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    « Book Review :: Embracing Obscurity by Anonymous | Main | Short Book Review :: Grace by Max Lucado »

    Instead of Being Original, Be Truthful

    hard work 2

    In an essay entitled "Membership," C. S. Lewis writes:

    No man who values originality will ever be original. But try to tell the truth as you see it, try to do any bit of work as well as it can be done for the work's sake, and what men call originality will come unsought.

    The essay itself is a corrective on the true nature of church membership, and a critical engagement with obsessive individuality. Lewis ends his essay on a powerful note, that of new creation, and its relevance for those who are part of a church, an entity that in the collective and the representative parts is being remade. But Lewis' remarks concerning originality, and its relation to human endeavor, is what captured my imagination, for who in the creative arts is not striving to be seen as a true original, truly unique?

    Whether the work be writing or some other creative endeavor, or, let's say any other job, these remarks have relevance. Even the bus driver, who is committed to truth telling and doing work with excellence for the sake of the work, can come to be seen as an original.

    I think here of a woman I worked with for four years. She was fully committed to doing excellent work as a driver. She greeted every child by name, with a smile, and a love that breaks the stern stereotype of the bus driver. She decorated her bus for the different seasons of the year, dressed up for Halloween, and celebrated accomplishments of her students. She was truly a professional, and thus an original, not because she did her work to be noticed, but instead did her work for the work's sake, the best as she was able to do it.

    In every field of endeavor, there is a truthful, excellent way to perform one's work. So whatever you do, undertake the work today for the work's sake, not for the sake of your own name. Put yourself aside, and simply strive for excellence.

    And one day, without you even realizing, others may begin to notice your originality, which you only see as a normalcy, for your work will be conducted with truth.

    In Paul's letter to the Colossians, it is written, "Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him." Work done "in the name of the Lord Jesus" is likewise work done in truth, for Jesus himself said, "I am the...truth."

    Don't worry about originality. Don't worry about self-promotion or vain ambitions. Just do the work and do it well, and give thanks to the source of every breath, every opportunity, the one who created you as an original, who is now calling you to be remade, a new creation, fully and truly human.

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