What Happens When You Fail Art Class

My elementary art teacher and I didn’t enjoy each other’s company.

I distinctly remember one time when I accidentally dropped my eraser on the floor and she stopped showing us how to make snowmen out of cotton balls to yell at me for playing around in class.

In my defense, the snowman project was incredibly boring.

The way she had us make things were always by the book. You have the instructions, the guidelines, and you do EXACTLY what the rules tell you to do. For myself, I personally enjoyed branching out to make whatever project we were doing a little more personalized.

On one particular project, we were told to create a paper mâché wind chime. The instructions were simple: create a ball of paper mâché that would hang from a string which would in return knock into each other to make a sound…therefore, a wind chime. It was also was early spring, so we were told to use vibrant Easter colors.


This project was just fine, outside of one overlooked issue: when struck together, paper balls do not make the sound of a wind chime. Also, I wasn’t a big fan of bright colors. I wanted to paint mine dark.

“Excuse me teacher, but I don’t get this.”

“What don’t you get?”

“When you hit these paper balls together, they don’t make any sound. We’re making wind chimes here. They’re suppose to make sound. Also, all these colors are super bright and I’d like to paint mine black.”

“Just make the paper balls and paint them pink or yellow.”

“But…they don’t make any…”

“JUST PAINT THE BALLS YELLOW.”

At this point, I was a little irritated. “Why are we even doing this project? They don’t even do what a wind chime is suppose to do. They’re just for decoration. They don’t serve any purpose.”

So, just like any strong-willed second grader would do, I took took the situation into my own hands.

After making the paper mâché balls, I glued little pieces of metal that was left from a previous project all over the balls so when they hit each other they would make a sound. “See! This is effective!” I realized that I had gone above and beyond what my art teacher asked me to do.

I also painted the balls black because I was a little stubborn child who didn’t want yellow paper mâché balls. I had essentially made three giant gothic-looking balls that looked like they were a medieval battle weapon.

"Art project completed." I couldn’t have been happier with my creation. 

I waited in anticipation as my art teacher went around to each desk, giving praises to everyone’s brightly colored, dull sounding wind chimes. She then proceeded to my desk.

“…what is this.”


“It’s my wind chime. I decided to make a few adjustments to the…”

“Give it to me. You didn’t follow instructions. You get an F and this is going in the trash.”

I was completely devastated. I understood that I didn’t follow the instructions the way I should have, but this was better than what she said to do.

“...you’re going to fail me AND throw away my creation?" I spent the next 30 minutes in tears and in anger as I watched the rest of the class hit their non-chimey wind chimes together outside on the playground. 

I took away two major truths to this particular Wednesday in 2nd grade: First, I didn’t follow instructions or the rules, which is why she failed me. I later apologized for my actions and regretted the fact that I didn’t do what was asked (in all honesty, half of my apology was just so she would let me get my wind-chime-battle-axe invention out of the trash can).


Secondly, I took a risk. I went off the path that she told us we had to go down. I decided to not do what everyone else was doing, and made the artwork mine.

To this day, I’m glad that I took a risk. 

Rick involves danger. Exposure. It involves change…and sometimes, change that you don’t necessarily want. Risk exposes you. Risk puts you to the test. And risk can quite easily leave you emotionally bloody and damaged.

We all have things in our lives that we are afraid of even contemplating the thought of going near. Almost impossible goals. Relationships being torn. Change. Conflict. Opposition. Judgement.

This battle of change is initiated when we bring risk into our lives. Some artists decided to take the easy road - what I like to call the “yellow paper mâché ball” road, and do what everyone says they must do. Then there are those risk takers; the ones that take the “black metal ball” road. The ones who choose what their artistry will look like. The ones who choose to listen to the Creators voice to be the creation they were intended to be.

I firmly believe risk is one of the biggest ingredients we need to become the best and most unique creators on earth. Here’s the thing about risk: risk will remove all artistic shelter from our lives. Any barrier we have set up before this time will be completely gone.

As an artist, we must learn that the biggest roadblocks towards success is removing the artistic status-quo, and following a life of artistic risk.

And that's when ideas become great works of art.

Artist: I encourage you to abandon the monotonous template of artistry, and draw outside of the lines. You'll be surprised what may be created when you decide not to follow what everyone else is doing. Finding your voice in your work can sometimes be confusing and frustrating; not only to those around you, but also to you. Choose risk. Challenge yourself. And in the long run, you'll be able to look back at a moment in life when you realized what type of artist you are called to be.

Also, to my second grade art teacher: thanks for failing me. You taught me what type of artist I am.

Cowards and Risk Takers

Today's post is an excerpt from the book Makers & Monsters, releasing this October.

Life can really scream at you sometimes.

It can easily decide to cut your teeth on thin ice; and no matter how strong your emotional frame may be, it can stagger above you ten feet tall, and give you no reassurance of understanding.

Life is a process; and it’s a process that has both good and bad.

I believe life is a series of battles of an inner war that you constantly fight with yourself. So much so, that life will bend and break you in the moments when you least expect it.

You will wake up one day, and tell yourself “this is the best I have been” and two days later, all four corners of your heart can come crashing in. Any coward can seem courageous when he’s surrounded by a life that fills him up. But when you are alone and your blood runs thin, that’s when you decide if you’re going to let your own doubt, fear, and hurt control the foundation of who you are.

Trust me when I say, hurt can come when you least expect it, from nowhere with absolutely no reasoning.

And there is a chance you will have to live the rest of your life without understanding or knowing the "why" behind the hurt you currently feel.

But that hurt you feel has a deep truth attached to it.

It has refinement. And refinement is a beautiful thing. 

I sit here today, writing these words to tell you that when hurt comes into your life, you have one of two choices. The first, being that you can sit in that hurt, and let the anger and confusion of your hurt slowly erase away who you are as a person. The second being, when hurt is created into the deepest parts of who you are, you can take that hurt, and craft it into something beautiful.

Choose the latter. Take your hurt, and craft it into progress.

If I'm saying anything today, it's this: Let life breathe into you a sentence, and write back a novel. Put on a sweater with a loose thread that your hope and dreams cannot resist pulling, and then pull with the fear that all may unravel around you. Give yourself a boat, mount it with the fastest sail, and take on the darkest of storms.

Hurt can make us do crazy things. And what those crazy things may be, that's up to you.

Don't let your hurt turn you into a coward. Instead, take a risk and follow your hurt.

Because in that risk, you will find comfort.

And in that comfort, you will see a change in your life. 

Trust me. It's better that way.

The Birth and Death of Your Legacy

A conversation with a friend went like this:

"Josh, I just wish my team would produce better. Work better together."

I replied, "Are you finding the areas where they shine? Are you refining the raw talent you see in them?"

He then said, "Not really...because then they'd be better than me" and then proceeded to chuckle.

When I asked him if he was serious, he went a white in the face. 

I see it far too often; the leaders who are actually afraid of completing the transformation in others from First Mate to Captain because of their own ego. They fear that what they are and who they leave behind won't shine if those around them are better then themselves. I don't know about you, but in my book, a good leader develops better leaders than the leader leading them. 

Holding back your teams ability in fear of them becoming better than you is like giving birth to a child who's hands are tied behind their back. Too often, I come across leaders who see a vast amount of raw talent within their teammates, and they never fully develop that person in fear that they might actually become better than the person leading the team.

Holding back your teams ability in fear of them becoming better than you is like giving birth to a child who's hands are tied behind their back. 

This ego that leaders feel about controlling the growth in their teammates stems to their fear of not leaving a legacy; both in the present and in the future. And too often, leaders birth their ego, but they never let it die. To completely develop those around you, the monster that is your ego must die.

The problem here is that most legacies are selfish. They are controlled by one persons achievements. A personal legacy is like a tree that doesn't bear any fruit; even though it might be a mighty oak tree, it will die with no seeds to produce a grand forest. Your legacy should be one that grows those around you for generations to come, not just your name for 2 years after you are dead.

A personal legacy is like a tree that doesn't bear any fruit; even though it might be a mighty oak tree, it will die with no seeds to produce a grand forest.

Today, I want to challenge you to break the mirror in front of you, and see those in front of it. When you are long gone from this earth, those who you grow will invest the knowledge you have invested in them to their teammates. That is a legacy that will spread like wildfire. 

Your ceiling is the next generation’s floor.

Build well.

 

To Flee, To Flock

Life can really scream at you sometimes.

It doesn’t always scream at you in the worst of ways; but sometimes, it’s just enough to make your life seem a little more than what you tend to typically bare.

Life can easily decide to cut your teeth on thin ice; and no matter how strong your emotional frame may be, it can stagger above you ten feet tall, and give you no reassurance that a happier life is right around the corner.

I believe life screams at us at times when we need it.

I believe life is a process; and it’s a process that has both good and bad.

I believe life is a series of battles of an inner war that you constantly fight with your earthly flesh.

And that’s perfectly okay. 

I believe in two things when facing life battles: you flee, and you flock. You flee things that destroy you, and you flock to those things that grow you.

Today, I want to express to you my belief in fleeing & flocking.

Flee those things that need to be left behind.

Sometimes, it’s careers. Projects. Agendas, Things that give you false comfort. Negative thoughts that drive you down a path of false hope.

Sometimes, it’s Memories.

Other times, it’s relationships.

We all have something that we need to flee from. Even as you are reading this, I know for a fact you already have one thing in your mind that you know you would be better off without…but for some reason, you hold onto it with a firm grip, as if you can never let it go. There are times when you have to let things go, even when you don’t want to. Such is life. Don’t try make up a false sense of hope in keeping things that give you momentary value and satisfaction Instead, leave the things you know you need to reject behind you. And don’t ever look back.

Sometimes, It’s memories that bring out the worst in you.

It’s a relationship that destroys every fabric of who you are.

It’s your innate dark thoughts that tell you “you will never be good enough.”

My friends; flee these things. Run away from them with reckless abandon.

And don’t ever look back.

Flock to those things that you need the most.

Leaving things behind is only half of the battle. And to be quite honest, sometimes leaving things behind is easier than picking up those things we need to flock towards.

Sometimes, it’s a life path we’re afraid of following.

A passionate goal that seems unreachable.

What your life looks like without certain people.

What it means to be a vessel of Christ instead of a vessel of You.

Flocking towards things we are pursuing can be harder than leaving things behind; but trust me when I say, the doubter inside of you will quickly dissolve once you see purpose in the things you flocking towards. I don’t believe in the status-quo life; I believe in a life that is filled with passion, purpose, order, and discipline, and creativity. And to make your life revolve around those 5 things, you have to pursue your passions, no matter what they are. Pursuit can be a scary thing; and if we were honest, the reason why we don’t flock towards what we believe in is because of insecurity and discipline. Those two things will quickly kill anyones dream. However, if you constantly flock towards your passion, those two elements of who you are will die along with the things you left behind.

Flee the fact you can’t override reality. And flock towards proving the nay-sayers wrong.

Flee false hope. Flock towards grace and love.

Flee status-quo. Flock towards passionate ambition.

Flee who you are. Flock towards who you were meant to be.

Flee yourself. Flock towards grace.

Trust me, it’s better that way.

Boasting in My Weakness

Every now and then, I get this certain thought. This thought is rare, but it’s a thought nonetheless. It’s this thought that no matter what I do, what I say, and what I present, I will never live up to what I think Ishould be. What is even worse, is that sometimes, I think that my best abilities are mediocre to those watching.

And I have a feeling you are the same way.

 

Let’s be honest…life brings pressure. No matter where you are in life you have pressure. Your pressure isn’t the same as my pressure. The things that bother me might not bother you – but we all have something in our lives that takes our stress level through the roof. Let me give you a personal example so you can see where I’m going with this. There are days where I feel like I fail at every single thing that I do. I start to doubt myself, my talents, abilities, and skills, and I want to throw in the towel. Truth be told, I didn’t fail at anything I did that day – I just set my personal standard way to high.

I’ve come to realize that’s called perfection. I’m also starting to find out that it is selfishness and I bringmy pressure upon myself, because I. am. selfish.

…there’s my confession for the week.

What is somewhat surprising is this facade of perfection I put on my life even when Jesus tells us that there is no such thing as perfection outside of Him. Really, this life isn’t mine to live anyways. And because of that truth alone, I can boast in my weakness.

Our society tries to tell us that we have to live up to a certain “code” of life. In all reality, that code of life is completely wrong, and sometimes unbiblical.

No points today. No 3 bullet body with a conclusion. I just wanted to give my readers the encouragement that even in our faults, failures, goals, and triumphs, we serve a God that is above them all. You don’t have to live up to what society says. Just live for Jesus, boast your flaws in Him, and do the best you can.

Have a great day, my friends.

The Day I Completely Blew It

I’ve been treading around this earth now for 26 years. And while you might be sitting there saying “he doesn’t even know what life is yet,” I finally feel like I’ve locked down exactly who I am as a person. Most likely, I’m completely wrong about who I think I am, or what I was intended to do in this life. But let’s go ahead and continue to let me lie to myself about that.

I’ve talked through some pretty basic ideas for life goals for myself to some people’s opinions whom I trust- and most of them (I’m lying, all of them) have laughed and said I was crazy.

Crazy.

My man Webster defines that as someone “who is wildly aggressive.”

Wildly aggressive.

He also said it’s someone who “manifests enthusiasm in a particular place in their life.”

Manifests enthusiasm.

Here’s the thing about crazy people. They’re weird. They don’t belong. And in some cases, they’re looked down upon by society because of what they believe in and/or what they try to accomplish.

And if I you were really honest with yourself, I think you would probably want to be crazy too.

The normal American gets married, has a bunch of kids, settles down in a house with a 40-year mortgage, works a job that pays the bills, comes home, sits on their couch, eats their dinner and lives their lives in this mindset of “I have arrived, this is life, and I’m comfortable.”

Dreams get drowned in private mediocrity.

Ideas and creativity becomes irrelevant to the most deepest parts of their individuality.

They live day to day. Paycheck by paycheck, Netflix series to Netflix series.

If you were to search deep in the most innate parts of your soul, you and I both know that this is not what was intended for you. It’s time to throw away the old, and ring in a chapter of your life that consists of dreams, visions, adventures, and accomplishments that can change this world.

Go ahead and call yourself crazy. Say it out loud. Do you believe it yet? Because you should. Your life was never intended to live in a place of conforming to what “the normals” are doing; your were born to change the course of this world. You were born to be crazy.  So let’s go ahead and get started on this new chapter of your life you’ve been missing out on.

First, try surrounding yourself with other crazies.

People who follow their dreams. People who question social apathy. People who disrupt the system. People who live for moments, not agendas. People who decide to craft themselves into a position of originality. And if “original” means “crazy,” then surround yourself with originals who are living out crazy lives.

Also, realize that normal is the new irrelevant.

At this point in your life, do you seriously want to surround yourself with people who fall into the human standpoint of social apathy? Here’s what I’m trying to say: the people who live because they have to. The people who fall into the rut of wanting that the mundane 9-5, paycheck, weekly sitcoms, and the weekend sleeping-in schedule.

Where are they going? What are they doing? Is this lifestyle what I want impressed into my life?

The normal that we see driving down the freeway during rush hour is not the crazy that is going to define your life. Want to pursue your dream? Quit your job, and start your business. Stop eating the potato chips, and go pursue that body you’ve wanted. Put down the golf clubs, and fine tune your craft that is going to take you places.

Normal is boring. Normal is mundane. Normal isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. And crazy will alwaysdestroy normal.

At the end of the day, celebrate your Insaneness. 

And really, this process of “craziness celebration” is pretty easy. You party when you change the tiniest parts of who you are. You stay proud of your individuality. You live with enthusiastic risk, and completely kill your typical day-to-day processes that’s been secretly killing you.

So today when you get into the car to drive home from work, ask yourself, “did I change the world today?”

When you are cooking dinner for the kids tonight, question your relevance and investment into their lives.

While you are on the treadmill working off those last five pounds, ask yourself, “is this for me, or what I think people want to see?”

When you lay your head on your pillow tonight, will your face be filled with smiles, or tears of regret for not doing what you know your life was intended to do?

It’s time to pursue whatever it is you were meant to pursue. Life is a celebration. Create that craziness in your life. And do with your life what you know you are here to do.

Trust me, it’s better that way.

Turn it Into Gold

We’ve all heard the old phrase “Everything you touch turns to gold,” right?

Well, not actually gold… but something even more profitable.

In the world of the local church, most pastors or ministry leaders have to wear different hats. In my personal case, I oversee multiple ministries in our church, such as the worship, production, and media ministries. Because we all wear so many hats, it’s sometimes hard for us to become excellent at all of them. Here is a 4-step procedure that you can take to make something extremely valuable while wearing other ministry hats.

1. Find out where the gold is at. You can’t turn a mundane ministry into something extremely valuable unless you know where to take it. Plan out your short term and long term plans for the ministry, release the vision to your team, and move on to step #2.

2. Find the perfect prospecting tools. Sometimes, you can’t do a ministry right unless you have the right resources. I’m not saying you need the latest 4k camera or the $3,000 guitar, but make sure you provide yourself with the right equipment to get the job done.

3. Dig, dig, and dig. And dig some more. Turning a ministry into something great is not an easy task. There will be hurt, struggle, conflict, and division, but if you keep your eyes on the end prize (which should always be spectacular ministry in Jesus’ name), God will grant you the right vision and open doors to take your ministry to the next level.

4. Don’t stop the first time you find gold. Once you get good at something, it’s hard to decline back down to where you were. Once you feel like you have found that “gold” status in one particular ministry, move on to another ministry and start the gold-finding process all over again.

These are four simple steps you can take to make something mundane to profitable.  I hope they can be an encouragement to you and your ministry.

The Liberty of Creative Death

You will never be original.

All start-ups will have copyright infringements. Every author will plagiarize. All musicians will write cover songs.  No matter what we conjure up in our minds to pursue, our creative development will spill out from our experiences and elements around us. If we were to dig mentally deep enough, our “original” thoughts can be traced back to some thought in our minds from someone or something else that sparked this new creative venture. It’s safe to say, our originality is crippled.

And with this, we feel like every creative venture we take will be in vain.

Far too often, I come across creative entrepreneurs who tend to think that they can demand their creative process to overflow in authenticity and originality. Truth be told, there will never be a time, day, or place where you can tell your creativity to jumpstart itself into original thoughts. The worst part is, thoughts like this will absolutely kill your creativity.

Today’s post isn’t a grouping of sentences to uplift your life, a resource for your creative agenda, or even a cause of purpose one should live by; today’s post is a call to those who call themselves artists.

In a day and age when creativity, authenticity, and originality is in its highest demand, artists are starting to lose themselves in the battle that is their creative genius. They are placing their artistry on calendars, and not investing into their creative souls. Authentic art is part of our everyday war. And artists are losing the battle.

Authentic art is part of our everyday war. And artists are losing the battle.

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Cue, creative death.

Imagine if you were completely destroy your creative process. Starting who you are as a creative from scratch. Becoming a new born infant of creative thoughts and practices. If you are wanting originality in your creativity, it makes sense to kill your current creative agenda, and start from scratch.

And with creative death, comes the birth of originality.

It’s like being born again into a flock of new thoughts and creative endeavors. Your mind becomes clear; so clear, that thoughts you would have never thought of will start pouring into your mind and soul, and that overflow will create some new and amazing things.

Next time you are in a creative funk, shut your laptop down, put the caps back on your pens, and kill your creative process. Find a new way to think, feel, and understand what creativity is. You never know…you might actually come up with a original thought.

Kill your creativity. Rebirth your creative process. And turn your new project into gold.

The Monsters

Risk is a very bad 4 letter word.

Rick involves danger. Exposure. It involves change…and sometimes, change that you don’t necessarily want. It takes the very most private moments of who you are, and puts exactly who you are to the eyes of the judgers.

Risk exposes you. Risk puts you to the test.

Risk is quite easily, a big scary monster.

 

We all have monsters. We all have things in our lives that we are afraid of even contemplating the thought of going near. Almost impossible goals. Relationships being torn. Change. Conflict. Opposition. Judgement. Tension. Losing. Failure.

These are all monsters we fight. And I firmly believe monsters are one of the biggest ingredients we need to become the best creators on earth.

Here’s the thing about monsters: monsters like to creep up and scare us from behind. They hide in the deepest and darkest corners of your life, and strike us at what we think is the most inconvenient time.

Monsters keep us on our toes. And they’re suppose to do just that. Monsters don’t just come out of nowhere. They’re there for a reason, and they attack at the exact times we need them to attack. As someone who strives to live their life as creatively as possible, being aware of your monsters is the one of the greatest ways you can defeat them.

Study your monsters. Figure out what scares them. And then crush them.

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Always remember, you were made to kill your monsters. Study your monsters. Figure out what scares them. And then crush them. The monsters in your life give you a lack of complacency. And that’s exactly what they’re there to do. Don’t let yourself become comfortable. Comfortability equals complacency. Complacency equals status quo. Status quo equals failure. If you let risk become fear, then that means your monsters have defeated you.

At the end of day, when all your monsters have been slain, it’s very important that you don’t become a monster yourself. Keep yourself and your art humble. Just because you conquered today’s monsters does not mean a bigger monster isn’t going to come right at you tomorrow morning. Keep your work, your art, and your profession a place of humility.

Monsters are there for a reason. You were made to kill those monsters. And at the end of the day, don’t become a monster.

Happy creating.

You're a Screw Up. Deal With It.

It’s around 2pm in the afternoon, and I glance down at my phone which shows a blog post I had written over two years ago had been re-tweeted from one of my followers. It had something to do with how churches are trying to be super cool, and cool churches are super irrelevant, and how we need to go back to basics, blah blah blah. You get it.

Honestly, I had completely forgotten that I had even wrote this particular blog post.

After reading said post, I quickly realized that every single thing I wrote in it was a complete contradiction on how I now view my life. I remember sitting there with this almost laughable look on my face, quietly thinking to myself, “wow dude. You really wrote that? Way to send the wrong message.”

Here’s the thing: we’re all going to write something stupid. We’re all going to to do irrevocable things that we wish we could take back. You’re going to say something that you won’t agree with later. We all make decisions based on where we are in life, what we currently invest our souls into, and what drives us to stand our ground on particular subjects.

Just know that down your life path, you’ll probably look back and think you screwed up.

That’s because you ARE a screw up. And that’s cool. Because you don’t have to be perfect to be who you are.

let me throw out this disclaimer; I’m not giving you permission to do whatever you want. This isn’t me saying “sure, go down whatever life path you want, who cares?” I’m not saying that at all. If I’m saying anything, it’s this: be yourself and who you are in that moment. Don’t hide your personality from other people. Stand up for what you believe in. Always do the right thing. Be passionate. Rise above the peer pressure of those around you, and live authentically. Force yourself to be who you really are. And when you look back on your life and the crazy things you said and did, you’ll have a smile on your face, because even though right now you might think it was an immature act, you knew you were standing on ground that you believed in.

In two years, I’m sure I’ll look back on this post, and wish I had written it differently.

That’s because I’m a screw up. And so are you.

And that’s perfectly okay.

Be a screw up.

It’s better that way.