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One never outgrows one’s teachers. Teachers should be respected for the knowledge and life they have poured into us and for their willingness to share what they have learned. Norman Rockwell, in later years, lamented that he did not consider himself a good teacher because he insisted that his students paint just like him. He came to realize the significance of originality within an individual. We each have a unique fingerprint on this world. Like a musician that must spend countless hours on scales or the athlete that endures countless hours going over the same fundamentals again and again, there is a season in learning where we concentrate on imitating a teacher, and we can learn so much from their tremendous experience. Wise is the student who watches their teacher, pencil in hand and soaks in all they have to reveal to us. Wise is the teacher that understands the value of encouragement and picturing a positive future for their students. There are benefits to both sides of the relationship.

We do, however, at some point have to “find our own voice,” and as my own painting teacher, Jim Faber, would say “become your own best teacher.” We each have a unique role in the world, a special job given us by our Creator, a plan, a purpose and specialized pen stroke that cannot be duplicated by another. There is value in originality and finding one’s own voice. The masterful artists in the world may have learned their craft by imitation, but greatness came about when they blazed their own path.

Psalm 139 speaks of how God created us, knows us in every detail, sees ahead to each day we will inhabit planet earth, values us tremendously and loves us as an individual.

Do not shrink back from viewing the world a little different from everyone else. Your voice, your talent, your contribution is a gift that no other can make. And when you find it, share it with the world.

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