I’m about to get real, really real from a preacher to a preacher (or anyone else who cares to read along). Jesus said, “Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye (Matthew 7:3-5 ESV).”
Then it dawned on me, preachers are professional speck pickers. A preacher’s job can be summed up in “let me take the speck out of your eye.” We preach to communicate truth that will allow people (the speck eyed) to walk in freedom and see from God’s perspective on love, life, spirituality and just about anything that comes up in the culture. When studying and praying for a sermon that I’m about to deliver, I even pray, “God help people to see this!”
Woe to the preacher who deals with the speck eyed audience while being a log eyed preacher. Talk about a wake up call. If our ministry is to remove the speck from our brother’s eye, then the prerequisite is to deal with log in our own eye.
A speck is small, a log is big. So the preacher’s task is to take most seriously their own issues. When a people who hear a preacher who has worked seriously (by the grace of God) to deal with the log in his or her eye, they are more apt to let you deal with their speck. Paul told the young Timothy, “Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you (1 Timothy 4:16 NKJV).” The gospel preaching is for the preacher first and then for the crowd. The doctrine is for the teacher first and then for the congregation. If it has not been developed in me, it’s not ready to flow through me.
Preacher, get alone with God and let Him burn the sermon into your heart. Don’t close your heart up and become a professional. Be hungry everyday for the Word that confronts the logs in your life. Let the Holy Spirit burn in you. When God deals with the log in the preacher’s eye, it gives us perspective on the smallness of other’s sins. If people have seen the log move out of our lives, then they can have faith for the speck in their eyes.
The greatest preaching qualification that matters is allowing God to take the log out of our eyes. It’s okay to help remove the speck from another, but not while the log remains in your eye. Besides you would hurt a lot of people if you are smacking them with log in your eye (I’m visual). If the log can be removed then we know the God who moves the impossible. Others’ specks don’t look too tough.
Let your life become the sermon. Your transparency about how God removed the log demonstrates humility and releases faith for God to clear their eyes too. Jesus sees me as complete, now I use the Word as a mirror (James 1) to make sure that there is nothing blocking the wholeness I have in Christ. It’s not about working this out in my flesh, it’s about aligning my life with the Word of God and walking in obedience. I’ve been the log eyed preacher, but the longer I follow Jesus I want more of Him and the pulpit doesn’t matter as much. I love to preach but not as much as I love Him. I love to preach, but I’d rather just keep being formed into the image of Jesus.
My Prayer for Me as a Preacher (You may pray it too if it helps).
forgive me for preaching with a log in my eye. Forgive me for taking other’s sins more seriously than my own. I humble myself. I need you. Thank you for loving me. Thank you for calling me to the incredible privilege of preaching Your Word. Thank you for allowing me to speak into others’ lives so that they may see more clearly. Jesus I want people to see You and not have anything in their perspective that blocks their freedom. But first Jesus I bring you all that stops me from seeing You. Set me on fire so that the log can only be consumed by your love, zeal and truth. Set me on fire to grow in Christlikeness. Thank you that I don’t have to strive but as I stay in Your Word and in Your presence, You show me where You are at work. Have your work in me first Holy Spirit so that you can work through me. In Jesus name,
A battle rages in the heart and mind of the creative. Should I create today? What will people think of my work? This poem, painting, song, book or film is a part of me. I don’t want to share it, in case I get criticized. I’m not ready. Let’s expose the lies that hold us back as creatives and get to work!
1. It matters what people think about my art.
“To avoid criticism say nothing, do nothing, be nothing,” said Aristotle. If you can’t get over what people thing about your creative expressions, you will never do anything. It doesn’t matter what people think about your art. It’s your art. Why are people so critical and opinionated about what someone else creates. There are no rules to art and creativity. Some people will love what you do and some people will hate it. Get over it. There will be cynics and haters. If you are never opposed or disliked your creative ideas probably aren’t getting out there far enough. People rejecting your art can often reveal more about them than about your art.
2. It doesn’t matter what people think about my art.
This is not to contradict point one. While you can’t satisfy critics you do need to find a tribe or a community of people that respects your art and finds value in it. After all, art and creativity are for sharing. If you don’t find a warm audience to your book, song, music or painting then just keep putting it out there until you find people that do find inspiration in your work. You can also benefit greatly from finding honest and constructive critique to help you develop as an artist. A tribe that supports you will also help inspire your ideas to go to places that you never would have arrived at alone.
3. My best work is already done.
Some artists and creatives get what I would call creativity fatigue. They pump out a bunch of work and feel like they have already released the very best work that is inside of them. A fear can set in that the best I have already done is now accomplished. Don’t overrate your work because you currently can’t imagine every doing anything better. Sometimes the work that I expect to be the most well received is overlooked and other things I produce are praised much more that I could have expected. Embrace the mountains and valleys of creativity. The discipline of producing creatively, even things that you don’t like as much as your previous work, will weave together a powerful story. Your art is a story and your story is a part of your art.
4. My art is too overdone by other artists.
There are too many books on leadership. There are too many aspiring Instagram nature photographers. City skyline photos are overdone. YouTube is already overly saturated with family vloggers. The list could go on where we feel like the market is too crowded to make space for what we want to say or create. The truth is that no market is over saturated and that we need fresh voices and artists for every form of creativity. If there is a lot of people doing what you do, look at it as a confirmation that people are looking for your type of work.
5. I can’t make a living from my creativity.
Artists are often told that they can’t make a living from creativity so do something else. It is true that sometimes you have to work a job so that you can live and on the side you can do what you love. But we live in a day where there is so many ways to profit from your work. The internet connects us globally to people that want to buy all sorts of art. There are countless services that literally cost you nothing to open an online store to sell your music, paintings, books, etc. etc. Even if you never make a living from creativity, share your art because it makes you come alive. Share your art because it brings hope and inspiration to others.
6. My work isn’t quite ready to share.
I don’t know who said it first, but perfectionism leads to procrastination. G.K. Chesterton said, “If a thing is worth doing, do it badly.” If you have a creative gift it is better to share it before it’s perfect than to wait until it is. Excellence in art is important, but no one arrives at excellence before sharing something that feels partially finished. I love what software developers have demonstrated. They release unfinished software and they update from version 1.0 to 1.1, then 1.2, then 2.0 and on and on. Releasing your work while feeling unfinished for unpolished can help you get closer to the finished version that you long for faster. You can always update and tweak your ideas.
7. I don’t need to write down my ideas.
If you don’t capture your creative ideas in the moment that you get them, you probably have lost the idea forever. You need to have a journal, a notepad or phone that you can instantly capture your ideas. Ideas that are produced change the world. You need to be as disciplined about recording your ideas and developing your ideas. I capture my ideas in an app called Evernote. Ideas come to me while driving, in worship services, at concerts, at art galleries, by the beach, in nature and so I grab ideas wherever I am on my phone. I have huge list of undeveloped ideas that have come at random times of inspiration. Then when I have my scheduled time to create I run over my ideas that have come in a seed form and develop them into poetry, blog posts, sermons, teachings and books.
8. I’m just not inspired enough lately.
Inspired creativity is amazing and a lot of fun. But creativity should not only be developed in moments of inspiration but also through discipline. Someone once said that there is no such thing as talking block, which helps take away the excuse of writers block. Make war against your lack of inspiration by just making something. It’s better to write an uninspired song, take a lame photo or create a bland painting then to make nothing at all. Don’t wait to get inspired, work until you are inspired. Thank God for those inspired moments, but don’t live by them alone. Schedule regular time to create.
What lie about creativity is holding you back? I would love to hear from you in the comments.
Excuse me, do you have a second?
This will only take a minute
You know I don’t have all day anyway
Oh, Would you look at the time?
On your marks, get set, go
You know, my wife tells me that being early is on time
on time is late
and well late, late is just unacceptable
There is no accountability partner like time
So cruel in it’s capacity
you made it or you didn’t
so you start making excuses
Our best intentions
When the hand strikes midnight
you are losing the magic Cinderella
And no matter how much you want five more minutes
Time is money they say
No wonder We often feel so short changed
Seconds to minutes and minutes to hours, hours to days
It’s how Yesterday became today
Today is becoming tomorrow
Right now is the past as soon as I got done saying it
I’m supposed to be healed by you time
If I could just steal you time
What was supposed to be healing me
You keep tick tick ticking, tickity tock
Always in this race against time
Let me ask you a question,
You ever wanted to murder a clock?
The alarm has sounded
But this generation, this girl she’s sleeping
The time of revival its getting late
So many souls
With a ticking bomb
And the crime of
Crimes is to watch
them walk to deaths door in silence
The violence of silence
In these times will only unfold
When the books of judgement are unscrolled
This girl is sick
This girl’s gonna be in the grave
We are running out of time JESUS
Don’t you see us
It’s too late
For this terminal generation
But then the eternal one
Who splits reality, what sweet poetry
Making the sun stand still
And The Son
for every generation entered in
And He has the nerve, no, the courage to say
This girl isn’t dead
She’s only sleeping
Now is the time