By: Todd Elliott
I’ve been working my way through the New Testament and came across a verse that I had highlighted in an earlier reading:
“Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.” – 2 Cor. 9:6
I’m sure I’ve read this verse countless times, and each time I’ve viewed it from the standpoint of money. However, this time it struck me completely differently.
If I were honest, because so much of what we do as technical artists requires perfection…or at least no mistakes, it can be really easy to be protective and grabby when it comes to what I’m responsible for.
It can be difficult for me to delegate, because what if that other person makes a mistake but I’m the one responsible for the outcome? I’ll just do it myself.
I love new creative ideas, but because it’s new, it probably means I might not know how to execute it; I don’t know all the ways it could go wrong. I’m going to have to say “no”.
This type of behavior is what I would call “Sowing sparingly”.
In my earlier years as a technical artist, I wondered why people didn’t give me the benefit of the doubt more often. I wondered why most conversations had me on the defensive. Looking back, I was in the “sow sparingly” category.
As a technical artist, the concept of sowing sparingly is about being careful. It is about trying to control each situation as much as possible. It is about protecting the idea of “no mistakes”.
If I were honest, when I was fully living out my life this way, I was miserable. And I’m pretty sure the people around me were also. Or at least they didn’t want to include me in their brainstorming or their new ideas, because they knew it would not be a fun conversation.
Somewhere along the way, I realized that I could be more open-handed with my craft; that I could be more honest about the “what might happen”s in any new idea. I didn’t need to live in a world where all success or failure landed on my shoulders. It was something that we were doing together and the point was that we were sharing that burden.
When I started living a life of generous sowing, things changed dramatically. For one thing, I began to enjoy collaborating. I loved working out an idea together to figure out how to actually do it. Working out of a generous place opens up the possibilities; now we’re not just doing the same old thing, but we’re able to think outside the box a little.
Sowing with generosity means that I’m delegating when I can; sharing what I know and developing those around me with potential. Living in a “no mistakes” world isn’t really possible. The idea is to learn and stretch each other, which means that mistakes will happen as part of the journey. If we aren’t making mistakes, our world is probably increasingly narrow and limited…sowing sparingly.
If the body of Christ is made of people who are supposed to be using their gifts for the common good, we need to create opportunities for people to serve. This requires leading our teams with generosity. As a leader, the beauty of leading this way is that generosity becomes a part of your culture. The team will follow your example.
I have been amazed in my life at what God can do when I live generously. On the opposite side of that same coin, it is depressing to think how many times I limited what God wanted to do in me and my ministry because I was too afraid of what would happen if I was more generous. Generous with collaboration. Generous with delegation. Generous with people.
In what ways are you sowing sparingly? What is one area or one relationship that you can loosen your grip and practice generosity?
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To learn more on this top of team development, check out Jeff Boriss’ Breakout from FILO 2018: “Working Yourself Out of a Job – Developing People”.