I used to paint by numbers as a kid. My sisters got me hooked because they would do it all the time, and since I wanted to impress others with my artistic skill I started to paint horses, landscapes, and sometimes even some stupid flowers. It was always paint by numbers. You know what I’m talking about right? Those pictures that would come pre-drawn on a pseudo-canvas, with tiny numbers in each section. All you had to do is match the number on the paint color, with the number in the pre-drawn area, and then fill it in. When you start out it looks pretty good because you already had the picture drawn, and you can see where you are going the entire time. There’s really no mystery to it, and no layering or creating, it’s just coloring for big kids, but I did it. In fact I did it a lot until one day I went garage-saleing with my mom and we walked into some strangers garage and there for 25 cents a piece were my paintings! Of course they weren’t my paintings but somebody else’s who happened to buy the exact same pre-drawn painting and filled it in. There they were for a mere 25 cents, and the funny thing was they looked identical to the ones in my room that I was so proud of. I considered it art. I showed everybody my paintings because I wanted them to look at me and value me for having the potential to be the next Van Gough. However, on the muggy summer morning in 1977 I realized that I wasn’t an artist, I was a colorer.
I was trying to be valued. I wanted what I worked on to be valued, and since the pre-drawn pseudo-canvases were valuable enough to sell in a store, then surely I could add a little talent to the outline and therefore be valued. But that’s not how value works, yet it’s what we do everyday of our lives. We work so hard. We go to work on time, we do all of our emails, and we take all the phone calls. We play with our kids, we make sure all the bills are paid, and there is food on the table, and for that hard work we think we should be valued. However, that’s not how value is rated.
We think if we find something else that is already working for someone, or if we can find a pattern or form, then we can just pour a little bit of us into it and then we will make something of value and therefore be valued. Replicas and copies are never as valuable as an original. The original Gutenberg Bible is worth way more than the typical bible you can pick up at Walmart or steal out of the hotel room drawer on your next vacation. Originals are always valued more than copies.
You’re an original. Nobody on planet earth has the exact same DNA as you. Nobody has the same personality, likes or dislikes as you. You are truly an original. I have had to learn that planting a church is my opportunity to create an original. It would be very easy to take a form and a model that has worked for several others, and just fill it in with the right colors in the right places, and therefore it will be highly valued and successful. I have learned that is a load of poo-poo. What I need to do is create a church that is an original. A church that glorifies Christ in an original form and way. Copy –cats are everywhere, originals are valued.
So are you acting like a copy-cat or an original? Are you creating things at work and at home or are you just copying someone else’s life hoping it will pan out for you? Everybody wants to be valued, it’s seared into our core at creation, but how we go about being valued can either be successful, or a demoralizing venture of futility. Be the original that God created you to be, even if it is painful at first, in the end you will find the value that you’ve been looking for.