Hmm.....am I a Christian writer or a Christian who writes? The question begged an answer when I attended my very first writer's conference in Edmonton in 2000. Fearing that I might sound stupid, I didn't dare to open my mouth and ask someone to clarify the difference.
However, from all what I've scribbled in my journals, posted on my blogs, published in magazines and newspapers in the last decade of my writing years, I'm convinced that I'm more of a Christian writer than a Christian who writes.
Last Tuesday, at our last writers' group meeting, I put forth the question Brenda Leyland had asked us to write about this month. At first the women didn't understand the difference between the two, but when they did, they mostly saw themselves as Christian writers rather than Christians who write. But when I poked a little deeper, some began to see themselves slanting towards the second one.
Tina, the one, who teaches in our women's Bible study group and had written a variety of Bible course materials, definitely saw herself as a Christian writer. When asked what her great desire to share with the readers would be, other than sharing the Gospel, she blurted out, " History and travel."
I could see the excitement in Tina's eyes when she exclaimed those two words. Being an ardent reader of history, an expert on researching, and a teacher at heart, she'd be a great author on history and travel if she follows her heart. But for now, she's doing what she's called to do at this time- working a full time job, leading/teaching Bible study and following a Master's degree.
Another young woman, who joined us for the first time that evening, shared with us what being a Christian writer meant to her. Writing being one of her passions, she had hosted a blog site that had featured articles on everything from golf to cooking. About an year ago, she even signed a contract with a popular magazine to write a series of articles anonymously on sex related matters. Although she grew up in a Christian home, she gave little thought to God once she left home. As such, she saw nothing wrong in doing the assignments, and started working on them.
During that time, she said, something terrible happened that turned her life upside down. Devastation drove her back to Christ and made her to rededicate her life to Him. She then tried to finish her assignments for the magazine from a more loving and Christ-like approach. But she couldn't write them any longer. So she pulled out of her contract and gave up the opportunity of making a good sum of money and writing credits.
In order to use her talent for God's glory, she has now joined the writers' group to learn, share and grow with fellow Christian writers. As her writers' group, we thank God for leading her to our group to inspire and be inspired by the unique experience and skill she brings with her.
As Christian writers, we love to say we want to glorify God through our writing. It's our offering, we modestly declare. If we are not watchful, publication, praise and promotion can make us cross the line and make us use God's name for our glory.
I just finished reading the book Oswald Chambers: Abandoned to God, and I loved what Oswald Chambers had written to a friend before he undertook his first job as a teacher in art at a college- "Pray for me that the Spirit of God will fill me to the drowning of self and the exalting of Jesus."
Later, in one of his letter to his wife Betty, Chambers wrote from Belfast, "I speak and people get blessed. But I long to hear them say,"He made me love Him (the Lord) better.
At another time, Chamber went a step further to say, " What we are is of much more use to God and our fellows than what we do."
In other words, who we are in Christ is more important than what we speak, teach or write for His glory.
As Christian writers or as Christians who write, if we have the same yearning as Chambers, there would be little chance for us to waver in our focus or worry about the decisions we make.
Presently a children's story for secular market is stewing in my head. If and when the story breaks through my writer's block and find it's way onto the paper and to the audience, I may transition to a Christian who writes. Until then I consider myself as a Christian writer, because that's what I write even if that writing is just for me.