“Fair warning: I’m not a preacher; I’m a writer.”

That’s what I used tell crowds and congregations as I stood up with microphone in one hand and my Bible in the other. For most of my life, I self-selected my calling as exclusively in the realm of the written word. I wasn’t prepared for how once you become a published writer, people assume you speak and teach, too.

I eschewed preaching for a range of reasons: shaky nerves, insecurity about my lack of seminary training, distrust of the Christian celebrity dynamic. Deep down, I believed I wasn’t called to it. But communities of believers kept asking me to come and share my thoughts on God and church, Scripture and theology, and my own church regularly asked me to preach.

Years into reluctant preaching, I started a sermon at a church in Raleigh with that self-deprecating remark. Afterwards, the pastor looked me dead in the eye and said, “You have got to stop saying that. The gift of God is clear. We all see it.”

In my faith tradition—the charismatic, happy-clappy variety—we can play a bit fast and loose with the word “calling.” We say things like, “I feel called to this church” and “I feel called out of this relationship” and “I feel called to be a pastor/doctor/teacher/mother” and so on. We can feel called to all sorts of places and events and people and things. Usually we mean that we sense God's blessing on our forward movement, and we feel like God is with us in that very thing we’re about to choose.

My thing was always writing. I am pretty typical of both my tradition (charismatic non-denominational) and my generation (Gen X); I self-selected my calling ...

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