Doing Less & Becoming More


The more you do, the more successful you’ll be.

That maxim seems true, but it’s actually a lie that erodes our identity and creativity.

This isn’t about being unproductive. I’m all for getting things done. It’s the motive of striving and constantly doing more that I want to discuss.

We’re regularly encouraged to spend more time on social media, grow our platform, conduct more interviews, increase our output, garner more reviews, and chase the latest trends. Why? Because if you can just master enough tips and do more each day, you’ll eventually experience success in your career, right?

Not so much.

It’s not that these particular things are bad or good – most are neutral and some are needed. But we must free ourselves from the underlying assumption that our calling is all – or mostly – up to our efforts, connections, and mastery of the latest techniques. If we truly believe that it’s all up to us, we’re living like orphans who try to do things in their own strength for God rather than with Him. Soon we find ourselves on a treadmill of our own making, always running but never quite arriving. Success is always just around the corner.

But there is no secret elixir for success. It won’t come from doing more or chasing after every new “five-step” formula. Doing so will leave you exhausted. And there’s no correlation between good art and exhausted artists. In fact, the world doesn’t need more offerings from us when we’re worried and weary.

I believe the way an artist achieves true and lasting success begins with how they create. If we enter into the creative process and actively pursue our talent with God – at His pace and rhythm – we are successful. If our motive is Creative Fellowship with God, that transforms every other aspect of our creativity.

In that sense, it’s the opposite of doing more. Presence comes before productivity. The illusion of control is relinquished for the intimacy of relationship. It’s stepping into a larger story that then enlarges the project you are creating with God.

When artists choose being above doing, they still get things done. But they do so from a foundation of freedom. They’re no longer looking for validation from others. They know it isn’t all up to them. They aren’t orphans proving their worth through external measurements but sons and daughters on the playground of ideas, creating from a place of deep identity, intimacy, and imagination with God.

Make this shift and the old external measurements of success lose their power to validate or invalidate you. You are a son or daughter of the Father who creates with God rather than simply doing things for God. Your identity is based first in who you are rather than what you do…and that can never be lost or stolen.

It’s true that the world doesn’t need more art from exhausted, striving artists But it desperately needs more art glistening with the glow of those who have spent time creating with the Creator.

Be that artist. Create on that canvas. It begins by doing less and becoming more.

© Allen Arnold, 2019

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