Posts Tagged ‘creativity’

My son Chris and I are both artsy types, and neither of us are really into sports that much. As a running joke, when someone is talking sports stuff, one or the other of us will usually say, “Goooo Sports.” Now that’s not to say that I have no knowledge of sports at all, I love football and NASCAR racing, but I’ve had very little interest in the other sports. I’m really not into basketball for example. Now there was a brief shining moment when I would watch some playoff games, mainly with my older son Brandon who was a fan of the Chicago Bulls. This was during the era of Michael Jordan. That man could fly. I loved to watch Jordan play, even if really wasn’t that into basketball.

The other day I saw a post calling Mr. Jordan the GOAT, and my first thought is oh no, another great man falls to a scandal. After all why else would someone call someone as great at Michael Jordan such a mean name? (Yeah, I know, “Goooo sports!”) It wasn’t long before I saw another post saying that in fact Lebron James was the GOAT. “Oh, no”, I thought, “What did he do?” I mean I know I haven’t been following basketball for a decade or two, but even I know Mr.James is a human highlight reel, and I am also aware of the amazing charitable work he is doing. How could anyone call him a GOAT?

It was about this time that someone put me out of my misery and explained that GOAT is an acronym for “Greatest Of All Time.” It wasn’t long after that I saw commentator Jalen Rose get into a humorously heated argument with another analyst over which of these two was the GOAT, the other man having said that James would beat Jordan in a one on one game to seven by a score of 7-3. Now of course there is no way to know who is the NBA GOAT. There are too many extenuating factors, and the two of them are quite a few years apart in age so it would not be fair to put them up against each other today. Short of someone invention a time machine the GOAT question will remain unanswered.

Now why am I writing this, to an audience that has more than a few people who could care less about the NBA (Gooo sports!) Because there is tremendous pressure on people in all fields to be great, especially in high profile sectors like the arts and ministry. Will you ever be the GOAT in your field? The odds are against it, but the incredibly good news is that’s not your job. Your job instead is to be the best you you can be (maybe that is a GOAT of a kind), doing the best you can with what you have been given to the glory of God. This means we could take a page from the Jordan/James playbook, so to speak. They are among the greatest ever to play their game because of intense work ethic, and we can do the same. develop your gift, use it for all you’re worth and let God take care of the greatness part. See the truth is, we can’t be the greatest of all time, because we serve the greatest of all time. forget the praise of men, live to hear Him say well done and trust Him to bring you to where He wants to take you and to reward your efforts.

He is the GOAT, let Him make you as great as He wants you to be.


So I was on a Facebook forum this morning about one of my favorite entertainers, and a question was asked. ”We always talk about what we like about ___ is there anything you don’t like?” My first thought was, “That’s a weird question.” and my second was ”Am I really entitled to an opinion on that.” I read a few of the responses before remembering I have a busy day to get to, but of course it spurred a thought. A few of the posts were from someone who allegedly worked with said entertainer for 20 years. Now of course anyone can say anything on the internet, but let’s give the guy the benefit of the doubt. It’s the different between 2D and 3D.

The entertainer in question is widely renowned musician among the best in the world and the greatest of all time. His reputation is also pretty good, but there is one thing that seems to bother a lot of people. He seems to be a pretty profound introvert. Personally that never really bothered me, but my relationship with him is 2D. I’ve seen him on screen most of the time, I’ve seen him perform live several times, but there is of course an invisible wall between him and I, so it’s really still 2D, like looking at a really big photo or watching on a huge screen. That’s as far as our relationship has progressed. He can be an introvert if he wants. It’s how he’s wired, he owes me nothing I just really appreciate his contribution to the world as he’s shared his gift. I’ve received what he has given and received it gratefully. Would I love to meet him? Sure, but I’m okay with things as they are.

So why am I sharing this? Well this isn’t just for big-time people with big careers. It’s for everyone with a platform–everyone who creates something and shares it with the world. In other words, it’s for you and me. I look at it like this. I love going out to speak and paint at other churches and venues. I feel like I really get to sow into people and I do everything I can to be a blessing, but I also understand that the relationship is different than my local church. The people don’t really get to know me well in the one to two hours I share with them before I pack my things and head for home or the next venue. I mean people can connect with me beyond that on social media, the web and I like that, (I’m an extrovert.) but the relationship with most is 2D. They see what I do, hopefully they like it, God works through it and it blesses them. I’m not their pastor, but hopefully their pastor can help them navigate any changes God has made, while I’m out on the road repeating the process.

The church I pastor is different.These relationships can very quickly become 3D because we do life together. We get to really know each other. They know my strengths and my weaknesses. I eat with them, I visit with them and we build stronger relationships. I’ve discovered I need to have both kinds of relationships and I’m guessing so do you. When I was traveling exclusively I made some lifelong friends, but I really missed the relational things you don’t get going from place to place. Conversely I could not give everyone I meet the attention I can give my church folks without sacrificing, family and friends, not to mention having the time to do the creative work that made the initial connection, the thing they know me for, the primary gift I can give them.

As creatives people often come to know us through our work. From there the relationship varies and we kind of get to decide how much we give to others. The artist I was referencing at the beginning is seen by some as a recluse. I’m sure that’s not the case. He just is a person who has set up boundaries that work for him. We all will need to do the same. Give of yourself and give generously, but also remember if we try to please everyone, we end up pleasing no one. Trust God and ask Him to help you see the boundaries. Even Jesus got away from the crowds and rested.

There was that Sunday School song we had when we were kids. Be careful little eyes what you see… and remember that one verse that said be careful little mouth what you say? Well a lot of people need to work on that one and now that we can broadcast our thoughts to the world on a whim, it is more important than ever.

Case in point, Roseanne Barr. Her show was rebooted and seemed to be going very well. There were a few things a lot of my readers would find objectionable, but over all, it had some pretty funny moments and it looked like it might be in for another long run. Then she tweeted. One tweet and it’s over. The show is cancelled, just like that. Unemployment in 144 characters. Cast and crew find themselves out of work and some of those folks haven’t worked since the last time the show was on the air. In my opinion, the network was right to do what they did, Barr’s comments were pretty unconscionable, but I do feel for the cast and crew. Pay attention, there is a lesson to be learned here.

Before I say what I am about to say, remember, I think Ms. Barr’s comments were reprehensible, but in our day, people’s offense meters have hair triggers. When we make a statement, we better prepare for quick and harsh consequences. Gone are the days of meeting each other half way and having constructive dialog, now we just shout each other down on our way to shutting each other down. Again this is not in defense of Ms. Barr or her comments it is simply a statement to be careful what you say. Offend someone, anyone, and the gloves might just be off, and the price might be high. Are you prepared to own the fall out of your words?

Does that mean we should shy away from being offensive. I don’t really see how you could do that in this day and age, but the Apostle Paul did give us some wonderful advice. Speak the truth in love. Say what you have to say in the most loving, kind-hearted way you can, and before you speak, or tweet, ask yourself a question. “Am I speaking this out of love and concern or do I just want to fight?” Maybe even ask a couple of follow up questions, like: “Am I right or just self-righteous?” “Will anyone be helped, edified or blessed by me making this statement?” “Will the person I am directing this comment toward be helped, edified or blessed by what I am about to say?” and the one we should ask first, “Is this statement even true?” Remember, once you hit send, it’s out there forever. Look, there are times to stand your ground, and there are hills you should probably die on, but a political argument usually should not be one of those. If you decide you have to speak, or tweet, are you willing to live with the fall out? More importantly are all the people who will be effected by what you do willing? All this should be considered before we open our mouths or put fingers to keys as the case may be.

Before you speak maybe you should heed the words of James 3:5 ‘Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. 6 The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.” Sometimes when you start a verbal fire, a lot of people get burned.

Use wisdom.

I posted my top ten albums on Facebook and my wife challenged me that I posted no Christian albums. Well she wasn’t following close enough because I did in fact post two of the ten, to be truthful there were many others I could have listed but those two were my absolute favorites. I am posting my ten favorites here, along with a video from each. Again it’s really hard to do this, but this is an overview of some of my favorites.
1. DC Talk-Jesus Freak

2. Newsboys-Take Me to Your Leader

So many great songs on this one so I went with the title track.
3. Chris Tomlin-How Great Is Our God

Chris Tomlin is one of the great songwriters of the church. but in this case he outdid himself. He was commissioned to reimagine Amazing Grace. It might already be the greatest song of all time. Chris made it better.
4. Audio Adrenaline-Underdog

5. Skillet-Awake

6. Third Day-Offerings A Worship Album

7. David Crowder Band-Church Music

I love Crowder. As it was with Chris Tomlin, there are so many great songs to choose from. I ended up going with this one because it has one of the coolest videos ever made.
8. Stryper-To Hell With the Devil

9. Mercy Me-I Can Only Imagine

One of the best songs of all time, period.
10. Casting Crowns-Casting Crowns

When I first heard this song, I actually wept, a lot. This song is prophetic and a wake up call to the entire body of Christ.

Okay I know I said ten but there is one more I need to add (okay there’s a lot to add but I need to get other things done. Mark Schultz is among the best musical storytellers of our time. See if you don’t agree.
11. Mark Schultz-Mark Schultz

A friend challenged me to share my top ten albums of all time on Facebook. It was kind of fun to reminisce but ten was a tough pick, because there are literally hundreds of albums that could have made the cut, both from my younger years with all that great classic rock that I loved so much, and all those Christian artists I’ve really come to enjoy. For a guy with no real musical skill, I sure do love music. The thing was, each of the albums had a story, a way that the artist touched my life through their music.

Sometimes as I was thinking about it, I let my mind wander. What would it be like to meet some of those artists? Would I like them? Would they like me? Would I end up being a goofball fanboy stammering and unable to put the words together, or could I see myself as a fellow artist and have the kind of talk I’d really want to have. Of course this led to another thought…

You see, there was a time in my life when I went to a lot of rock concerts. Would you believe 70 to 80 in a five year period. This was back in the classic rock period, and do you know how many of those musicians I actually got to meet? Zero—not a one! But then something happened. I met Jesus. No this is not going to one of those hokey Christian posts where I talk about how Jesus is greater than all the celebrities in the world. I know that is true, but it would be so predictable. No, instead I want to say I gave my life to Jesus and when we do that it means our whole lives. When I became a Christian, I had a lot of things to work through, and I had to separate myself from some of the things from the prior years. (I was also trying to get sober at the time.) One of those thing was my rock and roll habit. You see some of the lyrical content was just not what I needed to be ingesting in that period. Fortunately I discovered the world of Christian rock which helped me to adjust.

As I progressed in my faith, I felt the call to ministry and began to work with youth, God did something pretty cool. My students were really into rock music too and before long I was taking kids to rock concerts (albeit Christian rock concerts) and people actually respected me for doing it. Then I discovered a youth ministry resource called Interlinc that used the themes for Christian rock songs as the jumping off point for Bible lessons. I submitted and became one of their writers. Now all of the sudden I was meeting all these amazing musicians and I began to realize that God was blessing me once again.

Fast forward a few years and I’m about to get to meet another of my creative heroes, a comedian named Brad Stine. I saw him years ago at a huge event (and several times since) and became a big fan. Now, in a few weeks, my church will be hosting him as he brings his “The God Experience” tour to my town. I am so looking forward to this. Why do I share this? Because there is nothing God can’t do, and nothing from your life that He cannot use to His glory and along the way, He will often find ways to bless you in ways that no one else can. Trust Him, give Him everything and see what He will do with it.

Here’s a little clip of Brad Stine in action.

I got this book as a review copy from the publisher, in exchange for a review on my blog, They are now requiring that I add the hashtag #ad to my reviews, and while I fundamentally disagree with this policy, because I don’t review these books to advertise them, I look for books that might be useful to my audience and share them as potential resources. That being said I will honor their policy.

I spent most of this book wondering how I would review it, because at times I really didn’t like what was said very much. That being said, there were many times when I had to stop and realize I was being judgmental and not putting myself in the author’s shoes. I chose to review this book because it dealt with business and this is an area my audience needs to at least consider, i.e. ministry in the marketplace. It’s the story of Dollar General Stores and the men who founded them. It’s the story of a company that goes from a small town family store to become a billion dollar company and it is downright fascinating most of the time. Interestingly as the company grows and changes from family company to publicly traded business is where it lost most of it’s luster for me. I think the reason for this is simple, all of the sudden the author has to do things like fire family members, etc. There was part of me that understood the responsibility to stockholders that required theses kinds of things to happen, and part of me that felt it was cold and heartless. At first I really wanted to lash out at the author, but then I realized the problem may have been with me, judging someone whose shoes I have never had to walk in.

Over all this is an interesting book. I am glad I read it as much for learning things I do not want to do as things I do. Turner challenged me at times and at times even made me angry. Like the time where he got grief for opening his stores on Sunday from a pastor, and turned it around on the pastor that clearly he wasn’t teaching his people well enough to get them to stop shopping on Sunday. I am a pastor, and while I can’t condemn someone for shopping on Sunday, I thought it was an extremely short sighted statement from someone who at one point felt the call to ministry. Of course about the time I was starting to get really incensed, Turner talks about how bad he felt about making such a statement. Ultimately, I think this book was a little too far removed from my life experience for me to relate to, and yet it exposed me to a different world and for that I am grateful. There’s a certain fascinating irony to the fact that people can become very wealthy, by deliberately creating stores designed to serve the less fortunate to bringing them necessities at low prices.

In the final chapter, Turner tells us his hope for the book and it was here that he really helped me to solidify this review. He writes, “My motive in this book has been to examine my father’s business and make sense of it in a way that might invite you to do the same—so that you make help others do the same in turn. It’s part of loving others as ourselves.” If that was his goal, I believe Cal Turner Jr. achieved his goal.

It’s been said we have nothing to fear but fear itself. It’s absolutely true, especially as a creative. If we’re afraid, we keep our work to ourselves, we don’t share it with the world and if we don’t care it, our fear will have accomplished it’s goal: to keep our work from doing the good it ought to do. Fear in this case is diabolical.

Think about it, your talents are a gift from God. That gift is given not just to enrich your bank account, but more importantly to bless someone and give God glory. When we withhold that work out of fear, no one is blessed and God gets no glory. What a shame!

What are we really afraid of? That some people won’t like it. Sorry but that’s a given. Not everyone will like your work, so you might as well not be afraid of it. The people who don’t like your work, as I’ve said here many times, are not your audience. Ignore them and that fear is nullified.

If not that, what are you afraid of? Maybe you’re not good enough? Have you brought your best work to the table? Then trust God to use that effort to His glory. Your work is not perfect and it will not be, you just have to bring your best to the table. Again nothing to fear.

The truth is over and over again, fear, at least of this type, does nothing but keep you from being everything God has for you to be and doing what He has for you to do.

Don’t let fear keep you from all God has for you.