Be an amateur

Be an amateur

Be an amateur

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Written by Lise Caldwell



I’m not a professional anything. Not really.

OK. That’s not entirely true. Occasionally I do work and get paid for it, which is definitely appreciated, especially by my husband, who quickly informs me that the money I make will help pay our income taxes.

Which is twisted, if you think about it.

But mostly, I do what I do for the love of doing it.

Which makes me an amateur.

See, we tend to think of “amateur” as pejorative. We use it to dismiss failed attempts, half-hearted efforts, and unprofessional behavior.

But “amateur” actually comes from a French word meaning “lover of.” Originally it was used to describe people who pursued an interest out of disinterested love–not desire for monetary gain.

So I’m trying to embrace my amateur status.

I’m an amateur (home-educating) teacher. I don’t always know what I’m doing, and the breadth of our topics sometimes leaves me dizzy. This week we’ve covered (among other things) Aristotle, the Cumberland Gap, the Kuiper belt (with heated debates on how to pronounce it), polynomials, amino acids, writing business letters, and what the word for “snack” is in Spanish. (Note: It is not “vino,” the answer my younger son wrote on his Spanish test. And no, we do not serve “vino” as a snack in our house.)

I’m not a professional at this job. But I am a lover of it.

I’m an amateur minister. I don’t have a paid staff position, but I do take seriously the responsibility of caring for people around me, and loving them in the name of Jesus. When given the opportunity, I lead small groups, teach Bible studies, disciple younger women, write dramas, plan services and counsel people in trouble.

I’m not a professional at this job. But I am a lover of it.

I’m an amateur actor. I seek to pretend, explore, connect, inspire, and amuse as a character on a stage. I love to polish, hone, stretch and shape my abilities.

I am not a professional at this job. But I am a lover of it.

I’m an amateur taxi driver. An amateur cook. An amateur lyricist, an amateur gardener, an amateur singer. I am an amateur blogger.

Years ago I abandoned the professional world. I’ve flirted with it–briefly and episodically–but I’ve not had the opportunities to develop and pursue my more lucrative talents in the way that I might. I recognize this loss, and some days sense it keenly. Those who work full time in any art or industry engage in their field with a depth of focus I cannot hope to achieve.

But a paycheck sometimes has a way of destroying love. When the alarm goes off, when the customer complains, when the meetings never end, love atrophies. Shrivels. Fades.

And even professionals need to be lovers, too.

Don’t be afraid to be an amateur. Find what you love and pursue it. What you lack in time and expertise, you might just make up in passion.

Don’t be ashamed of being an amateur. A friend recently apologetically described herself as an amateur writer. Why should we apologize for loving something? For pursuing it? Especially when there is nothing to be gained but the beloved itself?

What kind of lover are you? What are the things your heart draws you toward? What do you want to do despite the fact that it will never increase your bank balance or earn you a raise?

Find something you love and spend time doing it. Be a lover of it, and delight in that love.

Be an amateur.

This blog was previously published at Surrendered Expectations. It is published on with permission from the author.


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