Preacher or Writer? The Internal Struggle
Am I a preacher who writes? Or a writer that preaches? To some, this may be an unnecessary division, but for many, this is a serious question of calling. I know it has been for me. This post will explore this question and give my personal reasoning of why I am a preacher who writes. (Notice, the emphasis on the word personal. Every person has a particular calling they must find and embrace. This post is my take on my unique calling.)
I desired to be a writer long before being called to the public proclamation of God’s Word. It’s hard to believe at one time; I was terrified of public speaking. I recall standing behind a podium at a technical college shaking with fear before an audience of about ten peers. I am confident my fingernails left indentions in the podium. It was the longest five minutes of my life.
I feared public speaking because I fumbled with words (I still do). I could always express myself better through the medium of writing. I am no longer afraid of speaking in front of a crowd, but I still feel like I write better than I talk.
In the third grade, I was nominated to attend the Young Author’s Conference. Although tonsillitis forced me to leave the meeting early, I was able to hear the children’s author, Avi, speak. This experience planted the idea of me becoming an author. (On a side note, I think my wife attended the same conference.)
During High School, I was an awkward fellow. Antisocial and bitter, I spent time writing poetry. It was my therapy. It helped make sense of all the thoughts and emotions in my brain. My mother took noticed and encouraged me to submit my work to a poetry contest. In the end, one of my poems was published in a collection album.
These events, along with others, made me think I would live with paper and pen in a remote cabin. However, God had other plans. God’s ways do not always make sense to us ( see Proverbs 3:5-6).
When I dedicated my life to Christ, on December 16, 2001, I assumed I would begin to write as a Christian writer. I desired to be a novelist (I still do.) As I started surrendering my plans to God’s sovereign rule, I felt the Spirit press me to preach and lay aside my dreams of becoming an author. I was not to write (or not yet). God even lead me to burn a book of poetry I penned before my conversion. I was no longer the person who wrote these pieces. These poems were, in a sense, the old me.
There was a time whenever my eyes closed; I would see the word, PREACH. I knew God was calling me. Kicking and screaming I submitted to God’s prompting. However, I knew God would somehow give me the go-ahead to writing…one day. It wasn’t until pursuing my undergraduate degree that I felt a release to write. I am convinced God led me to lay, my Isaac of writing, down on His altar. I was to write, but solely for his glory. My motive changed from seeing my name on a book cover to glorifying Him.
So why do I feel that I am a preacher who writes instead of a writer who preaches? Again, this may be a trivial distinction to some, but in my case an essential difference. I wish I could find the words to convey how I know that I am to pursue preaching over my writing but I cannot. All I can say is, it’s about obedience for me.
Last week, in my reading of Haddon W. Robinson’s Biblical Preaching, I came across a paragraph that spoke volumes about this topic. He writes,
Paul was a writer. From his pen we have most of the inspired letters of the New Testament, and heading the list of his letters is the one to the Romans. Measured by its impact on history, few documents compare with it. Yet when Paul wrote this letter to the congregation in Rome, he confessed, “I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you, that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine.” (Rom.1 :11-12 RSV). Paul realized that some ministries simply cannot take place apart from face-to-face contact. Even the reading of an inspired letter will not substitute. “I am eager to preach the gospel to you… who are at Rome” (1:15 RSV). A power comes through the preached word that even the written word cannot replace. 1 [Boldened emphasis mine]
I consider myself a preacher-writer because the primary medium for salvation is through the foolishness of preaching (See 1 Corinthians 1:21). Nevertheless, I will preach, and I will write all for the glory of God.
What about you? Do you preach and write too? How do you distinguish the two? Or you may have another calling altogether. I would like to hear your thoughts. Please comment below.
- Haddon W. Robinson, Biblical Preaching. 3rd Ed. I(Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic) 2014. 3 ↵