Don’t Pick the Fruit Too Soon

When I was in my late ‘20s, Dr. Morris Weigelt, then Professor of New Testament at the local seminary, asked me to team-teach an adult Sunday School class with him. That experience was an eye-opener and a beginning point for me in many ways. It awakened in me a burning desire to be more involved in communicating scripture, whether through teaching or writing.

I talked to Dr. Weigelt about my desires, and he gave me great advice: Don’t pick the fruit too soon. Don’t be in a hurry to write for publication when you’re young. Too many have to spend their later years apologizing for what they wrote when their thinking was not yet fully mature. We feel ready long, LONG before we are.

But when God calls us into His service, aren’t the call and the need urgent?

Though I’ve never been a pastor, I am unmistakably called into full-time Christian service. I am called into writing and publishing. And I’ve learned that our calling, that deep, burning desire, comes early in the process. It is part of the preparation and direction-setting, not a promise of immediate fulfillment. We want to scratch an itch the minute we feel it. But God’s tasks take far more preparation than we realize. Though Jesus’ work was so vitally important, God waited centuries before finally sending Him to us. And when He came, He was a growing youth and a blue-collar worker for 30 years. He was an itinerant preacher for only three.

Now in my 60s, I’m still learning to be patient and follow God one step at a time. I’m not the leader, I’m the follower, the servant. A servant doesn’t choose his task. A servant goes where his master sends him and does whatever He asks him to do, when He asks him to do it.

So what do we do while we’re waiting?

During my years as product developer for a major church music publisher, I worked closely with lots of excellent writers. Their educational background in music varied widely, from nearly nothing to earned doctorates in music. But there’s one thing every successful writer had in common. Every one had written for their own local situation sometime early in their career. They had written for real, live people, and had learned from hands-on experience.

That’s why I pass along the wisdom I was given, which has proven so very true: Don’t pick the fruit too soon. I advise young writers not to focus on writing for publication. If opportunity knocks, open the door, but focus on writing for your local situation. Write for real people with real needs.

God’s preparation is lengthy, but it is always wise and thorough.

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