Almost always, our areas of talent and skill correspond with our areas of passion; that is, what we do well we also tend to enjoy. Usually success at something spurs on our interest, in a self-perpetuating cycle of improvement. As our gifts and skills are given to us from God, therefore, so are our interests and passions. Our gifts were given to us primarily to honor God, so using our gifts is a form of worship and praise. And this is a gift in itself: that worship can be something we enjoy, that gives us pleasure as well as God. To me, this is a sign of God’s love for us, that he would make worship and praise, which he requires, not a burden or a chore, but something satisfying, interesting, and enjoyable for us.
This is what I want my writing to be: daily worship of a God I love, getting closer to Him through the work I do, looking intently at His creation and appreciating it, using my talent for writing as a way of expressing my awe. How can I make this worship a discipline? Hal Bush, speaking at a conference at my college, said that spirituality has always been connected to physical acts: disciplines, rituals, sacraments, devotions that demonstrate a dedication to God, a willingness to give of yourself fully, to devote the majority of your time, the fullness of your soul to Him. No one and nothing other than God should receive this measure of devotion, of course, but Hal was making an application of this to our writing lives: what do you want badly enough to devote 10,000 hours to, the amount of tie it takes to achieve excellence or mastery? Three hundred days a year, eight hours a day for four years: this is 10,000 hours. It takes only about thirty days to establish a habit, for good or for ill. Combine these, and you can change the direction of your life. It requires that kind of intensity, fervor and attention too–it can’t be 10,000 hours spread out over a lifetime, for example, because there is not in that the intensity of investment, the concentrated attention and work necessary to hone a discipline.
With running, I have achieved this level of devotion: I have made it habit for so long that it is an entrenched part of my identity–I cannot imagine myself without that element of who I am. I schedule times to run and lift regularly; they are givens in my week. Missing even one session sends me reeling with guilt and frustration. Yet I don’t make the same commitment to God or to my writing, which are in some ways the same thing.
This is why: because my writing is worship. Even when I don’t explicitly deal with spiritual issues, my writing is nearly always spiritual–awed, musing, thankful, attentive, like worship should be. And I am becoming more and more convinced that it is wrong for me to let my talents lie fallow. Like the parable of the stewards (and I don’t think it an accident that Christ used the sum of money called “talents”), it is not enough to just keep my talents intact or safely to myself. I need to multiply them, invest them wisely, or it is a sin laid to my charge.
So will I do this? Will I give my devotion to this craft, to worship God well, to invest my talents for Him, to practice a spiritual discipline of writing, devoting regular time to this? I can start small, and build.