When Your Goodness is the Enemy
Posted by monicamynk
Today in my professional development training, my principal ended with this quote from Jim Collins:
Good is the enemy of great.
In his book Good to Great, Collins asserts that we don’t have many great schools, newspapers, government agencies, churches… because we have so many good ones. It’s about complacency, or not holding ourselves to even higher standards. We’re content to let good be good enough.
We might make the same argument for books. I know of many self-published authors who put themselves on a deadline to finish their novels. They’ve written good books with minor errors that don’t sell, then had to rewrite and republish later to fix the embarrassing mistakes.
Our conversation today was regarding PGES, a new method for evaluating teachers, which has drawn both praise and criticism from many. Personally, I like it, although It’s never easy to take a look in the mirror and realize we have room to grow. Sometimes, with the constant criticism from many angles, it’s easy for a teacher to start feeling as though no one thinks they’re good enough. I think that’s true for writers, too. But at the same time, sometimes we get so much praise that we start to think ourselves better than we actually are.
Actually, someone else gave us a charge to pursue greatness long before Jim Collins walked the earth.
The Bible clearly teaches that we must use our gifts and talents to God’s glory. No question, to strive to be Christlike is a strive to perfection, and an acknowledgement that we are all far from perfect. Writing Christian fiction is a ministry, is it not? So then, would publishing mediocrity be to the glory of God? We have to humble ourselves, keep going back to the drawing board, revising until we’ve given our best.
Romans 12:3 comes to mind–such a simple verse, and yet so hard to follow.
For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.
We should always accept that there’s room for improvement.
It amazes me when I critique someone’s first draft and they want to argue against common sense, industry-standard editing advice. They believe, mistakenly, that their work doesn’t need to be improved, often presenting it more for the pat on the back than the honest critique. Gone are the days of dotting every “i” and crossing every “t.”
We can carry things too far and drive ourselves into perfectionism, but sometimes I think we all need to take a little more pride in our work. Myself included.
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Tags: author, book, christian fiction, good, goodness, great, greatness, humility, mediocrity, perfectionism, story, write, writer, writing, young adult
Can You Be Great and Humble?
Posted by monicamynk
I think somewhere deep within all of us is a quest for greatness. We want to be recognized, honored, and patted on the back for our accomplishments. Part of wanting to be published surely relates to that. After all, I’ve worked SO hard on this masterpiece. So many hours that could have been sleep, so many rewrites and revisions. Someone should really give me some appreciation, right? It’s so hard to keep that attitude in check.
And yet I read verses like Proverbs 3:34, and feel an immediate twinge of guilt for ever entertaining such thoughts.
Surely he scorns the scornful, but gives grace to the humble.
Now I wouldn’t call myself scornful. And I definitely want His grace. But as I approach the moment where I start sending my work out for scrutiny, I’m sure the temptation for scornfulness will come with the rejection that’s sure to follow.
After all, haven’t all the “greats” suffered rejection?
This led me to ponder what I truly want from publishing. I can’t deny the surge of excitement that would come from seeing my name in print, from walking into Barnes and Noble and finding my name on the shelf.
But then, I consider the what if–suppose rejection doesn’t follow. How can I keep myself humble?
Rabindranath Tagore, winner of the Nobel Prize in literature in 1913, said this:
We come nearest to the great when we are great in humility.
And to be great in humility comes from purposing to be like Christ.
Maybe I just worry about silly things. The answer always comes back to living a Christ-centered life.
So, with that in mind, of course we can be both great and humble, in Him.