Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Creative Control?

There is something special about the feeling of ownership. I vividly remember pulling away from the car lot the day I bought my first car—a 1992 maroon Saturn SL1. I saved diligently for that car, and I felt pride in knowing that it was all mine. I didn’t even care that it lacked air-conditioning, although I was headed to the triple-digit temperatures of Nashville, Tennessee in the dead of summer. It was mine. That was all that mattered. I experienced the same exhilarating feeling when my husband and I purchased our first home. There was no end to the home improvement projects we had in mind to make the place our own.
Ownership provides privilege, pride, freedom, and a sense of responsibility. But ownership also has a dark side. It feeds the illusion of control. The idea that it’s ours may cause us to drift toward an attitude of entitlement. The more invested I am in something, the more costly it will be to lose. The more control I have acquired, the more insecure I become about things not going my way.
As creative artists and ministry leaders, we naturally feel ownership for the work we do. The commitment that compels us to pour our hearts and souls into our work is birthed from a God-given passion and calling. In its purest form, it’s a beautiful display of God’s work through us. But we can also easily cross over to the dark side of ownership when we find ourselves grappling for control and attempting to manipulate circumstances to fulfill our personal goals and dreams.
Stewardship, on the other hand, recognizes that I’ve been entrusted with something valuable and I have a responsibility to give it my best care. I don’t own it, but I’ve been given an amazing privilege.
Let’s consider this for a minute… hold your hands side-by-side, palms up as if you are cradling something valuable. In these hands God has placed your gifts, talents, experiences, and opportunities. As a steward, you will keep your hands open and gently hold these items, being sensitive to how God leads and directs you. You will carry them confidently yet gently.
But what happens when you become complacent, bored, frustrated, or disinterested? When we face these challenges, we can easily get tired of holding up our hands. We lose sight of the purpose, and we don’t have the energy to keep gently holding them. Before we know it, we’ve thrown up our hands and walked away.
What about when you become nervous, insecure, threatened, or scared? In these moments our tendency is to tighten our grip. Our fingers curl around it, and we develop such a death grip that we squeeze the life out of it. We become frantic owners grasping for a sense of control.
We have to constantly monitor an attitude of stewardship in our lives. Time and time again I find myself clutching too tightly the gifts, talents, experiences, and opportunities that God has given me to manage. The best way I’ve learned to combat this tendency in myself is to physically hold my hands up in an open-palms posture and pray specifically about the issues that I am desperate to control. We start squeezing the life out of our God-given influence when we attempt to take over and control. It’s only through an attitude of stewardship that we learn to hold loosely while still assuming our responsibility.
God has gifted you for a specific purpose, a calling that only you are qualified to fulfill. Do you know what that purpose is? Are you grasping it too tightly or are you stewarding it faithfully?

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