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I’ve had the privilege over the last few weeks of leading my local small group through my first book Worshipping God in Every Sense.

Has it been fun? Yes.

Has it been humbling? Yes.

Has it made me cringe at times? YES!!

I have had this study edited and proofread multiple times and there are still errors that embarrass the life out of me. I still believe in the content, but the delivery oftentimes has made me gag. What I am learning though is that I must write to get better at writing. It’s just the way it is.

Perfectionism would have me believe I could never publish a blog, or write a book, or teach a Bible study without everything being “perfect”, but the fact of the matter is perfection doesn’t happen without practice. Actually, I think the better phraseology would be getting better doesn’t happen without practice. I’m beginning to realize perfection is a myth. But I digress…

We know practice is necessary in sports, but I’m not sure we remember this as much in creative endeavors.

Have you heard of James Audubon? Actually, his name was John James Audubon. He was an ornithologist and painter (The Audubon Society is named after him). What I want you to know is that for many years on his birthday he would destroy all the paintings and drawings he had finished during that particular year. Every year on his birthday he would start fresh. Why? His work had not reached perfection.

Wow.

Can you imagine what those images would be worth today? How much would an early work of James Audubon go for at auction? I can’t even imagine.

More than that though…how much encouragement did James miss out on by destroying earlier works?

What do I mean?

What if James had simply placed all of the year’s work on each birthday in a special storage area? Year after year he worked, but instead of destroying his earlier pieces, he simply put them away. What if after five, or six years, or maybe when he was discouraged about not getting a certain bird’s wing exactly right, he went to his earlier works, removed a painting from storage and was able to see how far he had come?

Can you even imagine how encouraged he would have been to keep going by seeing how much he had improved? Instead, he kept looking at his flaws and burned them.

Wow.

I’m realizing sometimes we have to look back to see how far we’ve come.

That’s been the thing with going back to my earlier work… the content I have in my mind about a subject is basically the same, but the way I convey those thoughts on a page now versus then varies. It’s shocking to me, but if I had never written that first study, I would never see the growth like I see it now.

Am I embarrassed by the earlier work?

Some, but I am refusing to take it off the market because I believe in the content, I believe in vulnerability and I believe in not allowing the chase to perfection mar the path I am currently on. When I look back, I am able to see how far I’ve come.

Perfection is a myth that keeps us from practicing.

I must write to get better at writing.

Others must paint to get better at painting.

Others must speak publicly in order to become better at speaking.

And yes, others must dribble a basketball to get better at dribbling a basketball.

Chasing perfect is a good endeavor unless it impedes our progress.

When I think of Mr. Audubon, it makes me so sad, and I actually remember gasping when I heard of his birthday practice. I have to ask myself though… we have to ask ourselves… how many imperfections have we thrown away (either physically or mentally) because of the image we want to portray?

Do I want others to think the first Bible study I had the honor to write is amazing? Of course! That’s why it’s so hard to leave it alone, but if I get bogged down in making the first study “perfect”, I will never move on to the other studies God has in store for me to write.

Will I ever go back and re-write the first study? Maybe, but I am not re-writing it for several years. Purposefully. I think it’s important for me to leave it alone and let God remind me it’s about His perfection… not mine. It’s about chasing the Perfector of our faith, not perfection.  

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