Monday, May 22, 2017

Overcoming Fear of Creative Failure, Part 2: Obedience


A surprising number of well-known professionals suffer from imposter syndrome: a condition that leads them to believe that their successes are flukes, that they're actually not very good at what they do, and that the next project they take on will be the one to reveal their fraud to the world.

I know how they feel. I often wonder if I'm cut out to be a writer, and why I don't just settle down and do something sensible and productive with my life. Ironically, I wondered this much less before I started getting published. I know that it makes no sense. I'm not pretending that it does. I'm just trying to be honest.

Fortunately, these feelings are just feelings, and understanding that my feelings don't rule me is a productive step toward overcoming them. 

Also, as a Christian, I have further remedies to combat the madness.

Of primary importance is that I acknowledge that my work (and all work, really) is an act of obedience based on my trust in the Father's sovereign care.

Recently, I was encouraged to note that in Jesus' parable of the stewards, the master gave "each according to his ability." He gave the stewards individual levels of responsibility that he knew would not crush them. 

That means he doesn't hold a one-talent steward to five-talent work. 

What a comfort.

In the parable, however, the one-talent steward doesn't trust this. He is so afraid of failure (even low-level failure) that he does nothing. His fear cripples him. He buries his talent in the ground and robs the surrounding community of the benefits that the master's investment would bring.

But there's something the steward didn't consider: "While the steward was afraid of failing, his master wasn't afraid of giving him the chance to try. Even if the steward's fears told him otherwise, he should have placed his confidence in the truth that his master knew best and had actually taken his abilities into consideration" (Moser, 15-16).

This was a very freeing realization for me. I don't know if I'm a five-talent steward, a three-talent steward, or a one-talent steward; but I do know that God won't expect a level of work from me that he hasn't equipped me to produce. Therefore, if I'm willing to work in obedience, doing the best I can with the skills and abilities that I actually have, then I'll know I'm fulfilling my role as a steward of his grace.

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Notes:

Moser, Phil. 2014. Taking Back Time: Biblical Strategies for Overcoming Procrastination. Biblical Strategies, 16.

Photo Attribution:

By User Gflores on en.wikipedia [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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Overcoming Fear of Creative Failure, Part 1: Managing Expectations

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