It’s Not A Competition

Blog_Competition‘Tis the season for writers’ conferences. Across the nation, those with a love for the written word will gather to hone their craft. Some will come with a desire only to develop their skill, others with aspirations of publication.

A couple years ago I was sitting in a classroom at the local conference when a woman walked in, eyes narrowed, hands on hips. “I’m just sizing up the competition, that’s all,” she explained in all seriousness.

I couldn’t decide whether her statement was more humorous or grieving. Writers were never meant to be competitors, especially in the Christian realm. We’re instead co-laborers, each contributing our unique voice for the building up of others. If anything, we’re to encourage one another in the use of our gift rather than viewing one another as a threat to our selfish advancement.

We’ve each been gifted with a unique history that enables us to speak a word in season to those within our sphere of influence. If one of our voices is silenced, we all suffer. Comparison and competition are destructive weapons against the good of the art.

Yes, I’m challenged by others who use their gifts with excellence. But I won’t let it silence me. Instead, it inspires me to use words more effectively and with greater wisdom and purpose.

Every voice speaking in defense of truth and justice, mercy and love is a needed voice. Writers are not enemies, but fellow soldiers. Competition is the enemy.


Photo Credit: Free stock photo: Runners, Competition, Race, Running – Free Image …

Beyond the Public Eye

Blog_EmptyStageThere was a time when it was okay to be unknown. People sang in the shower without aspiring to idol status. Gifted writers were content when their words served to encourage their friends and loved ones. Iron chefs cooked for the love of food and family.

Now everything’s a competition. A good voice isn’t enough unless it’s discovered. The written word seems worthless if not hailed by the masses. There’s even cooking shows that turn the kitchen into a stage and the well-cooked meal into a shot at stardom.

What drives us to push our talents and abilities into the public eye? Why are we so discontent with obscurity?

Maybe we’re longing for significance—believing it can only be found in worldwide recognition. If the world knows we’re gifted, we’re assured of our existence. We feel validated only when acknowledged by others. Add impatience to the mix. We want immediate gratification from our efforts—likes and shares, comments and accolades.

It’s interesting to note that some of the most enduring works of art were created in obscurity. Many now-famous writers, artists, and composers weren’t recognized for their work until they passed on from this life. Would we of this fame-famished generation be content to know our greatest works will benefit those powerless to build our present-day ego?

I’d rather have my work outlive me for the benefit of a generation I’ll never see than for it merely to endure a short-lived hype. Serving in obscurity ensures sincerity. If I’m using my talent only for immediate recognition, hypocrisy is likely to steal the stage—my works governed by the feeble and fleeting opinions of man. It’s better to flourish in obscurity than to waste away in the toxic waters of fame.