I remember my daddy saying, “I’m a jack-of-all-trades, but master of none.” I took that as ‘gospel’ and have said it for years, especially after failing to complete a home repair project and having to make that shame-filled call to the handyman. In Garden City, John Mark Comer says we use this saying to let ourselves off the hook for not being really good at one thing. In fact, he claims it’s a misquote of Benjamin Franklin, that he actually said, “jack-of-all-trades, master of one.” That’s a whole different message huh?
So, what’s the one thing you’re good at? Maybe you’ve been afraid to commit to one thing for fear you wouldn’t be good at it. Or not good enough. When you narrow your focus to that one thing, you get clarity. You know what to study . . . what to practice . . . who to ask to mentor you. Sure, you risk a lot. “What if I fail?” “What if I don’t have what it takes?” “If it doesn’t work out, then what do I do?”
Comer writes to millennials and he aims to prepare them for the ‘real world’ with these three truths, but they can apply to all of us . . .
- Your dreams will probably take longer than you’re expecting. Years if not decades of hard work. If it really takes 10,000 hours to get good at something, you can see why patience is a rarity among millennials who are often referred to as ‘tinkerers,’ trying one thing after another but never committing to anything for the long haul.
- Other people will do better than you. No matter how smart, hard-working, gifted or charismatic you are, there will always be somebody better than you. And social media will always make sure you know it. People curate the best parts of their lives and post them. The ‘highlight reel’ is all we’re allowed to see.
- If you ‘make it,’ it’s never quite as great as you hoped. Or if it is, the euphoric feeling of a dream come true is ephemeral, it doesn’t last very long. All glory (except the glory of God) is fleeting. If your motivation is ‘fifteen minutes of fame,’ be ready for extreme disappointment. The odds you’ll have it are small and even if you achieve it, it’ll be over before you know it.
I say find your one thing and focus. Bury the ‘jack of all trades’ excuse and focus on becoming a ‘master of one.’ As Zig Ziglar used to say, “Don’t become a wandering generality. Be a meaningful specific.”
Scripture: Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. (Colossians 3:23-24)
Mentor Tip: As we mentors grow older, it’s easy for us to melt into being generalists. We know a little bit about a lot of stuff. I encourage you to turn that around. Focus your energy on something you’re good at and go for it. Think through the 8 questions from the last post to make sure you aren’t wasting your life on something that doesn’t matter. But whatever you land on, go for it. Model what it looks like to “work at it with all your heart” for your guys. You’ll live longer and make a difference while you do.