Here’s a quick bit of (stylishly bokeh’d) background:
As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a writer. ✍🏻
Granted, that’s a little bit different from the ambition of Ray Liotta’s character in Goodfellas, but it’s just as deep-rooted, just as sincere, just as this is what I was born to do as a working class Brooklyn kid with his sights set on becoming a made man. (But just a tad less, you know, criminal.)
And yet, even though that was what I always wanted deep down, I wasn’t always consciously aware of it. Or at least, I took the deep-rooted desire for granted, writing through every season of my life in stacks upon stacks of loose leaf paper and spiral-bound journals and makeshift blogs as if by sheer instinct and necessity and creative joy — but unable to clearly see it as the Big Thing I was born to do.
The Big Thing that had a tendency to overshadow everything else for much of my life was ministry — specifically, formal ministry in the institutional church. Despite growing up in an unhealthy church and family environment, I developed a heartfelt and serious faith in Jesus and wanted to commit my whole life to the high calling of serving him as a full-time church leader. I aimed everything I did at that one thing, growing up and out of the churches of my youth and devoting myself to learning serious theology, apprenticing in church ministry, and finally planting a new church that reflected the unique values of biblical faithfulness and cultural engagement.
And of course, all the way through, I was writing! Writing theology papers, writing church documents, writing sermons and blog posts and meeting notes and PR releases. Developing and growing in my writing and creating abilities at every turn — but never quite understanding it as my genuine calling.
But all of that began to change when the church I’d founded came to a sudden end and formal ministry began to fade both in my life circumstances and my heart’s desire. I slowly began to see my calling as consisting in my core faith + the primary expression of writing itself — and writing at all costs.
In fact, in one of my very darkest moments, when that old ministry calling was falling apart all around me, I desperately prayed, “God, what should I do now?”
The answer came like something I’d always known (as far back as I can remember) but had never fully acknowledged, a simple diamond hidden underneath years of confusing, crusty rough:
Just keep writing. 💎
And I haven’t stopped since.
For the last seven years, I’ve been writing consistently on the topics of calling, culture, and creativity in a variety of spaces: my blog, my books, and articles across the Internet (at A Deeper Story, HuffPost, and Religion News Service). Sidebar: To get my very best writing sent to your inbox every single week, sign up for my newsletter, The Letter Z:
Most notably I’ve published two books, including one with a major publisher: The Light is Winning: Why Religion Just Might Bring Us Back to Life (Zondervan, an imprint of Harper Collins). And I’m working hard as we speak on the concept and outline for book three.
Alongside all that, I’ve spent years in the freelance content marketing and web design world gathering a wealth of knowledge and experience (mainly through hard knocks, failure, and some working-class ingenuity). I apply all that writing, marketing, and design experience to the work of coaching writers and creators of all stripes on how to build thriving online platforms. I’m in the process of creating resources and courses along those very same lines as well.
And the most vital aspect of creating a writing-centered online platform that flourishes? You got it — Just Keep Writing. That’s why the second part of this calling-equation is as important as the first: to help you keep writing, too.
- Jimmy Fallon and the Joy of the Lord (Life Story)
- Backward / Forward (Genuine Article)
- 3 Big Reasons You Need to Launch a Living, Breathing Blog (Creative Guide)
The end of a calling can feel like the end of ever having a calling — the death of purpose itself. Events in my life in recent years almost had me convinced that perhaps it was time to pick up my marbles and go home, to give up on ever realizing or fulfilling the sense of purpose and calling that I’ve always carried with me.
And truly, something was ending. But in the midst of such transition it can be easy to lose your grip on your identity, to lose your very self, as an old calling fades even further into the distance. But then my middle kid Pippa (age 7) gave me an important reminder about who I am:
I am a writer. (And Pippa is most definitely a cool kid.) That’s who I am, and that’s what I’m called to do. Hell, if I have any ministry at all, it starts with opening up the MacBook and getting to work.
I hope the words I write here and elsewhere help to encourage you in your calling (faith plus expression), to engage the culture around you for good, to inspire creativity within you.
And if you are a writer or creator, I hope I can help you do your creative work in a way that brings greater flourishing to your life and the lives of those around you. Hit me up.
In any case, what I know beyond the shadow of a doubt is this, and you can jot it down before you leave (or tweet it loud and proud):
“Strip everything away and plunge me into deepest darkness: I’ll find the light of life again if I just keep writing.” 🔥✍🏻🔥Tweet It
P.S. Now, as a reward for reading all the way to the end, please enjoy this gif of me getting hit in the face with a snowball: