Friday, September 4, 2015

Apples to Oranges by Jim Hart

As creatives we often find ourselves comparing our abilities to those of another talented person. He writes better than I do. She sells more books than I do. He has a contract with a bigger publisher. She has thousands more Twitter followers than I do.

Notice we don’t compare ourselves to those who have failed; we aim for the successful ones! But did you ever stop to think just how much failure has been experienced on the road to success? We tend to look at the end results and not so much the process of getting there.

If we’re not careful we can slide into coveting territory. Look at the wide range of Biblical characters who, at one time or another, wished they were someone else, or were jealous of what another had.

Saul, though he was the king, was jealous of David.

Some of the Disciples wanted what the other Disciples had.

Simon the sorcerer wanted what the Apostles had.

So how does this affect us as? It can darken our own dreams and make us hesitant to reach for those grand goals. It hinders us from moving forward. We lose, or fail to gain, momentum. It stops us from pursuing our passions.

Here are a few things that we can do when we find our eyes too focused on another's lot in life:

1. Focus on your own strengths.
This is perhaps what we need to remember most. Our abilities are ours alone. They make us unique. Work hard at recognizing those unique things that are helping you develop your own style.

As a guitarist and pianist I cannot, and probably never will be able to play as fast as many other musicians. But here’s how this has played out: To compensate for lack of speed, I’ve given time to studying what makes a good melody. If I can’t play as fast as I wish, I’ll play something that at least is pleasing to the ear.

And my vocal range is also pretty mediocre. But I don’t let that stop me. I work with what I have. As a worship leader I have to constantly lower the key to those new and popular worship songs I know our congregation loves to sing. I’ve found the range I’m limited to seems to be comfortable for most people – not too high, not too low. I think that’s why our relatively small congregation sings with the volume of a larger congregation. So Chris Tomlin, I’m not, but that’s been ok – because it benefits the congregation. I try to view this weakness as strength.

2. See yourself as a writer who is made in the image of God.
Our creative God has poured His Spirit into you. You are wonderfully and fearfully made. The Lord knew all the days in your book before you were even considered. (Psalm 139:16). He determined eons ago that you would be a writer. Remember that He has made each of us with unique talents and abilities. (Romans 12:6-8) When we purpose to use them for Him, He will be faithful to lead and guide us, and to grant us His peace in our work.

3. Never stop working at improving your craft.
We improve by doing it, not just thinking about it. There are countless resources designed solely to help us improve our writing skills. Never stop learning and never stop writing.
4. Remember not to compare apples to oranges.
You can take an apple off the tree and bite right into it. When you take an orange off the tree, you’ve got to peel it before you can take a bite. How does this relate to our comparing ourselves to others? I don’t know….I didn’t have time to figure that one out.

But think of it this way: Sometimes you want an apple. Sometimes you want an orange. Sometimes the apple is exactly what is needed, as in apple pie. Sometimes the orange is exactly what’s needed, as in an orange-banana smoothie. Sometimes you crave that warm slice of apple pie. Other times a cool orange-banana smoothie is the only thing that satisfies.

You get the point. Recognize that readers will always reach for something different. Sometimes they’ll reach for Steven James, or Debbie Macomber. And sometimes they’ll reach for you!

What have you done to resist comparing yourself to some one else?


Joyce Hart said...

Good Blog, Jim. We just have to do the best we can with the best God has given us. Sometimes we might be surprised with what He does with those gifts.

Diana Flegal said...

Great encouragement Jim for writers and agents. :-)

Unknown said...

The perfect encouragement we all can use. Thank you. Jackie

Linda Glaz said...

What a great post! I am one of those who wishes I could write like.....and I need to learn to be happy writing like Linda. Thanks so much for this great look into ourselves.