“You must be prepared to work always without applause.” – Ernest Hemmingway
There’s something I must confess: I love being celebrated. Whether at work, at home, or in my creative endeavors, there’s no better feeling than to receive a standing ovation. And yet, right after the applause subsides, the need for more attention meets me in the silence…I need more! It’s like a personal heroin.
Our society has taught us that our talents must be celebrated, or they are no talents at all. In other words, “If the crowd applauds, then your work is validated. If the crowd remains silent, you just aren’t that good.” Sadly, this has held many people back from living the dreams that God has placed in their hearts.
“Everybody has talent, it’s just a matter of moving around until you’ve discovered what it is.” – George Lucas
There are many of you who might say, “But Andrew, I don’t think I’m good at anything. No one even celebrates that I’m alive, much less that I’m talented.” There lies the problem…We have equated celebration with value.
Last weekend, Beth and I went to see the new movie about Hillsong UNITED, the worship band out of Australia. When one of the lead vocalists was being asked about the band’s massive following, he replied, “We’re the biggest band no one’s heard of.”
And you know what? They were perfectly alright with that. Their hearts are set on bringing the attention to Jesus, not onto themselves. Do thousands of people fill arenas to worship God through their music? Yes. Does top 40 radio play their songs alongside the Biebs and Beyonce? Ha! Yah…no. We all know the names of our favorite artists, but most people don’t even know the Hillsong UNITED member’s names! It’s not about them!
What if being celebrated isn’t the goal? Isn’t it possible that we’re missing what it means to be “talented”? Could our gifts be invisible to the human eye, yet very active within the spiritual realm?
”Blessed are they who see beautiful things in humble places where other people see nothing.” – Camille Pissarro
I have a friend (who I won’t name out of respect) who has a poor view of their own self-worth. They’re not very popular and they don’t make friends too easily, so they view themselves as a misfit. No matter how many times I speak truth of their worth, they always have a reason for why they’re no good at anything. Yet, if they could see the gifting that God has placed in their lives, they would be blown away by what they can accomplish for eternity. I see it; they don’t. They’ve believed the lie that they need the crowd’s validation in order to make a difference.
Truth: you are valuable and God has given you a purpose that the world desperately needs.
Building authentic relationships, having a heart of generosity, serving others in love, creating a safe environment for the hurting, speaking life to others, loving the outcasts, creating art that inspires, and so many other expressions convey the talent that God has placed within each human soul.
You don’t need the applause of humanity to make a difference.
Celebration from broken people is temporary. The applause of God is eternal.
I’ll go with the second option.