Perfectionism vs Expression

Elijah had already worked on the project. He spent a day coming up with the next theme / logo for Google. The task was to show “your favorite day.” Elijah chose to do an amusement park theme (based on his experiences at Disney World, Six Flags, and LegoLand).

Just a few days later (but before he entered the contest), Google had changed the theme on its homepage. Want to guess what the theme was? Yep, it was an amusement park.

When he saw that, he was crushed. From our follow-up conversation, there were two main issues that bothered him:
  • He wanted to win, but “knew” that his hand-drawn theme was not better than this one.
  • He was concerned that others would think that he copied this idea, when he actually came up with his design on his own.

The Truth of the Gospel 

We had a good gospel-centered conversation about these issues. We talked about how his hope was in winning, instead of in the love of Jesus. We talked about his desire for others to think highly of him, instead of resting in his identity in Christ. He’s heard the truths before, but he needed a reminder, just like his dad does as well.

The Uniqueness of Expression 

But we had another great conversation about what it means to create. I explained that creativity (writing, music, drawing, etc) is not about being the first or being perfect or having the “right” way. Art is about how that truth is expressed through the uniqueness of the individual.

First, innovation or creative expression is never something completely new. It is always based on someone else’s work – whether it is God or another person (who was made in the image of God).
“There is nothing new under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 1:9)
Second, God gave me a humbling realization, which I was able to explain to him. Elijah knows that I have a blog (two, actually), and that I write a lot. So I asked him,
"Of the hundreds of posts that I've written, do you think any of them have a completely new truth or solution? Do you think that I’m constantly thinking of things that no one has ever thought of? No way! Every time I write, it's about a truth or idea that someone else has had and written about. But the uniqueness is in how that idea is expressed through my life and my mind." 

I don’t need to stop writing just because I have no innovative ideas. I need to let God filter those concepts through the experiences He has given me.

Third, the more you create, the more you’ll want to create. For every blog post I get to write, I have two additional ideas. Yes, I have an ever increasing list of things I want to think and write about. But this continuous flow of ideas only comes from continuously writing and expressing. Elijah needs to keep creating, just to keep the flow going.

As Jon Acuff writes in Love the Act, Not the Outcome, the process is greater than the results.

The Outcome 

I helped Elijah understand his choices: 1) to submit his creation as his (knowing that he did his best, original work), 2) to not submit it, or 3) to develop a new theme. And then I dropped the subject; I didn’t want to nag him into what I thought he should do.

He wound up submitting what he had already done. He didn’t want to make a new creation, since the assignment was to explain his favorite day. To make a new theme would not be true to what he felt.

And that’s the sum of what I’m glad he learned. That the only truth that matters is who God is (the ultimate Creator) and what He says about each of us (a unique and beloved creation). Anything that we do in life should be an expression of those truths.

Related Links:
**image courtesy of cstover via

No comments :

Post a Comment