Dabbling or Specializing?

paint-in-jarsOne thing that I feel more acutely as I get older is my constant need to come back to the Source of Life to be refueled. No longer can I rely on adrenaline or youthful energy. My batteries frequently need not only recharging but redirecting.

Questions about how to invest my time take on added importance when I realize I have fewer peak hours in a day, less years left on this planet. In order to know I’m making wise choices, I need to seek the mind of Wisdom himself.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6

Take this graduate writing writingprogram. I loved my first five-week course. I enthusiastically agreed with the little engine. “I think I can!”  Already, I’m filled with doubts, and I’m not sure if the doubts are good or bad. Was coming back from our vacation so worn down a sign to back off or an obstacle to overcome?

I don’t think I ever excelled at any one thing; instead I’m pretty good with a bunch of things. If I’d devoted myself fully, I might’ve been a really good piano player or a somewhat good artist, but I just learned a little and then stopped. Life got too busy to keep it up and my priorities changed. The same with writing. Yes, I’ve written a book, but since I added my new job and ministry with students to my schedule (at a time when most people my age are in bed), I have to struggle to even keep up this blog and occasional newspaper articles. Now I have an opportunity to begin to specialize in writing, and I don’t know if that will limit me.

pianistsOne class at a time, decision by decision, I’ll try to continually seek the Lord’s guidance. Is this what you want me to be involved in? Is this the right use of my time? Do the good things (creative stimulation and future benefit) outweigh the bad?

The biggest cost seems to be in adding more to my schedule (which means some other area loses out). The quantity of my time with Steve will decrease, but can we intentionally make it more quality? Do I take time from rest and whatever gives back to me; do I say enough is enough and walk away; or can I find some middle ground?

Another question I’m left with is whether I should just accept that dabbling is who I am and leave it at that. One of the reasons I never committed to excelling in any one area is that I’m interested in so many. Someone once called me a Renaissance Woman and I liked that. I don’t want writing to crowd out my pursuit of music or art or decorating or gardening. And definitely not my pursuit of the Holy One or time with his people. I’m baffled by colleagues who can’t think of how to spend vacation days, or worse, come back to work post-retirement because they don’t have anything to do.

The world is out there and life is full. I want to do it all. See it all. Maybe specializing just isn’t what I was created for. Is it OK to dabble? How do you decide?

2 thoughts on “Dabbling or Specializing?

  1. Fran

    Oh, Taryn I do so identify with you!! Some days I feel like I can conquer the world! Others it’s a struggle just to get up. Not literally, but I too am all over the map, putting my thumb in each allegorical dike, keeping all the things going.
    Thank goodness I have moved into a condo where I am not able to have a garden of flowers, just some window boxes and potted plants…and so wonderful that we have had so much rain that I have not had to see my flowers wither and die because I am too busy to water them!
    Ahem!…but this is not about me.
    How to figure out what to do…dabble or specialize?
    So I cannot pretend to know the answer. I sense that it is different for each of us. But I think that once decided, your writing for example, it would seem best to follow through.
    If a task is difficult, so what? If it were not everyone would be doing it and the value would be diminished. We learn so much from adversity, as your book so beautifully depicts.
    For perspective, I will share what was a magazine article, what we now would call a blog. Someone I deeply respect is the Reverend Billy Graham. This is what he had to say on the subject: “The Bible reminds us that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful, and true biblical faithfulness is more than just showing up for work as Christians and performing our required duties.” http://www.billygraham.org/articlepage.asp?articleid=1003
    I too enjoy a lot of things. But I guess the real question is “What has God called me to do? What has he asked me to accomplish?”
    If I can answer that question, and I am not sure I can, I can know without a doubt the answer to your question.
    How do I decide? I think I know the answer; I just don’t always listen.

    1. Taryn Hutchison Post author

      Fran, What a beautiful response. And so on target. Yes, the real question is “What has God called me to do?” I find that I have to keep asking Him that. What He wants me to concentrate on one year may change the next. I can only begin to think I may know the answer when I’m so intune to the Holy Spirit’s leading that I can hear that soft whisper behind me, saying “This is the way.” It’s a matter of daily surrendering my agenda for His.


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