if this is where he saw himself in first grade, he would say no. But through accepting what came in his life, he has been able to reach people all over the world.

Remember when I said earlier that I wanted to be faithful and successful? Goins concludes The Art of Work with, “In the end, success isn’t so much what you do with your life, it’s what you leave behind. Which may be what calling is all about; leaving a legacy that matters.”

Please share your comments with us below. And remember to hang on and enjoy the journey. I mean, think about the Company you’ll get to share.


Tim Suddeth has been published in Guideposts’ The Joy of Christmas and on He’s working on his third manuscript and looks forward to seeing his name on a cover. He is a member of ACFW and Cross n Pens. Tim’s lives in Greenville, SC with his wife, Vickie, and his happy 19-year-old autistic son, Madison. Visit Tim at and on Facebook and Twitter. He can be also reached at


  1. Well said Mr. Tim. I don't know where this calling of being a Christian author is going to take me. Faith ensures that I trust God to lead me where He wants me to be, to do the things He has called me to do. My job in all this (you call the journey)? Just enjoy the ride. Thank you for such great inspiration this morning my friend. God's blessings.

  2. Tim - I've been reading your blogposts for several years now, and this is a whole giant step forward on your journey. Powerful message here, my friend. This will be on my mind all day now. My sense of you the only time we've met was that you have found your calling, and I'll bet Madison agrees. Thanks for this post and congrats in advance on getting your book across the finish line.
    Jay Wright; Anderson, SC

  3. Tim, this is so timely for me. I'll retire from teaching in a few months, which will free up more time for writing. I've really been soul searching to try to get a direction for my writing. I have a few projects pulling at me, and when I lean toward one, the others resist and call me back. I like the word "roiling" that you used. That perfectly explains how I feel inside. But it's all good. I feel either direction I go is good...I just want to listen closely to make sure it's my Jeremiah 29:11. Thank you for sharing today

  4. THis a really good Tim. Thank you for these wonderful words of encouragemenr!

  5. Thank you for this wonderful reminder that it is really about leaving a legacy! And we can be sure that by following God in the direction He leads (callings) we will leave a legacy that matters!