No, it’s not a new Football term. My new blogosphere friend Jan Johnson and I have gotten to know each other via comments and posts and we had a brainstorm–why not ‘trade spots’ on a Thursday?
I’ll post something she wrote and she’ll post something I wrote and the world will be a little brighter because of it. (and you can find out why at Jan’s place: Joywriting: Everybody Has a Story.)

Janice C Johnson small.jpgJan and her husband have two grown sons and a daughter in law.  Jan likes to read a LOT and enjoys bicycling on the North Texas backroads near where she lives. ‘The most important thing you need to know about me is I have been following Jesus since my teens.’
Jan’s writing is full of humor–“Fortunately, I am prone to see the funny side of things.”  I would concur. (She told me she plans to write next week about an ‘appliance rebellion’ at her house.)
Jan has been blogging about faith, cycling and life’s little puzzlements for about two years.
I hope you enjoy her words here.

“Amateur: It’s Not an Insult” 

I’ll never forget the two sentences my music minister told us.
I was in a youth music rehearsal at my hometown church, and he was talking to us about two possible motivations for singing. Both sentences were short, only six words. In fact, they were both made up of the same six words. Only the order was slightly different. Guess which sentence illustrated the attitude he wanted us to have:
                                        “I have to sing a song”                                                  
                                      “I have a song to sing.”

The first is what the “professional” might say. The professional works hard, wants to get it right, feels obligated to get it right. But professionals may have a mercenary attitude toward their work. After all, they get paid. In return, people can expect them to do their thing whether they feel like it or not. They “have to sing a song.” Love for their art and their audience may or may not enter the picture. Either way, however, they work hard to continue improving their skills. “Professionalism” suggests excellence.

The second sentence better describes the heart of the “amateur.” From Latin and French, the word amateur means “one who loves.” The amateur works hard, wants to get it right for the joy of doing it well. I think it is unfortunate that in our culture, the word “amateur” usually suggests negative traits. The first one I think of is “not skilled enough to go pro.” If someone says a piece of work is “amateurish,” they usually mean it shows carelessness. The amateur may be just dabbling, may not have the discipline to work on their skills. Which is fine, as long as they “dabble” at a pastime and not at their life’s calling.
The vital thing is the attitude.

If you guessed that our leader encouraged us to “…have a song to sing,” you are absolutely right. A big smile crept over his face as he said, “I love amateurs.” He wanted us to be true amateurs  who work just as hard as the professional, without the profit motivation. Who delight in our art, love our audience… and have the ultimate spark of creativity: love for the Creator who gave us our art in the first place.

In musing about these things, I thought about my present work, writing. Do “I have to write a story,” or do “I have a story to write?” I’ve been on both sides. For three years I wrote magazine features professionally, often with the heart of an amateur, but occasionally just because it was my job. Right now I am working on my first novel. No one is making me do the work, study the craft, brave the critique group. I don’t have to write this story. I am doing all these things because I have a story to write.

Whatever work I do, whether I get paid or not, I want to bless others and please my Creator by doing it. If I am doing it for him, I will pursue my work with

                                      The excellence of a professional                             
                                                The ardor of an amateur.

As near as I can figure, that motivation will breathe life into any project I tackle. Even mundane things, like cleaning house and shopping for groceries, but that’s probably another post……
How about it — are you an amateur, too?


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