Say Yes to the Call with Tyler Smith (Re-Air)
Do you find it difficult to make time for writing? Do you wear many hats, or have countless distractions throughout your day? If so, you’re not alone. But you CAN find time and focus to write the book God has given you.
This week’s Publishing Secrets guest, Tyler Smith, has learned the importance of making time to do what you feel God has called you to do — and for having confidence in your God-given abilities, even when you feel inadequate or underqualified. Listen and be inspired to make a plan, take action, and finally write and publish that book!
In this episode, you’ll also hear:
- How one basketball game changed the trajectory of Tyler’s life
- The difference between confidence and arrogance — and why Tyler says confidence is a game-changer
- The importance of setting aside time and removing distractions to focus on writing
- Tyler’s advice for the writer who feels God’s call but wrestles with self-doubt and a busy schedule
Reflecting on a Life-Changing Basketball Game
Between youth ministry, sports writing, and high school basketball coaching, Tyler lives what he calls a seasonal life: his focus tends to change depending on the time of year. Many people would find it extremely challenging to make time for more writing alongside all of those other commitments, but Tyler says writing — and in particular, telling and engaging with stories — is something he’s always enjoyed.
“We as humans connect the most with stories,” Tyler says. Pointing to Jesus as the greatest Storyteller of all time, Tyler adds that, no matter the setting — be it listening to a sermon or watching a sports match — he’s always drawn into other people’s stories and always looking for a story to tell.
That’s why he begins his book, Searching for Seven, with the story of a high school basketball game that ultimately changed the direction of his life. During this game, Tyler was not playing well and had been arguing with his coach. “I remember sitting at the end of the bench thinking, ‘This is not looking good for my career in basketball. I’m not where I wanted to be.’”
But then, just when Tyler thought he was finished playing for the night, his coach put him back in the game — and he played better than he ever had before. Thanks to his performance that day, his basketball career took off, and a few years later, Tyler was recruited to play basketball at a Bible college.
Although Tyler thought he was only attending that college to play basketball, God had other plans. The opportunity to work in youth ministry one summer turned into a long-term calling. But without that one high school game where Tyler found renewed confidence and his basketball career changed, it’s possible he might never have ended up at the Bible college that led him to youth ministry.
Finding Confidence in God
Tyler’s story is a valuable reminder for us all. In the moment, we don’t always see or understand what God is doing. But sometimes God is working behind the scenes to put the pieces together and bring about a greater good than we could possibly imagine.
Additionally, Tyler’s story reminds us of an important distinction between confidence and arrogance. While we should always keep in mind that our gifts and talents come from God, it’s also important to believe that we are capable of accomplishing great things with God as our strength.
What matters is that “we are putting our confidence in God, recognizing where the abilities come from,” Tyler says. “That’s a game-changer: when I can face every day and every challenge knowing He’s got my back, He’s put me in this position. And it’s not really my ability, it’s what He’s given. And I’m going to use that ability through Him.”
Making Time & Space to Write
Tyler says he had the idea to write his book several years before he actually started working on it in earnest. “I knew at some point it was going to happen,” he explains, “but life is busy. There’s a lot going on. And so for many years, I did not make the time to start writing.”
Instead, Tyler would write down notes and ideas here and there. He had a general idea of what he wanted to write about and which stories from his life he wanted to include, but it wasn’t until later that he made a conscious decision to set aside time to write.
When he decided it was time to focus on his book, Tyler took weeks off from work and used the time he would normally have spent at his job working on his book instead. Sometimes he would work at coffee shops, while other times he would go outside to be inspired by nature.
Tyler explains that when doing something important — be it praying, writing a book, or spending time with family — removing distractions is key. While some people may be able to multitask effectively, Tyler has found that trying to juggle multiple things at once only divides his focus and prevents him from giving any of those things the attention they deserve.
And, as Tyler has learned, environment plays a huge role in eliminating distractions and helping us focus on the task at hand.
“Everything should lead us to worship, even if it’s sipping a wonderful coffee or listening to a song that I love,” Tyler says. “I see the stars, I’m out in nature, I’m hanging out with friends — all these things should call us into worship. And so for me to be most creative and most in tune with God and what he wants me to do, those environments are key.”
As Tyler reminds us, writing the book God has called you to write doesn’t have to be a burden or a painful process. By finding the right environment and focus, you can make it into an adventure of sorts, and actually enjoy the process of writing!
Pushing Through Challenges
Of course, no matter how enjoyable the process may be or how focused you are able to be, writing a book is a challenging endeavor. While Tyler believes his entire life led up to him writing this book — which made the process much easier than it might have been otherwise — he also acknowledges that setbacks and challenges are unavoidable parts of life.
“There will be big challenges,” he says, “But push through. Keep going. Even if you wonder, ‘Is it worth it? Is there going to be anyone who cares?’” You never know where God may lead you, so if you feel called to do something, keep pushing through, even when it gets hard.
Think about this way: There are many times in life when we, like Tyler in that high school basketball game, get second chances. But how we respond to those opportunities can make all the difference.
Maybe you, like Tyler several years ago, have heard the call to write but haven’t actually taken action yet. Maybe you’re in that space between having an idea and following through on it. If so, Tyler advises you to take action on what God has called you to do instead of putting it off, and surround yourself with people who will help and encourage you to keep going.
“Believe fully that, if you’ve ever felt even a nudge from God, there’s a reason for it,” Tyler says in closing. “Celebrate the fact that you have a call, that you have the ability to do it. Find some help. And go after it.”
Tyler D. Smith is a pastor, NBA sportswriter, basketball coach, and author; he has also worked in the Christian music industry. He graduated from Lincoln Christian University and has served in ministry since 2005. Tyler resides in Indiana with his wife, Katelyn, and their two daughters, Addi and Ellie. Visit Tyler’s website here. Follow Tyler on Instagram.