Friday, October 28, 2011

Spiritual Gifts And Fiction Writing?

How does one's spiritual gifts impact their writing?

Some of you might be holding your breath. Spiritual gifts can be a controversial subject, especially on if they all are used for today. Well, release that breath. My comments are not at all concerned with the controversy. If you believe that you have at least one spiritual gift, we're on the same page.

Do I hear some people pulling out their pens and paper? Oh, you want to write down the tips I'm giving on. Well, put that pen and paper away. I'm not going to tell you how to use your gifts in the writing; I'm pointing out how you're using them already. You may already be aware of this, or you may not.

First, let me give a little theology breakdown. Many have divided the gifts into three categories: Speaking (teaching, exhortation, word of wisdom, etc.), Service (helps, leadership, giving, etc.) and Sign (tongues, miracles, etc.). For the sake of this blog, I will consider prophecy to be a speaking gift, and consider all the other sign gifts to fall under the realm of Service gifts.

My belief is there are four ways on how your gifts are being used in your writing. I will concede that way #4, “none of the above,” is a possibility. (But I'm not convinced.)

#1 Driver's seat.

In some cases, your spiritual gift is tied in with your purpose for writing and the development of the theme. Let me give an example from myself. I believe teaching is one of my gifts. I started writing my novel because I wanted to teach people about apologetics. Thus, my gift is being actively used in my writing.

Two notes. First, the gifts that are actively involved with writing will tend to be speaking gifts. Your writing might be used to teach, encourage, share wisdom or knowledge, or even share prophesy. One isn't writing, usually, to exercise the gifts of help or leading or giving or showing mercy.

Second, there can be a danger. Your gift can become your main character. In my case, I want my murder mystery to be a mystery, not a lecture on theology. I've read a book by a person who might feel he has a prophetic leaning, and some of his views interrupt the enjoyment of reading the book.

#2 Passenger Seat.

Let me give an exercise. You want to picture that your MC is a good person. Which of these activities would you think of having your character doing?

  1. Seeing a problem and taking leadership in solving it.

  2. Pulling out a wallet to help someone on the street or contributing to a worthy cause.

  3. Buying someone a meal or some other physically compassionate action.

  4. Taking the time to assist somebody else accomplish their need.

My hunch is if you have the gift of leadership, giving, mercy, or helps, you would automatically think of having your MC show that gift as a means of having the reader admire him/her. Or you would have the villain do just the opposite. While your writing may not be an active exercise of your gift, it would have an impact on your writing.

#3 Back seat.

There are times where your gift is not present in your writing. Instead, your gift is waiting for you to stop writing. When you're done, then your gift will leap into action.

For example, let's say you have the gift of administration. I don't see much of a use of that gift while you're behind the typewriter, but I bet a writer with that gift has an easier time than some in getting things ready to market. A person with the leadership gift will be dying to form a team to promote the book.

It will show in other ways. A person with the gift of giving will probably be giving away a disproportionate number of books because, well, they have the gift of giving. A person with the gift of teaching will be glad to teach about writing or devise discussion questions based on their book. A person with the gift of encouragement will be excited to talk to young writers and help them press on.

Okay, these are my thoughts. You can go to McDonald's with these opinions and a dollar cents plus change to purchase a small coffee. But I'd like to know what you think. Agree with me? No? Let me know.


  1. Great food for thought.

    I communicate best by writing. How interesting to know that writing is part of the speaking ministry.

  2. It's hard to imagine employing writing successfully as anything but #1, but you did bring up something intriguing in your explanation--how are you writing a novel that teaches apologetics?

  3. WOW -- very thought and analysis inspiring. I must admit or confess, I haven't before applied the gifts passages to my writing and my characters. . . but I will from now on! Thanks for the TEACHING. . . :-)

  4. This is what I've been saying for a long time (and have talked about it) and while I use my writing to engage my spiritual gifts, writing is a tool I use, like a microphone or a pen. Anyway, I love posts like this and it's such a good thing to bring up. Thanks, Jeff!

    Everyone should find their spiritual gifts and then find ways to use them. Sometimes I use writing, however, to just entertain, but I know it when my spiritual gift is showing up in my writing. It's just different.

  5. Comment to Mrs. P, and apologies for the delay in replying.

    How am I teaching apologetics in my novel? First, I make it easy and set the novel in an apologetics conference. Second, as you'd expect from the setting, some of the characters are apologists. Third, other characters (some of my main characters and several of the suspects) showcase the need for apologetics. For example, two suspects are in a cult; I have a couple of characters that are liberal, and one at a church that is nothing more than a social club.

  6. Clarification based on Sharon's comments; sorry for the delay in replying.

    My point is that if a person has a speaking gift, that gift could be exercised by the written word as easily as the spoken word. A person with a non-speaking gift can write without using their gift in their writing, though it might influence their thought process or be used after publication in the marketing stage.