Your best effort


I have a confession to make: I am a low-key Taylor Swift fan.

I prefer the songs from her earlier albums when she was still making acoustic-driven country music. I don’t necessarily dislike her more recent offerings. I just haven’t really listened to them.

My first exposure to her music came as I was retrieving a rental van for a winter retreat. The radio in the van was set to a local country station. Within just a few minutes of turning on the van, two different Taylor Swift songs came on. If I remember correctly, they were “Tim McGraw” and “Our Song.”

Both songs are about young love. One focuses on the memory of a love that was lost, the other on love gained. I was so moved and impressed by these two songs that I drove that rental van straight to a local music store and bought her album.

When she began writing, Miss Swift was just a teenager in high school. All of her songs focused on the same subject matter. The aforementioned songs actually capture the content of most of her early albums.

Most of her songs are about the realities of young love. In many ways, her music and lyrics were very simple and predictable. Most of her songs follow a fairly common chord structure. It doesn’t take a lot of skill to play her music.

During her early years in the music industry and throughout her career, there have been those who have chosen to disparage her abilities as a singer, songwriter and musician, but she continues to work diligently to put out the best songs she can and to create the best product possible for the public.

As she herself noted in one of her hit songs, “Haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate. I’m just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, I shake it off, I shake it off.” Miss Swift communicates an attitude that many of us should adopt. She refuses to let those who don’t value her offerings determine the effort and energy she expends to be and do the best she can with what she has.

In my own life, I’ve been struggling with the reality that there will always be those who fail to appreciate who I am or what I have to offer. As much as I attempt to not allow what others think of me impact my actions, it does weigh heavy on my heart and mind when I know that someone dislikes or is displeased with me. It discourages and distracts me. At times, it causes me to question my calling and my capabilities.

One of the most difficult lessons in life is that not everybody will appreciate who we are or what we have to offer. Our efforts won’t always have the impact we hope for, and there will always be some who feel the need to inform us of our failure to meet their personal expectations.

As I was running the other day, I was thinking about this very issue and, quite frankly, I was feeling very low. A T-Swift song started playing, and a thought began to swirl in my head. The best you have to give will never be good enough for those who don’t value or desire what it is that you have to offer.

That doesn’t mean you should stop offering it, though. There are certainly moments where the quality of the work is at question. There are many more times where the issue is a difference of priorities and preferences.

We must be diligent not to allow the negative voices in our lives to dictate the direction and outcome of our efforts. If we offer less than our best or quit trying altogether, our actions begin to validate their opinions. We must press on and continue to strive to become and do all that God has created us for.

We have a moral obligation to do the best we can to produce all of the good we can as often as we can. James 4:17 says, “If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.” Sin isn’t simply doing what is wrong. It is failing to do what is good. As the saying goes, “We never truly fail until we fail to try.”

We must continue to offer our very best at every opportunity, knowing that though our efforts might not be appreciated by everybody, they will impact somebody. And the good we are able to do is always worth the best we can offer.

The Rev. Dr. Jeremy Myers is the lead pastor of First Baptist Church in Seymour. Read his blog at Send comments to awoods@aim

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