Stephen King wrote in his highly acclaimed book, On Writing,
Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.
Paul in his letter to the Colossians wrote,
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. (3:23-24 NIV)
I know you’ve heard this before, but this time, I want you to really listen. Are you listening? Okay, here it is–
Everybody starts somewhere.
That dream you’ve been rolling around in your brain, the one that makes your heart lurch and your stomach churn a bit when you think about it, it’s okay to go after it–you have to start somewhere.
For years I bad-mouthed my own writing. I’ve wrestled fear and inadequacy like it was my job, and most of the time, they’d pin me in wicked defeat. I could almost hear their boastful cackling as they’d lift their boot off my face, leaving me there broken and reluctant on the mat of self-worth.
The problem was, I didn’t want to start somewhere, I wanted to be there already.
I’m going to share some hard truths with you, I call them hard because I learned them the hard way–and because for some of you, they might be difficult to hear.
The truth is, unless your last name is Rockefeller, or Vanderbilt or Grantham, you will actually have to work at becoming a professional. (Hard truth #1)
Overcoming fear and anxiety about being an amateur among professionals, is no easy thing. I’ve been blogging out-in-public for about two years and still there are many (many) days when I feel very wet-behind-the-ears, like the new kid on the first day of school. Everyone seems to know what they’re doing and they all speak the same language which includes words like SEO and phrases like Google Analytics–please don’t ask me about either of these–ask Amy.
Starting somewhere can be scary. Somewhere feels a lot like nowhere. (Hard truth #2)
Working as unto men will leave you feeling unfulfilled and hollow–see the verse above from Colossians.
Here’s what I want you to know–
God created you for purpose, and sometimes, while serving that purpose (your art, your gifts) you’ll look like an amateur. (Hard truth #3) But look at what Paul says in Galatians,
“Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.”(1:10 NIV84)
It’s okay if the world sees an amateur, you’re not creating art to please people. You create to honor the One who created you.
The main difference between a professional and am amateur is this:
A professional doesn’t scoff at starting off in the mail room. Professionals put in the time necessary to become what they hope to be–even when they don’t feel like it. Professionals embrace humility. (Hard truth #4)
As Christian artists, we will never overcome amateur status if we are working to please the world. (Hard truth #5) Becoming a professional is more about maturity and commitment, than talent.
When we commit to our art, and own our gifts, our art blooms. When we accept that starting somewhere is more important that never starting at all, we allow God to use us in our humility.
When pride comes, then comes disgrace,
but with humility comes wisdom. Proverbs 11:2 NIV