Wednesday, September 10, 2014

What If You're Just Not Good Enough?

It’s a question no one likes to face. But perhaps we all have at some point in our lives.

What if you’re just not good enough?

What I mean by that is, what if you simply don’t have the skills, the knowledge, the talent, or the acumen to do what it is that you are really passionate about?

To clarify, I’m not talking about those things that you feel God has “called” you to do. As far as I’m concerned, if God calls you to do something, you do it. Whether you’re terrible at it or not. That’s an obedience issue.

No, I’m talking about something different. I’m talking about that one thing that you’re passionate about. That one thing you want to do more than anything else in the world. (Yes, sometimes “calling” and “desire” intersect, and it's a beautiful thing when they do. But that's not what I'm referring to here.) What if you are simply not good enough to do what you love to do?

I wrestle with this question a lot. As most of you know, I’ve been passionate about making music for over 20 years now. I’ve recorded four albums in my life and a handful of singles. One could say I’m “successful” at music solely by the amount I’ve been able to create. But let’s be honest. I’m not topping any charts. No, let’s be even more honest. I’m not even ON any charts. Sometimes it seems I can't even give my music away. Does that mean I stink at it? I honestly don’t know. Maybe my music doesn’t sell because my friends don’t see me as a musician. Maybe they see it as my hobby and who wants to pour money into someone else’s hobby? Maybe I’m not on the radio airwaves because I don’t have the right “connections”, don’t grease the right palms or have a famous uncle to promote me. Or maybe, just maybe, it’s because I’m not as good at it as I’d like to think I am.

Maybe my passion and my talent aren’t equal.

What do you do then?

And how do you comfort someone who has a desire to do something with their life when they just don’t have it? You’ve known that person. You know the girl in church who thinks she can sing but she honestly can’t carry a tune in a bucket. Or the boss who loves being the boss but is a terrible people manager. The wannabe dancer with clumsy feet and no coordination. The young man who dreams of being a professional athlete but just doesn’t have the physicality. You know him. You know her. How do you encourage those people?

True, success is about more than being on charts, getting a hit single or a record deal. I know that. I'm not simply talking about worldly success, I'm talking about affirmation. I'm talking about the ability to do what you really love and make a life out of it. Not having to tuck it away to an occasional weekend because your "real job" has to pay the bills. I have a lot of musician friends in this same position, by the way. Those who would love to make a living at it but just haven't been able to.

Is it supposed to be enough to say you've "stayed true" to your passion regardless of your ability to make a living at it?

Let me be clear: I’m not writing this looking for people to respond and say, “Tim, you’re a great songwriter.” That’s not what I’m looking for here. I’ve already come to terms with the possibility that I may not be very good at this. And I’m okay with that. To some extent. But what I wrestle with is why the passion doesn’t subside when it becomes evident that the ability to fulfill it isn’t there.

Have you ever wrestled with this? Is there something you have always wanted to do or be but you just don’t have it? How do you deal with it?