Success & Worth

RussellMills_Apr282012_0035
“Don’t say that out loud,” he tells me in frustration.

“Why?” I ask.

“Because,” he says in exasperation. “I don’t want them to know what I’m sketching!”

“Why does it matter? Why do you care what those other kids think? It doesn’t matter what they think about your art.”

“Yes it does.”

“No it doesn’t.”

“Yes it does. What others think of you determines how successful you are in life,” he replies.

My mouth drops open. My mind wondering how to teach him balance. How do we teach him that what others think does not determine his success? That our purpose is not to please others.

For we speak as messengers approved by God to be entrusted with the Good News. Our purpose is to please God, not people. He alone examines the motives of our hearts. (1 Thessalonians 2:4 NLT)

We all long to fit in. Even the most introverted want a community of friends (albeit very small) in which to belong.

Yet we can’t define our success by what others think. When we do all we will find is emptiness. Learning this truth is a process though. We can’t magically snap our fingers and not care what others think of our actions, our decisions, or our art.

For artists especially our art, whether it be writing, painting, photography, or music, makes up so much of who we are.

We all need encouragement. Words that spur us on offering hope that we are good at something.

Our struggle is not allowing our art to define us. Our worth cannot be found in what we create.

Allowing the opinions of others to dictate our success, especially as artists and creatives, suffocates our ability to find our worth in our creator.

I understand how my son can form this opinion of success. What people think of businesses does determine success to a degree. At least success defined by most people. I am learning, though, that defining success by what others think will exhaust us. Defining our success by what others think is nothing more than fear.

But it’s a lot easier to tell my son and myself to not care what others think than it is to actually not care. Too often I allow the opinion and approval of others to determine my worth. I find myself apologizing for how God made me.

Success and worth are defined by our creator And honestly I’m tired of feeling like an apology is needed when someone doesn’t approve of my art or even my actions.

When we value others because of their worth in their creator and not their success we give them permission to be who they were created to be.

Life: Unmasked