As someone who blogs on a somewhat regular basis in different outlets, I have discovered something rather disturbing about myself. Whenever I am trying to think of something to write about, I find that I am more naturally drawn towards the critique. Not necessarily negative, but probably mostly so. As I think about it I have come to find a simple reason for this: the critique is easy. The nature of our world and of humans in general is that it is a very flawed place, and its inhabitants even more so. There is no end of things to critique, and thus an endless supply of things to take to task. For the writer this usually makes for easy pickings, and most of the time it's pretty fun too!

More positive writing, on the other hand, takes a great deal more effort. To be sure, a good critique takes effort as well, but it is far easier to find a subject to critique than it is to find a subject to write about positively. When it comes to design- especially design within the church market- it is extraordinarily difficult to write nice things as a matter of course. Those of us who are in the thick of it know the flaws and failings and ridiculous things that happen within our church's communication strategies, and venting through our writing is not only easy but also incredibly cathartic. I find myself falling into this constant pattern of tending towards the negative and the critique, and while I hopefully make valid points from time to time, I also recognize that I usually fail to offer encouragement except in very oblique ways. No doubt (and here I am in full-on confession mode) much of this stems from my own frustrations which cannot help but seep into the things that I write. But as I come out of an extremely busy and frustrating month, I decided that sometimes we (read: I) need a reminder of why we do what we do, and to celebrate the good that can be and is being done.

Speaking for myself, there are many times when I feel like most of the things I create have absolutely no purpose or meaning. Many times I can feel more like a Photoshop monkey than an artist, especially when deadlines pile up and I find myself having to sacrifice the things I would want to do simply to get something out the door. In those seasons it can difficult to make the ministry more than a job.But even the little things that we do can have a big impact; the problem is that we too often evaluate success in merely worldly terms. Along with that, we can begin to think that our efforts alone are what changes lives, rather than working in the faith that the Holy Spirit is always at work through (and often in spite of!) the things that we do. This realization is absolutely freeing, for we can let go of our illusion of control and self-importance to recognize that we are servants of God, trying our best to do his will in everything that we do.


Because everything we do can be done for the glory of God, there are no longer any important things. We each have a gift that has been given to us by God, and we have the privilege and the responsibility to use it as best as we can. In the parable of the talents we read of how it is only those who make use of what they are given through hard work and some risk who are praised by the master; the ones who play it safe have what little they have taken away from them. Sometimes we have to be faithful in the little things before we can on to greater; the same parable makes this principle clear. Part of the discipline of being a disciple is to become less so that Jesus can become more, and as we are faithful in what God sends our way he will give us the opportunity to be faithful in more.
This is, of course not meant to be some sort of spiritual ladder-climbing analogous to the corporate world; rather, there is an inverse effect at work; as Jesus says, the first will be last and the last will be first.

The point of all this is that through all of the frustration and tight deadlines and creative tensions that inevitably crop up we need to have a fundamentally optimistic outlook. I do not mean some sort of naiveté that tries to find happiness in everything, but rather a deep-seated trust that in everything that we do, no matter how great or how small, we are doing it for the glory of God. There can be no greater calling than to serve God, and for those of us in the ministry-related creative fields that is our particular calling and one place in which it can happen.

At the end of the day the one who trusts God and does all for the glory of God can hold his or her head up high, fulfilled in knowing that whatever has been done, it is not something that is primarily self-serving or even done for some temporal good, but has eternal significance because it is trying to find itself within God's will.

There is no better place to be.

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