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    Entries in Vocation (3)


    Incomplete? Yes, and Sorry.

    Dear Friends:

    A couple of you have reached out today, wondering why in the world a blog post on vocation and calling dropped in to your mailbox this morning, obviously filled with gaps and incomplete thoughts. First, thank you for caring enough to bring this to my attention. And second, this was not intentional.

    For weeks, I've been attempting to write my story, and to do so in a way that is honest and forthright concerning the various complexities that have factored in to my journey these past eight years, culminating in my call to serve as a pastor in Fort Worth this past summer, yet expressing the proper measure of appreciation for the relationships and the circumstances God has coalesced to form and shape my character. Much of what God was doing, at the time, was far beyond my grasp, but now seems only fitting. Right now, my essay stands at over 2,000 words. By the time I am done, it may run double that amount or more--in other words, a long read.

    Most often, when you hear a story of transition from one place to another, there are clean lines. My life has anything but. We simplify our stories, even when they are messy. We know better than to concede that life is that way, and we readily admit that the best stories are those with depth. But those kinds of stories are the hardest to tell, even when they are told succinctly and clearly, brief and pointed. Said differently, there is a place for both parables and Proust. My recording of my story is presently being done for my own self-understanding, but I'm also sure there are friends who want to know why my life has changed the way that it has, what our family has been through these past several months, and I want to share my life. I could tell the story very simply, in words, but I don't think I'd be doing it justice. I don't think I'd be naming those people who have played a key role, or integrating the voices of theologians and authors who have so shaped my life and inspired my vocation to the degree to which they deserve. I'm finding there are a number of themes to be developed, if for no other person but myself.

    I did not blog through the process of calling and discernment. I only had a small circle of counselors in whom I could confide. And I think the past decade, or slightly less, has been foundational for who I am, serving as a pastor, today. I've been surprised by the plot development. I've been more surprised by the Author. And I'm still discovering things about myself, a bit player, but a character nonetheless.

    Please give me a few more days to put more time and energy in to the telling of my story. Now that I know you are waiting, and curious, I will do my best to make the telling public sooner rather than later. Until then, patience.



    Rant: Meaning, Vocation, and the Way We Talk About Ourselves

    Storytelling here

    Yesterday I began an essay on meaning and vocation and the mess that is my life.

    How do you write about your own journey without sounding self-serving or sentimentally pious, particularly when you are called to the vocation of pastor?

    Can it be done?

    Too often, when I have heard or read stories of vocation and calling, the narrative arc is simplified: "I was one place. God called. Then I went another place. Everything is now golden. Hooray!"

    I think things are more complicated. My story is, most definitely.

    But every step has been glorious in the way hard and complicated things are glorious, filled with God's presence and playfulness.


    Like to Write? :: An Interview With Jeff Goins

    I write.  A lot.  And when I'm not writing, I'm usually thinking about writing.  I'm processing ideas, making connections, forming criticism, or affirming the finer qualities of something that I've seen, read, or heard about.

    This inspired me to get in touch with Jeff Goins, who also likes to write.  He is very passionate about encouraging others to write as well.  You can find Jeff's blog here, or you can follow him on Twitter.  I contacted Jeff to ask him a few questions about writing.  What follows is our exchange.

    Hopefully you'll pick up a few tips.  I know I did.

    You write a great deal about writing.  What inspired you to encourage and instruct other people about the craft of writing?

    I started writing on writing, because it was a subject that I felt particularly passionate about. I also wanted to grow as a writer. At first, I thought that this disqualified me from blogging on the craft, but then I found out that many "expert" bloggers on certain subjects (including Problogger) started out as amateurs, wanting to become professionals. I'm finding that I'm in good company; not to mention, the best teachers are learners.

    For many writers, the hardest part is getting started.  Where do you look for inspiration and ideas?

    I look at what's available to me. I consider the following: books I'm reading, movies I've seen, stories that friends have told me, and what's happening in the world. But mostly I look inside myself. What's happening in my life? How is it affecting me? How am I growing as a result of it? What lesson am I supposed to learn?

    What about discipline?  I know that many writers struggle with procrastination.  What are some of the best ways to make sure you sit down to actually do the work?

    I'm terrible at discipline, but here's where I land on that: Just make a covenant to do SOMETHING every day. I wrote over 1000 words the other day, responding to a 15-minute daily writing challenge. I was amazed! I just try to write a little every day. From Pressfield to Grisham to King, I hear this idea resonated amongst some of the most successful and motivated writers of today. It's not about quality or quantity; it's just about doing it. Every single day.

    Whose writing do you really enjoy?  What bloggers or authors do you find stylistically compelling?  Do you model yourself after anyone in particular?

    For books, I like Hemingway, Donald Miller, and C.S. Lewis. For blogs, I enjoy Seth Godin (of course), Michael Hyatt, and Keith Jennings. In terms of who I'm trying to model myself after, I tend to write more memoir style in long form (offline) and more like Copyblogger in short form (i.e. blogging).

    Lastly, how would you describe the intersection between your creative work as a writer and your convictions as a Christian?  What does your faith have to do with your work?

    I like what Madeleine L'Engle says about faith and art: All true art is Christian art (my paraphrase). That is, if we believe we are created in the image of a creative God, then we have no excuse not to steward our creativity and use it to change the world. My faith is my work. And my work is my faith.