Contemplations & Conversations on Creative Leadership: “Too Good” Part 2

This is Part 2 of 4 in a series…. 

The myth of the easy…It’s not really “work” for you artist types

Often people will look in awe at what a musician on stage can do and some brazenly proclaim that creative work is not real work. Why? For one, it is fun and two, it looks so easy. But, the sacrifice to learn a craft, put a heart-birthed work in front of others, and to let it go is no easy task. Just because the work’s creation process is not visible, does not mean it is non-existent.

When a construction project for a large building is underway it takes months before the first floor is even visible. The grading, the utilities and the even the permit process along with the design are enormous tasks. The artist works to prepare the platform for presenting an excellent creation not in the light but in the practice room, art studio or classroom.

What happens is that envy kicks in when someone in another department sees another department getting noticed. And, if the one being noticed is music, graphics or any creative endeavor it seems common for human nature to label it as easy. Its a way to minimize the reality of hard work which is often the resulting visible talent being displayed.

It is like asking a very good preacher, “what do you do during the week?”  The quality of a good speaker is in his or her crafting of the message and execution is the result. The hard work of study, agonizing contemplation and hours of practice is what make a speech or sermon “too good”. Its also the years of life experience and education that make the man or woman delivering it capable. The “ease factor” is by no means as easy to pull off as it seems.

Gordon McEnzie, the author of Orbiting the Giant Hairball: A Corporate Fool’s Guide to Surviving with Grace, gives a picture for us artists. He was for 30 years employed as an artist for Hallmark corporation. He draws a line. Then covers 90% of it. The whole line is the creative process. The little bit left is what is visible to management.

My friends versus the best person

What this means, in reality, is we would rather see our friend who sings off key on the stage than invest in the new kid who could wow us and people outside of our clique. Remember the reason why the newsletter I made got crushed? The thinking is that we value the safe, known and “good enough” rather than the new and the best.

Nepotism sometimes can kill a ministry endeavor. I have been guilty myself of putting people in places because they became “friends” only to later find out they had an agenda. So, we are all capable of casting our friends and even family in roles that do not fit them or the team’s need rather because we fear the lose of relationship. Yes, people are capable of using relationships both ways. Beware.

Competence should not replace relationships and it does not mean friends or family should or cannot be promoted. It simply means we need competence. Its a “both and” not an “either or” issue. The focus is on the mission and the whole, not ourselves–our comfort, clique or position.

The practical way to deflate this risk is to be sure to create accountability structures as to why you put people on the team and make everyone, even your best friend, go through the process. We should not penalize people for being friends, but we should also be careful to not throw the team or church under the bus through cronyism.

Using the best people you can is a great idea. It’s called putting people where they are meant to be and it works. Serving in two church plants (brand new church startups) has taught me a lot about what can be done for a season. Yes, we all have to get things done, regardless, at times. However, why are we afraid of being “too good” in ministry?

Rich Kirkpatrick

Rich Kirkpatrick

Writer, Speaker, and Musician. Rich Kirkpatrick was recently rated #13 of the “Top 75 Religion Bloggers” by, having also received recognition by Worship Leader Magazine as “Editor’s Choice” for the “Best of the Best” of blogs in 2011, 2014, 2015 and 2016.


Leave a Reply