Am I doing well enough? This is something many creative people struggle with all the time and I would like to talk about it today.
First of all, I would like to mention here that this article is mainly for Creative people who are Christians. It was first written for JOGAMA Magazine’s 3rd edition in July, 2020. It was inspired by the famous ‘Parable Of The Talents’ by Jesus Christ (this can be found in Matt.25:14-30).
Remember when you were little, and you performed excellently in a test or competition that your teacher used you as an example to challenge other students? Or at home, your parents used your good behavior as an example for your siblings to emulate? Remember that feeling? Now think about how much more it would be like for the Creator of everything to affirm you before all creation. Can you imagine that? That’s the kind of affirmation Jesus was talking about in that parable.
Now back to the parable. A man who was going to be away for a long time, left talents of money for his servants. He gave five to one of them, two to another and one talent to the other servant; he shared the talents to them according to their ability. When he returned from his trip, the servant with five talents had traded with his and got five more as profit. The one with two had also traded with his and got two more as profit. But the one with one talent brought back the same talent he was given, unused. And made some mean statements about his master. Now, for the sake of this article, I would like to liken the talents in the parable to our gifts/ unique abilities as creative people. And, of course, the master is God, who gave us those abilities/ gifts.
For the Master, what’s most important is not quantity
You would notice that the servant with five talents, who produced ten, got the same amount of appraisal/ affirmation as the one who had two talents. This proves that in the Master’s mind, what’s important is not quantity, but faithfulness in service. Also, the Master does not (and would never) expect more from His servants than is commensurate to what He has given them.
Many times, as creatives, we tend to compare our achievements with those of other creatives and then begin to feel bad that we have not achieved as much as they have. We ask ourselves questions like, am I doing well enough?, Do I even measure up to the standard?” We say, “if only I had ‘this or that’, I would have done ‘this or that’”. There might even be some of us (creatives) who could resort to not using our gifts entirely just because we feel we do not measure up to what others are doing (This is even worse). But God does not expect more from us than He has given us. We just need to be faithful in doing what we are able to do now and do it as best as we can. It is this (faithfulness) that God rewards.
In case you missed it: Treat people nicely
The Master’s expectation from His servants is faithfulness with what He has given
We also notice, from the parable, that the Master did not say, “well done good and famous servant” neither did He say, “… good and perfect servant”. Rather He said, “… good and faithful servant”. The Master’s expectation from His servants is faithfulness with what He has given. I would like you to pause, for a second, and ask yourself, “what has God given me?” That skill, those friends, that family, the exposure you have, that money (no matter how small), the education you’ve got, those life experiences, that audience you already have (no matter how little), the smart phone or laptop you already have, etc. He wants you to use them faithfully. That’s all He really expects from you. Forget about the connection you don’t have yet, or the bigger audience/ fans, or the money or the equipment you don’t have yet; just be faithful with the ones you already have. Last year, during the lockdown, I released a beat tape with just my laptop, a $200 DAW, and a pair of headphones. I know I could have done more with better equipment and funds for promo, but why wait endlessly when I can do something with what I already have. Now, one of the beats have been turned into a full song, and some others in the process. So just be faithful with what you already have.
Don’t let what you don’t have yet stop you from using what you already have
I would like to state here that I am not suggesting, in any way, that you should not work at improving or developing your talents to get better or that you should not get better equipment when you can afford them. By all means, try not to remain where you are; learn, improve, upgrade, but do not let what you don’t have yet stop you from using what you already have now.
So, the next time that question, am I doing well enough? pops in your mind, just tell yourself, “I am doing the best I can” and make sure you are actually doing the best you can.