Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Career or Ministry? by Hope Toler Dougherty

I recently reconnected with a college friend decades after we lost touch. We had such a sweet time of remembering and catching up, and then she said, “Now tell me about your writing career.”

That word career grabbed my attention.

When I think of career, I think of my twenty-something self poised with a Master’s degree in one hand and lots of enthusiasm for teaching college students in the other. Since then, I’ve celebrated several milestone birthdays. You know the ones I mean, right? They end in five or zero. I’m closer to retirement now than I am to that earlier version of myself.

I suppose I do have a career in writing, though. I have business cards and ink pens with my name on them. I have a website, a Facebook author’s page, and a Twitter account, which I’m still trying to figure out.

But, honestly, my writing seems more like a ministry to me. I began seriously pursuing my writing journey as my children began graduating from high school. Teaching no longer appealed to me, so I looked to writing to keep busy and sane while my day job as a mother-of-children-at-home diminished.

This journey has kept my mind on interesting characters, has introduced me to new language—platform, tweets, one sheets, pitching—has taught me about myself and about God, and has kept me from wallowing in my tomb-like empty nest.

The ministry isn’t only for me, however. The main character in Irish Encounter is a widow who learns to embrace the second part of her life after her husband dies. I’ve heard from several readers who either because of divorce or the death of a spouse have faced a life different from the one they’d planned. The story speaks to them about hope and anticipation and new ideas. They’ve talked to me about considering new plans because of Ellen’s journey in Irish Encounter.

Fiction is pretty cool if it helps people see that God always has possibilities for us. Jeremiah 29:11 promises that He has plans for us, plans to prosper not to harm us.


What about you? Is God offering you possibilities you didn’t see coming? Is He preparing you for a second, or third, or fourth act? Are you willing to take a step out onto a new path?

I’m so glad I took His hand when He invited me on my writing path. On what new journey is He inviting you?


Hope Toler Dougherty holds a Master’s degree in English and taught at East Carolina University and York Technical College. Her publications include three novels, Rescued Hearts, Irish Encounter, and Mars…With Venus Rising, as well as nonfiction articles. A member of ACFW, RWA, and SinC, she writes for She and her husband live in North Carolina and enjoy visits with their two daughters and twin sons. Visit her at