Nobody calls me by my first name.
It’s not because I have a long name that only my mom used when I am in trouble. It is not like my name is something super unique like Shaquille. It’s not like a nickname that is cool and descriptive of my physical stature, you know something like “stretch” or “Brutus”…which I have never understood.
People usually call me Brewster a few people call me Stephen. It’s my name. It is how people identify who I am. Who I am is not a leader, designer, creative arts pastor. It’s just Stephen.
Here is a silly question. Who are you? Who you are as in your name not what you do for a job or your hobby. Pastor? Maybe you are you a writer? A designer? A filmmaker or a production genius. Regardless of what you do, it will never be who you are. Your creativity is a gift to help you accomplish something more significant than you could ever realize.
As leaders, pastors, and artists we get the opportunity every week to help people on a journey. It is a journey towards faith, relevance, and ultimately towards God. A trip that helps people move from where they are today “A” to where God wants them to be “B.” In assisting people along that journey, we get to make and do cool stuff. Designs, songs, books, stages, mixes…but then one day something happens. Maybe it has even occurred to you. Someone does not like what you created…and they tell you. At that moment we start to get scared. We get confused, and it even begins to hurt. Usually, they told us out of love. Maybe it is constructive, and perhaps it is not. But at that moment everything changes.
We begin to question ourselves. We start to feel insecure. We hear voices of doubt and worry small voices that whisper in our head but scream in our heart. In that moment a very dangerous transaction has take place. We have replaced the gift we have been given, the gift of creating, with our identity. In that movement we have fallen into a dangerous trap. Traps that lie to us and make us believe that we are what we create. No longer am I Stephen or are you (your name) and none of us are Shaquille. We have become what we do. We have moved from helping people journey from A to B, from moving people toward The Creator to assuming the role of a creator. It is dangerous. We stop leveraging creativity start finding our identity in our art.
Instantly we start to do a few things:
- We start rushing.
- We stop following our process.
- We feel the pressure to create.
- The idea of moving people from A to B is no longer our motivation, creating something that gets praised becomes our goal. We lose focus on the impact we can have and replace it with the fear we are not enough.
- We start trying to move from Point A to Point B as fast as possible. Its natural but it is not always Gods plan. You see transitioning from A to B, getting to where we want to go, where we need to go isn’t nearly as important as becoming who God wants us to be. Usually, that identity, the person God designed us to be is actually realized through the process. It’s in the moments of failure where the wealthiest lessons are learned not in the glow of success. No matter how cool our art is, how amazing our services are, how great our lights and haze or how perfect our PowerPoint may seem God cares more about who we are becoming than He cares about what we are creating.
It is a fantastic privileged to be used by God to walk with people from A to B. But here’s the truth about the process:
The process is messy
The process will never be perfect
There will never be enough resource, budget, or people
We will never have enough time
There will always be something that could be better.
And guess what…that’s not just OK; it’s how God teaches us. It’s how we learn that creativity is more about Him than it is about us. It’s a reminder that what we do is always about the Creator and never about our creation. When we understand this, when we understand that our identity is found in the Creator and not the creation we can accept and learn from the criticism. We stop feeling like our identity is attacked when our art is challenged. So I want you to do something with me. Take a deep breath and say to yourself: It’s Ok.
It’s ok to admit we are tired.
It’s ok to realize we are worn out.
It’s ok to accept our identity has gotten confused and too much of our value is found in what we do not who He created us to be.
But it’s not ok to give up. Not today. Not ever.
Because to move from A to B, to help other people move from A to B we have to trust God’s path us. We have to believe He is there even when we don’t see it. We have to trust that WHOM he made is to be is more valuable than what He created us to do. Because He is where we turn in those moments when we feel our identity is in questions. He tells us who we are and what He created us to do. He is where we turn when we are hurt and confused and when we need to be inspired and encouraged. It is through Him that our creativity is ultimately leveraged to move not just our congregations but also our own identities from A to B. When we go to God in search for our identity we can trust that we will make it from A to B.
Because A to B is about the process:
It starts today
It starts in Him
And it ends with you!
Successful leaders know who they are and they are comfortable with themselves. They know that God cares more about who they are becoming than what they are creating.