A World Short on Masters

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Have you ever looked at an actual Rembrandt? I mean really looked? I have. And it is exhausting. Why? Because Rembrandt was a master. If you are willing to look, he will show more than you can take in. This is what masters do.

The Dutch painter Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn (1606-1669) is widely regarded as the greatest painter Europe has ever produced. Even while he was alive, people called him “the master.” Eager, rising artists would study under his watchful eye in his studio. They wanted to learn how to reproduce his technique and form. German art historian Wilhelm von Bode joked that the unintended consequence of this sort of mentorship was that “Rembrandt painted 700 pictures. Of these, 3,000 are still in existence.”

Adoration of the Shepherds

The Adoration of the Shepherds

Aside from his technical skill, Rembrandt was also a masterful visual storyteller. Every inch of a Rembrandt is filled with intentionality. His use of light to show you what matters (like the radiance coming out from the manger in The Adoration of the Shepherds) and his application of shadows to raise questions (like the dark figure in the upper left corner of his Return of the Prodigal Son) is often imitated, but never quite duplicated. His ability to capture furious motion a single frame (like in The Storm on the Sea of Galilee) plays like an optical illusion.

I’ll leave you to discover the great Dutch master on your own. For now, I want to focus on something Rembrandt said: “I can’t paint the way they want me to paint and they know that too. Of course you will say that I ought to be practical and ought to try and paint the way they want me to paint. Well, I will tell you a secret. I have tried and I have tried very hard, but I can’t do it. I just can’t do it!”

Rembrandt knew he was a great artist, no question. But he also knew he wasn’t limitless. And one of his limits (a limit we all share) was his inability to be what people sometimes wanted him to be or to do what people sometimes wanted him to do. This must have been very frustrating at times. Surely there must have been days when he would have loved more than anything else in the world to be exactly what others wanted him to be. I have those days.

return-prodigal-son[1] 1669 copy

Return of the Prodigal Son

He was so incredibly gifted and for this history will never forget him. But when he tried to train his hands to create another man’s vision, he just couldn’t do it. Neither can I. Neither can you. He was destined to paint Rembrants and Rembrandts only.

He had to train his hands. He had to have started somewhere. It’s hard to imagine, but surely there once existed some pretty terrible Rembrandts. Early works. False starts. Work where he was clearly trying too hard. Too self-indulgent. Undisciplined. What’s not hard to imagine, however, is a solitary figure in a lamp-lit room mixing his oils, preening his brushes—thinking and painting and thinking and painting.

For what? For mastery. And why? For joy, because the mastery of something leads to a greater enjoyment of it. Singers, musicians, painters, writers, athletes, and artists of every sort know this. The harder we work at something, the more we are able to enjoy it. Rembrandt knew this too. He said, “Practice what you know, and it will help to make clear what now you do not know.” Annie Dillard said it another way: “Who will teach me to write? The page, the page, that eternal blankness.”

Rembrandt, The Storm on the Sea of Galilee

The Storm on the Sea of Galilee

All Rembrandt could do was paint and paint and paint. He couldn’t be a different painter. Only Rembrandt. And this is what he sought to master. For this he trained his hands.

When I stand before a Rembrandt, my senses come alive and I know I am in the presence of greatness. I am a fool if I don’t at least try to understand the joy that comes from mastery. I’m a fool if I don’t regard myself as his student in those moments when we’re in the room together. His slow patient work of mastering a skill brings me joy. How much more joy must it have brought him to not only stand in front of one of his paintings, as I have, but to then also know that he was the one who created it.

A couple hundred years after Rembrandt’s death, there came another student of the Dutch master, the poor and lovely Vincent van Gogh, who said, “Rembrandt is so deeply mysterious that he says things for which there are no words in any language. Rembrandt is truly called a magician… that is not an easy calling.”

Mastery doesn’t just produce stories. It considers how to tell them, and occasionally even provides new language when there are no words. The canvases Rembrandt left us do so much more than illustrate scenes. They are like the picture of the Dawn Treader that sucked the Pevensies and Eustace into an adventure whose goal was to reach the end of everything in the hopes that beauty would be all that remained.

What are you mastering? What are you practicing in order to make clear what you don’t yet know? If you’re anything like me, I’m sure you reach points where you begin to wonder if it might just be easier to plateau. And if not plateau, then quit altogether.

Don’t. Please. This world is short on masters, and consequently short on joy too.

 

Profile photo of Russ Ramsey

Russ Ramsey and his wife and four children make their home in Nashville, Tennessee. He is a pastor at Christ Presbyterian Church and the author of Struck: One Christian's Reflections on Encountering Death (IVP, 2017), Behold the Lamb of God: An Advent Narrative (Rabbit Room Press, 2011) and Behold the King of Glory: A Narrative of the Life, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ (Crossway, 2015). He is a graduate of Taylor University (1991) and Covenant Theological Seminary (MDiv – 2000, ThM – 2003). Follow Russ on Facebook / Twitter / Instagram.


61 Comments

  1. Drew Zahn

    Thanks, Russ. I’ve been so disheartened lately over my own “pretty terrible Rembrandts,” that quitting seemed the easier option. And perhaps it would be easier. But it would also be denying the joy and the author of joy. And I can’t really live without the joy. I’m reminded of the verse describing what kept Jesus on the Cross, “For the joy set before him…” A lot of word to say thank you and Him, for leading me beside some quiet waters that my soul might be restored. I’m not quitting yet. Thank you.

  2. Kyle Keating

    Wonderful. Rembrandt truly was a master of his craft. Reading Henri Nouwen’s reflection on the Return of the Prodigal Son gave me such a great appreciation for how painting can speak in a profoundly wordless language.

    It seems in our age that there is such an emphasis on teaching kids to be good at everything that there are many who are competent, and yet few who are masters. Perhaps this gets at a deeper sense of what it means to be called and to work within our God-given gifts.

  3. Loren

    Beautifully illustrated challenge, Russ. So often I settle for accomplishing the humdrum rather than striving to be the best that God desires me to be. After all, how else can I truly glorify Him?

  4. SarahN

    Thanks for this post! There are too few striving for mastery in this day and age, I think. And I’ve been at places where I was too focused on what other people were expecting, and the results of that have always been…..sub-par. It’s a God-given thing, an artist’s style and identity–what they were created to create. Thanks.

  5. Hannah

    I love this post! Is it because I love art so much? I don’t know. But it’s a great call to action. Especially when I’m so stuck on trying to make my art like some other person’s work, and wondering why I’m failing. You can love your artists, admire them, but you can’t do their work. You can’t do what others want you to do, you have to do what you want to do.

    Thanks, Mr. Ramsey. This is great.

  6. Becca

    Thank you, Russ. I love this.

    Speaking of the value of practice: Rembrandt’s sketches are my favorites of all his work. In fact, I think his paintings pale in comparison to the raw, essential beauty of his skeletal workings out of form.

    Google offers some insight, but if you ever have a chance to see these in person, they are worth whatever drive it takes to get you there. It is difficult for me to explain how important they are in words. They are the visual equivalent of Robert Henri’s _The Art Spirit._

  7. Brian Morykon

    First, what lovely new dressings for the Rabbit Room. The rich content now has a fitting design.

    And then this post. What a cool drink to a desert-parched artist. Much like Drew, discouragement has weaseled it’s way into my soul. I’ve compared myself to others and found myself lacking. I’ve been given 2 talents and have spent time being jealous of and striving to be like him who started with 5.

    But, oh to reclaim the joy of creating. May we take with thanksgiving whatever we’re given and invest it in joy. Thank you for the reminder that it is good to master something merely for enjoying God in the midst of the mastery. I often feel like there has to be some other end, something more noble than enjoyment. How have I forgotten the chief end of man so quickly? Glorify and enjoy God, what’s more noble than that!

  8. Eric Green

    “He had to train his hands to paint…”

    Discipline begets mastery, mastery begets freedom.

    Everybody wants to have that freedom, but it is only for those who will embrace that discipline.

  9. Dave Bruno

    I love this post. Rembrandt is wonderful.

    May I add an additional angle to this discussion? Over the years a notion has troubled me. What I’ve come to call “mastery as arrival.” It’s the idea that when we’ve mastered something we will have arrived at a place of satisfaction, contentment. In another place I put it this way:

    “The master confronts a problem in need of a solution, not through perfection, but by skill and creativeness. The belief that a master has arrived at an endpoint is antithetical to the very character of a master, whose contentment exists in the knowledge that she possesses the mind and physique to participate in her craft, not to dominate it. It needs to be added, the master’s wisdom includes recognizing and making compromises that cannot be described as superior. We call the person of skill who cannot accept limits pathological.”

    Sorry for the long quote. Not trying to toot my own horn. It’s just that this post struck a nerve. I have mixed feelings about mastery. It seems like a worthy pursuit, but an unworthy end.

  10. Profile photo of Lanier Ivester

    Lanier Ivester

    @lanier

    Such a good word for me today, Russ, as I sat down at the piano to hack away at a stubborn Brahms Intermezzo I’ve been trying to master for years.

    And after that, as I settle at my desk before that blank screen…

    Thank you for reminding me how valid it all is and how real is the joy.

  11. Joshua Marsh

    “Who will teach me to write? The page, the page, that eternal blankness.”

    This is so true with writing music. I find myself writing and feeling like my words are just filled with dead leaves, a poor representation of the tree they fell from.

    My prayer is that God gives me the strength to focus on being a master of the gifts He has given me without being so focused on what the world deems adequate.

  12. Profile photo of Ron Block

    Ron Block

    @ronblock

    Dave Bruno: Pat Metheny described it musically as stretching our abilities to match what our ear can hear. But as our abilities stretch, so does our ear, so that the standard continues to be ahead of us. How could we fully explore something as limitless as music in a single human lifetime?

  13. Jaclyn

    Thank you so much, Russ, for this encouragement. I was just about to poop out from straining against my limitations. It seems it’s never futile to labor toward mastery, only futile to labor toward the mastery of another’s gift.

    Ahh, I can make it through another day.

  14. Profile photo of Ron Block

    Ron Block

    @ronblock

    Russ, another thought. In our modern world “believing in yourself” is the mantra. But mere self belief won’t make a Rembrandt. I remember in the movie version of Pride and Prejudice Lady Catherine says, “If I had played I would have been a great proficient.” That’s all very well and good to say, but the fact remains that she didn’t play and she wasn’t a great proficient.

    That’s where faith has to kick in. “I can get better and better if I practice guitar wisely.” Day by day goes by, and day by day we work at it. A year later we’re a lot better.

    That’s the thing that’s lacking in this instant gratification culture. We’re surrounded by pretend things. If I can get a vicarious thrill of being a martial arts expert in Street Fighter 7, even though I couldn’t kick a third grader’s butt, then I don’t have to spend countless hours honing my technique. If I can get fake adventures through Runescape, I don’t have to actually go out in the woods and sleep in a tent and encounter real life survival problems. If I can be a Guitar Hero in ten minutes and beat others at the game, why spend fifteen years developing a guitar technique?

    Faith kicks in; we step out on sheer faith, on nothing; we can’t play guitar at all. Step by step the path appears under us. Ten years later we’re, like, all, like soooo totally shredding and stuff (but linguistically, I digress). The endurance of faith is what causes the substance to appear. That’s what makes a Rembrandt.

  15. Danielle

    It’s amazing how often this place tells me exactly what I need to hear.

    Thank you for the reminder.

  16. Heather Carrillo

    I love the von Bode quote. I actually did laugh out loud.

    Great pep talk on the practice! Some of the problem with the shortage of masters, is that art has changed so much over the years. There’s almost no unifying concept or parameters or an “oughtness” to art anymore. It’s just, whatever people want it to be, so there’s no incentive to master. Thanks for some truth!

  17. JenniferT

    Dorothy Sayers X-box game? Will Lord Peter be fighting criminals with a cricket bat and a projectile pince-nez?

    (Couldn’t resist the idea….okay, back to Russ’s beautiful topic…)

  18. Kim

    Very affirming. Thank you! “And this is what he sought to master—how to be Rembrandt.” The freedom that comes from studying ourselves and mastering our unique gifts is exhilarating.

  19. Charlene

    . . . and a wee breath, quiet & quick gets caught in the throat on its way back from the heart. Before the head analyzes it builds a tear – resonates, reverberates, rejuvenates; “Ancora Imparo” he said; I am still learning wrote Michelangelo. We each have the heart of a Michelangelo, a Rembrandt – we are each only one.

  20. Wayne Braudrick

    Russ, thank you for the excellent reminder – a Petersen/Wingfeather-esque call to live out who we are in Christ and develop our unique Master gifts. While I was teaching in Amsterdam for three weeks a few years ago, my wife & kids viewed the numerous Rembrandts there many times. They will also enjoy the post. Thanks again!

  21. Jud

    Not sure exactly how this works into the discussion here, but I struggle with making much effort to practice anything when I know I’ll never become a master at it compared to someone else.

  22. The One True Stickman

    I struggle with this a lot. (This being mastery of a thing.) Partly the instant gratification (laziness), partly the struggling to “emulate” (read: copy) others, but in large part the knack for being interested in so many things and not having time for them all. Is it possible to pursue mastery at jack-of-all-trades? I do not master songwriting, guitar, woodwork, gardening, or electronics, nor do I get to many worthy projects because I dabble at everything. And yet I can’t imagine giving up any one facet completely. Thanks, all, for the timely food for thought.

    And I would totally play that Dorothy Sayers X-box game. At what level do we unlock the harlequin outfit? (And JenniferT: don’t discount the mad hybrid-judo skills, cricket bat or no.)

  23. Nick and Susan

    Oh, I’m grateful that there are only profile pictures and not video cameras recording as I type this. I thought I’d pop on here whilst having my breakfast – hoping for ‘something’ to nourish my mind. So, I stood munching a bananna, hair dripping wet and now I have tears running down my cheeks (not a pretty sight at all).

    “And this is what he sought to master—how to be Rembrandt”

    Upon reading that line the tears began to flow and then I remembered how well Lucy’s desire to be like Susan’ in the Dawn Treader film was played out, what a waste and what a loss if there had been no Lucy. What a loss it would be if there had been no Rembrandt, or what if there was no ‘me’ playing guitar all because I believed I would never get any good? Or what if there was no ‘me’ as mom because I tried to be someone else?

  24. kelli

    Susan…what if there was no you to bless my life in the way that you have, dear heart?

    Reading what you wrote brought tears to my eyes. Hasn’t He created us all…each so unique and beautiful…to be the vessel He can live through in our particular situation? And how quick we are to look elsewhere for both identity and betterment.

  25. Eddy Efaw

    Thank your for your mastery of the word and of the skill of taking a slice of theology and making it tangible. Also thank you or using examples from the visual arts in this post. I feel as if the visual arts in particular have been overlooked so often in church circles as a way to see and show our Creator. I teach both Art and Bible at a Christ-centered private school in Memphis (Harding Academy) and I intend to find a way to use this post to engage them in this much needed conversation about using their gifts to glorify God. Also, while the visual artists are zoned in (and other artsy types too) I’d like to pass on a shout out to a book that has helped shape my theology on being a Christian/artists. It’s a book called Imagine: A Vision For Christians in the Arts by Steve Turner. I can’t recommend it highly enough. Maybe it will get a nod by the Rabbit Room review team sometime : )

    http://www.amazon.com/Imagine-Vision-Christians-Steve-Turner/dp/0830822917/ref=sr_1_5?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1304591419&sr=1-5

  26. Julie

    Many thanks. I have a book on Rembrandt – what his artwork teaches us about ourselves – on my shelf just waiting to be read. Perhaps it’s time. This is beautiful and I’ll be sharing with others.

  27. Gaylyn Pantana

    To assert ourselves towards mastery is to accept the burning desire in our souls to discover something truly original. We hope and can nearly imagine the ecstasy of finding it.
    Only when we practice do we understand the frailty of our legs and grasp the height of the ascent. Only when we persevere do we get to be heirs in the act of Creation with God.
    To stand beside the work of our own hand, our own mind and experience something we alone have created, is to stand in the awe of the opportunity of this life. God has given us talents and the incredible world we live in. He has given us each uniqueness, our own soul-we add the blood, sweat, and tears; this is the recipe for creating art. To achieve it is to stand shoulder to shoulder with God and watch as something beautiful blooms out of nothing, right from your own hand.

  28. Gaylyn Pantana

    To assert ourselves towards mastery is to accept the burning desire in our souls to discover something truly original. We hope and can nearly imagine the ecstasy of finding it.
    Only when we practice do we understand the frailty of our legs and grasp the height of the ascent. Only when we persevere do we get to be heirs in the act of Creation with God.
    To stand beside the work of our own hand, our own mind and experience something we alone have created, is to stand in the awe of the opportunity of this life. God has given us talents and the incredible world we live in. He has given us each uniqueness, our own soul-we add the blood, sweat, and tears; this is the recipe for creating art. When we achieve this we stand shoulder to shoulder with God as we watch something unfold and bloom out of nothing, right from our own hand!

  29. Loren

    So Becca, does the Dorothy Sayers game come in Wii? 🙂 I’d love to try my hand at punting from Magdalen Bridge. I have a feeling I’d master that far faster than doing it in reality (based on my one ill-fated attempt punting on the Cam….).

    And once again, Ron Block, you’ve hit the point directly!

  30. Becca

    She’s sort of Lara Croft + wire-rimmed spectacles. There’s a monkey named Jack who sits on her shoulder. He spits poison phlegm, and she shoots lasers out of her eyes. If you make it to level 5, there’s a fountain pen grappling hook; but you have to slay Earl Grey and swim through a vat of steak and kidney pie to land it.

    Wii. For two weeks, I’ve been trying to work in a meeting with high-level Nintendo peeps, but Steve Jobs won’t get off my case about developing the iDot app for iPad. If he would just loosen up about Sayers wearing a black, mock turtleneck instead of pleather, I think we could actually get somewhere.

  31. Sarah

    Wow, thank you so much for this contemplation… and this challenge. Beautifully written.

    I had a few hours at the Boston MFA last year and plunked myself down in front of two Rembrandts. Of all the paintings I saw that day, those linger on in my mind. I remember the shock I felt at realizing that somehow, with brush and paint, he caught the spirit of his subject in such a way that I felt I knew exactly what would make her laugh.

    His mastery, and your essay, push all of us toward something that is more than “practice makes perfect.” I’ll never attain perfection, but I can continually reach for a fuller expression of the beauty of I see in all that I create. It reminds me of that note in my Bible that always reminds me that the word translated as “perfect,” means “complete, or having integrity.” This is what I think we all shoot for in what we create; a fuller expression of the truth and beauty we have found and yearn to give again to the world.

  32. luaphacim

    Russ, I know you probably didn’t mean to make me feel guilty with the last two paragraphs in this post, but there the guilt is nonetheless. 🙂

    Lately, it seems like the only thing I am mastering is the ability to burn my candle at more ends than even the most imaginative topologist could conceive of. Which is to say, many. The new baby is demanding, as new babies are. My job is also demanding — so much so that it has been eating all my carefully hoarded writing time in the mornings.

    Perhaps it sounds like a cop-out, but I find that I am less and less concerned with artistic production than I used to be. I am more concerned with trying to balance my life out so it’s less crazy and more joyful.

    Is that something worthy of mastering? I’m not sure I want an answer from anyone but myself on that question — and I’m jiggered if I know what it is either.

  33. Hannah

    Luaphacim,
    Feel free to stop reading if you don’t want an answer from anyone but yourself on this 🙂
    This is a humble opinion, but for what it’s worth I think it would be unfortunate to limit our definition of art to what we write, paint, play…finding balance, loving those near you, being a parent–these things are a kind of art, too, and your investment in mastering them is so very worthwhile.
    Some life seasons have less time for artistic productivity than others, but I do think that sometimes a drought of art time can grow deeper roots within your soul. In other words, I’ve always assumed that I can’t write deeply if I haven’t lived deeply. Perhaps this time of not having time is the very thing God will use to store up in you that which will produce fruit later.

  34. Profile photo of Russ Ramsey

    Russ Ramsey

    @russramsey

    Lauphacim, you are touching on some pretty sacred ground for many folks; the “What happens when life fills up in a way where I can’t pursue the things I used to have time for?” question. These seasons often call for very legitimate changes.

    Giving attention to crafting a less crazy, more joyful life is an art in itself. And in your case, your audience is the most precious audience you’ll ever know– your own family. If you are giving yourself to the art of loving your babies well, that’s good work. Don’t feel even a hint of guilt for filling your days with the care of those God has given you to nurture and raise. It’s the pinnacle of human creative work. Rather than canvases or mp3’s, you are playing a role right now in the creation of a person. Compared to that, any Rembrandt is just old cloth and dried up oil.

  35. Profile photo of Lanier Ivester

    Lanier Ivester

    @lanier

    Hearty second on the Schaeffer, Heather. I can’t recommend that book highly enough. I’ve lost count of how many times I have given it to people.

  36. Becca

    Two thoughts on artistic motherhood. They will seem at first to compete, but they do not in practice.

    1.) Motherhood/Wifedom is an oft overlooked art form, the beauty of which grows exponentially over time. It is worth the expansiveness of your creative energy.

    Two Sayers quotes that could relate to this:

    “… most of us have a very narrow experience of the act of creation. It is true that everybody is a ‘maker’ in the simplest meaning of the term. We spend our lives putting matter together in new patterns and so ‘creating’ forms which were not there before. This is so intimate and universal a function of nature that we scarcely ever think about it.”

    “A whole artistic work is immeasurably more than the sum of its parts.”

    2. There is also a value — once newborn fatigue passes — in making pockets of time to create non-domestic art before your children. So don’t feel guilty about making reasonable margins for art, because they will learn from your love.

    A quote from Brenda Ueland’s _If You Want to Write_ follows. (This is a book I discovered through Ron Block’s blog):

    “If you would shut your door against the children for an hour a day and say: ‘Mother is working on her five-act tragedy in blank verse!’ you would be surprised how they would respect you. They would probably all become playwrights.”

    When my oldest were little, I felt so much pressure to become the next Elizabeth Elliot + June Cleaver. I felt urging to become a “type” instead of listening to God’s internal, specific calling for me. There’s little wonder, in light of this, that my worship shriveled. I was parenting via legalism.

    If it is not made an idol, but pursued in the yielded filling of Christ, letting children see your passion for creativity can inspire them forever. I have seen this happen in my kids, now 14, 11, and 3.

    For years I grieved that I had to make art like I had to breathe and eat. I grieved that my children grew up in a home that was not domestic perfection as a result. I asked God to change that about me. He did not. Instead, He gave me a more beautiful gift. He gave me children who live creating.

    My kids understand their role as makers. Hallelujah! I am thrilled to watch them launched into a world in desperate need of beauty. I can’t think of a heritage more pleasing.

  37. kelli

    I “third” Edith Schaeffer’s book…it is priceless!

    Another wonderful book that Russ’ most recent comment reminds me of is “Andi Ashworth’s Real Love for Real Life: The Art and Work of Caring.” It is also very much worth reading.

    And, Becca…my girls are the same…makers who constantly are bringing beauty into our home. They live and breathe it, and they would flounder without it. To me, that is more important than so many other things that might be lacking in our family’s life (at least in the world’s eyes). They are expressing the image of the One in whom they are created!

  38. Loren

    Thanks Russ, Heather, Becca, Kelli (and all) for the encouraging reminders of how life in the home and family is a work of art. I’m in the midst of the busy family season with little ones consuming me it seems at times (today they just climbed me….) and I need the constant reminder that God has called me to this “art”right now, and if my children grow up knowing the beauty of our Maker and loving Him above all, and knowing they are loved by Him, then it’s worth all the unwritten novels and paintings never finished.

  39. Peter Paulson

    There is a book about masters named “Outliers” which is an interesting sociological look at some modern pop-culture masters. One thing it finds that’s consistent and common with masters is they will spend 10,000hrs working in their field to begin to gain mastery.

  40. Chris Yokel

    Thank you Russ, I needed to hear this right now, especially the part about beginning. Lately I’ve been launched on a project of trying to craft my music into sound for others, and I’ve just been frustrated by my current limitations. Today was the day that I had decided I would go back and continue working, so this is a perfect mental catalyst for that.

  41. Jen

    Here I was, all excited for RR2.0, but in my busy week I never got to read much of it. Boo.

    But catching up now, and this was wonderful to read today. Thank you. It’s inspiring, but it’s also a bit intimidating. It’s so much easier to look at a master, be blown away, say “well I’ll never get there” and give up. Perhaps that’s why there are so few…

    Thanks for the beautiful reminder to never give up. I passed this on to my artist sister who is also inspired and intimidated now. 🙂

  42. David | MosaicMercy

    I would add that masters don’t need to be recognized by the masses.

    I believe that some of us were created to create. God gave us a great desire to create and this, I believe, is an act of service to Him.

    Become masters of our art for our Master.

    I love this post because it is motivational in helping us not give up in the area of creation and always strive for better. 🙂

  43. L.L. Barkat

    Excellent.

    I think perhaps our education system promotes lack-of-mastery, as we are compelled to study broadly and little time is left over to pursue passions deeply. Also, once we’re done with school and college, we somehow think we’ve graduated. To what? Rarely to more learning.

    I am getting my own personal doctorate in poetry, without enrolling in any program. Poetry, for now, is what I hope to master. Read, read, read; write, write, write. 🙂

  44. the joyful potter

    Although my days (and sometimes nights) are spent in mothering, right now, there are myriad other “careers” that tempt me away. Mothering is the career of love, more difficult than any other I have tried. I will aim for mastery, now, though plateaus threaten in every direction. Thank God he is my Master, and promises guidance.

  45. Travis Stewart

    Thanks Russ. This is like a balm to me today as I’ve been struggling with just what it is I can “master”. I’m not sure I have an answer to that but you did remind me is that all I can do is follow my gut. I’m so vulnerable to trying to do things the ways others have, especially mentors, that I get lost. Thanks for reminding me that’s not my calling.

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