“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.” ~ Antoine de Saint-Exupery
This quote inspired me as a first-time pastor. I was given this insane job title, “Pastor of the Arts” (which I secretly think was both a random act of the higher-ups not knowing what else to do with me and a huge gift to me from the Universe!), I had no idea what I was supposed to be doing but I had a ton of fun dreaming it up. I didn’t want to teach art skills classes. I certainly did NOT want to be the Pastor of Hobbies and Crafts. That’s when I started doing art meditation…and teaching about theology in culture…and then I got this crazy idea to build a 12 foot by 28 foot model train layout.
That train project was amazingly fun. It was also a lot of work. I was proud of my ability to let go of the results and allow the community to build itself on the pleasures of creativity and collaboration. This quote became my mantra as I worked with various personalities, through various struggles and solutions, and over the several months it took to make this thing a reality.
Here’s what I learned: if you teach other people to long for the endless immensity of the sea, you have to let go of a few things. For example, you have to give over the design of the ship. You may even be left standing on the shore while all those people you inspired are out there sailing in their own boats.
It reminds me of another rather famous quote: “The true meaning of life is to plant trees under whose shade you do not expect to sit.” ~ Nelson Henderson
I want to plant some trees. Maybe I’ll find one someone else planted before me, so I can get a view of all those boats on the horizon.