F O C U S O N F R U I T
HI EVERYONE! David here. Hope you are well!
I'm feeling very reflective this week, so I’m going to get vulnerable with you for a second, if that's cool:
In the process of writing these songs over the past couple years, I obviously was learning and experiencing a lot of things which took on a voice through these prayerful tunes. I thought it was sort of done there--once the music was written. But I've actually learned a bunch during the whole journey of fundraising and recording and releasing the project that I did not expect from that process.
And I've got to say, some of the things I encountered in myself I’ve struggled a bit to face down and work through. I've had to take some times of intense listening and "detox" in the days following this release to settle into a new, healthier season.
The insights that got dropped on me through this I think will definitely resonate with creatives like my friends and me in the O.W. fam. But I think they'll be relevant to anyone journeying through life and sorting out their purpose and work and calling--which is why I'm writing this, and, hopefully you're not bored yet, cause this is going somewhere. Here's where I'm at:
C H A S E A F T E R F R U I T . N O T R E C O G N I T I O N .
To elaborate: somehow, I think, in our work, we wrap up ourselves in it, even if just a little bit. I don't care if it's waiting tables or running a company or fixing computers or leading a church or writing songs. We naturally put a little bit (and sometimes a lot) of who we are into what we do. That's why if someone critiques or insults your work, generally you'll feel offended (unless you just really, really don't care--then you should do some other kind of work, seriously).
When the work you do is creative, like writing songs and making music, it's way personal. It comes directly from your lived experience, your thoughts and dreams, your memories, your prayers--sometimes it seems like it comes directly from your soul. Maybe that sounds overly sentimental, but talk to someone who writes music or makes art, and they'll tell you.
So, when you release your music into the world, even if it's purposed mainly for the edification of peoples' faith and the glory of God, you can't help but feel a sense of your own identity tied up in it. There's a normal and healthy aspect to this that comes with all creative work. And there's also a not-so-healthy possibility of becoming fixated.
To be honest, I found myself there—fixated—in the days following our first "professional" musical release.
Not by some ego-trip, I don't think. It was more like, with all the time and heart and resources poured into it, and how great we felt about it, I wanted so much to simply have it be seen and heard--to have recognition in some way.
You start getting obsessive with checking social media. You start comparing yourself. You start doing all these social and mental gymnastics that get nowhere. (Do you know what I'm saying? Has anyone ever been there in some way?)
I guess there's nothing wrong in itself in being recognized for your work. But if that becomes what you're fixated on, the life your work gives to you and others will start to drain away.
I found myself back in a place of striving when I wanted to spread a message of Sabbath.
So, I just listened and prayed for a little while.
And what I landed on was realizing that in our work, if we want it to count in the Kingdom, if we want it to give life rather than drain life, we need to seek fruit over recognition.
F O C U S O N F R U I T .
Recognition is something our flesh craves--"notice me!" Fruit is something that God brings. Fruit is all God is after in us.
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you abide in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5, one of my fav’s.)
In our work, whether it’s paid or not, if our goal becomes mere recognition, what room does that leave for abiding?
I sort of thought in my spiritual journey I was in a place of maturity where I was beyond this kind of thinking. But sometimes we overcome the more blatant temptations only to find ourselves tested by subtler thoughts and foes. To boil it down, this process has taught me I have a lot of growing to do still, you feel me?
So, whatever work you devote your life to, whether it feels like something small or big, if you find yourself getting hung up on who is recognizing you for it, re-align your focus. Dwell instead on the good fruit that has come and will come out of it.
How are lives being touched?
How are people being served?
How are love and truth being sown?
How is God being glorified?
That's where we should focus--and, yes, it's way, way, WAY more exciting.
Look: it's always nice and fun to get recognition for something you work hard on and pour your heart and soul into. But the thrill of recognition doesn't come close--nowhere close--to the joy of obedience: just knowing you did the Father's will.
There is strife in chasing the high of recognition, but there is rest in joyful obedience.
I got vulnerable with you about this internal stuff going on in me this past season at the risk of coming across as a selfish-artist-dweeb or something(and if I am, it’s ok—Jesus loves me and he’s working on it with me) in the hopes that you'll identify a little bit with it and take time in your own life to think more about the fruit the Lord wants to bring out of your life's work rather than whatever recognition or lack-thereof it might amount to for you.
Maybe even you'll just think more about what your life's work, your vocation, your calling is. That's a journey worth taking, my friends.
Forget recognition. Focus on fruit. Seriously, what could matter more than the delight of the Lord in your life? That's where it's at. Let's chase after it folks. <3