“Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don’t be impressed with yourself. Don’t compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.'” | Galatians 6:4-5 MSG.
This scripture has been my little piece of wisdom for the week, I’ve really been mulling over it. I love the perspective The Message translation provides on a lot of these old time favs, too… especially this one, it’s so blunt and to the point! Breaking it down, there’s a lot of gold in there for the season I’m in at the moment – reading and writing again, developing a new routine for the year, seeking direction and goal-setting , you get the picture – so I’m going to share those thoughts with you real quick.
‘Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that.’ It’s a straightforward way to put it, but this isn’t a small task in my mind. ‘Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given’. Safe to say I’m doing a little bit of that in my own life right now. Weighing up what my ‘gifts’ or skills are up against where my heart is and where my passions lie. Looking at the work I’ve been given (that might be my ‘work’ professionally, as well as charitable or volunteer work, and then maybe even ‘work’ as a friend, a wife, a sister, daughter), considering where I am and where I need to be. ‘…and then sink yourself into that’. In other words, be all in! Don’t do it half-heartedly.
‘Don’t be impressed with yourself’. Pride is a killer. We’re not talking about the good kind of pride here – dignity, self-esteem. We’re not talking about confidence. We’re talking about the lofty, arrogant pride that considers itself superior to others. Egotism. Pride as the antonym to humility. Pride that craves recognition. One of my favourite thoughts on pride is this one: “The arrogance of success is to think that what you did yesterday will be sufficient for tomorrow” (William Pollard). Again, we aren’t talking about confidence here: so celebrate your wins, and give yourself a high five! Then get back to it. This is where humility is so important – and I could seriously write a whole blog post on humility. The point I think this scripture drives home is to work hard, but stay humble.
‘Don’t compare yourself with others’. Comparison is a killer. As Theodore Roosevelt so famously said, “Comparison is the thief of joy”. In my experience, that couldn’t be closer to the truth! I think it’s applicable to so many different facets of life. I recently started up a side business that’s been ‘in the works’ (sigh) for literally months and months and months, partially because of a lack of time, but to be honest, also partially because once I got some momentum, a number of similar businesses began popping up and, in my mind, were already ten steps ahead of me. Of course I still believed that I had a point of difference and a place in the market, but it was just the thought that they had ‘got there’ quicker I had that made me feel discouraged. How crazy is that though? In hindsight it’s such a ridiculous thought, and it’s not one that I let myself play with now; but still, don’t we do that to ourselves sometimes? My husband is a musician and I’ll often hear him joke that he’s “quitting music” after watching an incredible live show, or hearing a killer record. Of course he’s kidding, but isn’t it true of how we can get to thinking? Comparison to me is one of the worst kinds of distraction. It’s a motivation killer either way you look at it. If I compare myself with someone ten steps ahead of me, I might feel discouraged. In contrast, if I compare myself with someone ten steps behind me I might get a swelled up head or just slack off, because hey, I’m doing way better than they are, right? I don’t need to hustle! In the context of your work – the thing(s) that you know you’ve been put on this earth to do – you are so uniquely you. Comparison will literally steal your joy and make you unhappy. Don’t play that game.
‘…take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.’ I love that last little thought. Not just ‘do the best you can with your own life’, but ‘do the creative best you can with your own life’. It makes me sad when people think that they aren’t creative! We’re all creatives in our own right, even if you can’t necessarily express it using a paintbrush or a guitar. My interpretation of doing the creative best you can with your life is just keeping things fresh. Finding new ways of doing day-to-day things. Finding your way of doing day-to-day things…! There are tonnes of great books on cultivating creativity if you’re stuck on that one (and let’s face it, we could all use a little inspiration every now and then). Either way, your work – and your life – isn’t meant to be a thoughtless drag. Do your creative best, and watch things flourish.
Hope this encourages somebody. Now go do your thang! x