The Secret to Rapid Improvement

How would you like to accelerate your progress in an area of weakness? My 23-year-old son, Chris and I discussed this a few days ago. He reminded me of how he stretched himself by being in several lead roles in musicals. “I hated that but it was good for me,” he told me. He is a naturally shy creative who can draw, paint, write articles, write and arrange music, write lyrics and produce music. He rapidly advanced as an actor because he did what he didn’t want to do.

Chris confirms what I just listened to on this podcast hosted by Ray Edwards. He interviewed bestselling author and creativity expert Jeff Goins who is releasing a new book about creativity. Jeff researched leading successful artists such as Michaelangelo who was one of the wealthiest artists of his time during a period when artists were considered paid laborers. Goins revealed a key to rapidly growing in your craft – going public with your process, especially when you’re uncomfortable with this.

Goins discovered that Chris Rock, one of my favorite comedians, would test his jokes on audiences before adding the jokes to his show. Chris would show up at a club with a pad of paper and just start telling jokes to see which ones worked. The jokes that didn’t get any laughs didn’t make the cut. By going public with his creative process, Chris was building his fan base and testing his ideas.

Goins shared his own story of playing in a band and how he rapidly improved as a musician by doing several shows a week. My other son, Alex, has been literally leading worship for 3 hours a day, 5 days a week while he has been in India. I’ve been watching him via Facebook live broadcasts. I asked him why is he always on the keyboard. He responded, “Because I’m the band leader.” That’s 15 to 20 hours of leading and working with other singers and musicians.

These worship sessions have been broadcast live over a Facebook page with opportunities for people to instantly comment. This means that every song that’s off key or pitchy can’t be edited. Awkward transitions are live for everyone around the world to see but the heart and spontaneous singing have been amazingly fresh.

Alex told me that he has noticed an amazing improvement in his singing and playing piano because he has been doing this for many hours. If you want to rapidly advance in an area, then do it for hours at a time and go public with your process. I’m trying to do this right now as I go public with my attempt to do more writing.

I spend hours writing headlines, teasers, and curating hundreds of articles a week. Now I need to carve time out to do my own original writing. Look for more writing in days to come as I go public with my own creative process.

What would you like to improve in?

The Surprising Way God Sees Success

Yesterday I was driving and I asked my 18-year-old son Alex what does he think Jesus looks like. While he was thinking of an answer, I told him what I thought Jesus looked like. “I think Jesus is an unassuming, ordinary Arab or Jewish man. I don’t see Jesus as a Hollywood glam hunk but someone that we would be blown away by the ‘ordinariness’ of his appearance. I think of Jesus as someone who could have been easily overlooked or dismissed until he got on the religious leaders radar when he started teaching in the temple. I think of Jesus as a short Jewish man with thick curly black hair.

Jesus is the pinnacle of success yet consider that he never owned a home, never married or owned a business. His very life contradicts our worldly idea of success. Of course He was the son of God and could have called down angels anytime yet He lived on earth in His fully humanity.

I told my son that I’m concerned how obsessed our Christian culture is with worldly success. Prosperity preaching entwined with American Christianity can make you feel ashamed for having a job and trying to make ends meet. I’ve even heard ministers preach that your house or car is an indication of your faith. I’ve always been appalled when I hear this because what do you say to the Chinese Christians who lose everything for the cause of Christ or Christians being persecuted for their faith whose homes are taken? Does that mean they don’t have faith because they lost everything for the sake of the Gospel?

Another person who lost everything – his identity, his family and his wealth was Joseph in the Bible. Despite his brothers selling him into slavery, God was still with Joseph.

“When Joseph was taken to Egypt by the Ishmaelite traders, he was purchased by Potiphar, an Egyptian officer. Potiphar was captain of the guard for Pharaoh, the king of Egypt. The Lord was with Joseph, so he succeeded in everything he did as he served in the home of his Egyptian master. Potiphar noticed this and realized that the Lord was with Joseph, giving him success in everything he did.” Genesis 39: 1-3

Joseph was a piece of property in the eyes of Egypt yet this did not stop God from being with Him and blessing Him. A slave who owned nothing and not even his own life, was called a success by God.

Joseph’s fortunes end when Potiphar’s wife accuses Joseph of rape. Joseph is sent to prison and God follows him there.

Potiphar was furious when he heard his wife’s story about how Joseph had treated her. So he took Joseph and threw him into the prison where the king’s prisoners were held, and there he remained. But the Lord was with Joseph in the prison and showed him his faithful love. And the Lord made Joseph a favorite with the prison warden. Before long, the warden put Joseph in charge of all the other prisoners and over everything that happened in the prison. The warden had no more worries, because Joseph took care of everything. The Lord was with him and caused everything he did to succeed.” Genesis 39:19-23

Joseph is a slave and a prisoner and yet God calls him a success. Joseph didn’t own a mansion or have millions of dollars or a following. Joseph had God.

What God calls success is a slave who can influence his master with his relationship with God. An influencer who has a relationship with God which impacts their boss’s business or makes life better for those around them, is a success according to God. You don’t have to own a mansion and be a high-powered CEO or famous celebrity.

You can be a slave and be a success.

You can be a WalMart cashier and be considered a success by God.

You can be a stay at home mom and considered a success by God.

Success is having God with you. When God is with you, you have everything.

Don’t let American culture dictate your definition of success. Set the Bible as your barometer of a successful life.

(Disclaimer: I was influenced by Kris Valloton’s message called “Cultivating Prophetic Families” where he mentions Joseph’s life.)

Being a Mom Doesn’t Mean You Stop Being Creative (Book Giveaway)

444109Creative moms often feel as though they must lay their passions down once the kids arrive, if for no other reason than there is no time. But God has something special in mind for creative women during this intense season of mothering. In  Life Creative: Inspiration for Today’s Renaissance Mom (Kregel Publications/September 27, 2016/ISBN 978-0-8254-4410-4/$14.99) authors Wendy Speake and Kelli Stuart show that “a mother’s natural bent toward imagination doesn’t just wither and die with thebirth of a child. This core component remains part of her intricate design.”
In our social media age of handcrafted children’s parties, artistic Instagram photos, tutorials for renovating old furniture into new treasures and blogs filled with poetry, prose and other expression, clearly a brand-new generation of inspired women is rising up. It is a renaissance born not in Italian cathedrals or Harlem jazz clubs, but in kitchens, nurseries and living rooms around the world. However, when Christian women become mothers, they often feel expected to give up their creative pursuits to parent properly.
Wendy Speake and Kelli Stuart know that struggle. While they acknowledge some seasons of mothering require setting artistic pursuits aside, they also argue these seasons don’t have to last until empty nest time. Instead, mothers with creative gifts are called to use them actively to bless their families, their communities and everyone they encounter. “Life Creative is not a book about raising children,” Speake shares. “This is a book for moms, written by moms and including the stories of other moms . . . on a journey to embrace our God-given design in the midst of motherhood!”
In this book, the creative mom will discover:
  • Why the world needs her art
  • How this Life Creative begins at home
  • When art can turn a profit
  • Her part in this modern day Renaissance
Inspiring and encouraging, Life Creative celebrates the ways mothers can live their art in the midst of mothering. Speake and Stuart share the stories of women such as author and speaker Angie Smith, recording artist Ellie Holcomb and jewelry designer Lisa Leonard, who are balancing their unique talents and giftings with the daily demands of motherhood. By following God’s leading to embrace His gifts, renaissance moms can model the joy of obedience for their families.
Life Creative is part visit with a good friend over coffee, part muse of inspiration for the tired heart and a masterclass for start-up home businesses rolled into one. — by Audra Jennings
 
Learn more about more about Life Creative at www.lifecreative.me, and join the community on Instagram (@lifecreative).
 
Advance Praise
“Kelli and Wendy understand that, yes, being a mom is about raising your children. But it’s also about fully being the woman God created you to be and expressing His love like only you can. Their words will support, encourage and cheer you on in the art and adventure of mothering.”
~ Holley Gerth, Wall Street Journal best-selling author of You’re Already Amazing
“Never has there been a time like this for creative and artistic women to embrace the high calling of mother-hood and the unique giftings God has given to each of us. There is indeed a movement – a Renaissance – of the creative woman, the creative mom. I’m grateful that Wendy and Kelli have chosen to encourage this generation of women, right now, to embrace their God-given creativity and steward it to the glory of God. This book is right on time.”
~ Ruth Simons, artist and writer, GraceLaced.com
 
About the authors
 
Wendy Speake is a trained actress and heartfelt teacher. She ministers to women’s hearts through storytelling and life applications, utilizing drama, comedy, poetry and the study of God’s Word. During her career in Hollywood, on shows such as JAG, Melrose Place, Star Trek Voyager and Roswell, Speake found herself longing to tell stories that edify and encourage women. She is the author of Triggers: Exchanging Parents’ Angry Reactions for Gentle Biblical Responses (BRU Press, 2015). Speake is a wife and homeschooling mother of three boys.
If you would like a free copy of this book, post below how you stay creative as a mom. Winner will be picked from posts. 😀