Christian artists around the world really struggle with this idea. We all want to honor the Lord with the creative gifts and talents He’s given us, but how do we do that if our creative pursuits seem better suited to the marketplace than the sanctuary.
I’ve struggled with this myself, especially as an artist and a believer that primarily creates woven sculpture. No one has ever looked at my work and asked me, “Matt, are you creating Christian baskets?” (We’ll somebody did once, but that made for a really awkward conversation.)
On the one hand, it’s kind of great not to have that pressure, but on the other hand, it has made me wonder from time to time if my pieces are having any impact in the Kingdom or the spiritual lives of my clients.
And I know if I’ve struggled with this concept, then those of us whose works employ narratives, story, music, or imagery can oftentimes struggle with this even more. If that’s you, then let me encourage you with this:
God cares more THAT you create than WHAT you create.
Now, what does that mean?
Well, for me, that means it is more vital for me as an artist to recognize and embrace the unique design God has on my life. Once I accepted this, then I was able to faithfully fulfill that design to the best of my ability using the gifts, talents, and skills He has given me. The same can be true for you as well.
It’s the same principle Paul shares in Colossians 3:23, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as though you were working for the Lord and not for people.” This advice given to Christian servants working in Roman households didn’t just apply to work that was overtly spiritual in nature.
It’s hard to make washing dishes or cleaning toilets seem Holy. Yet Paul’s admonition was EVERYTHING done using one’s full measure of skill and talent without reservation, without holding back, is, in fact, honoring to God in a way that advances the Kingdom. Chew on that for a minute. Now here’s how you can bring this principle to life in your creative practice.
Get Creative with God in the Studio
Get in your studio, invite the Holy Spirit into that space and begin to cultivate an atmosphere of His presence. Once you are in that place with the Lord, unleash your creativity and do the thing that is on your heart to do. Write, Sculpt, Paint, Mold, or Shape with wild abandon, creating art for an audience of One without fear of how others will view or judge your work out in the world.
Don’t just do this once and decide it’s not for you, instead make this a regular part of your creative life. You’ll quickly find that the pieces that honor the Lord are often the very ones that speak to the depths of your soul as a creative.
The finished work may be overtly spiritual, or it might just be beautiful with no other agenda. No matter the subject matter of your finished pieces, always remember that when you begin to fulfill God’s plans and purposes in your life, your art will have a profound impact on others.
Be Being Filled and Skilled:
Always remember your job as an artist is to be the best artist that you can be. I’ve encouraged tens of thousands of artists from around the world to embrace the concept of being both filled and skilled.
By being continually filled with the power of God’s Light, Life, and His Presence in your life, you literally cultivate an atmosphere in your studio that invites the Power of Heaven into everything you do creatively.
At the same time, you must be a good steward of the skills God has given you. Learn from masters in your field, enlarge your creative capacities, hone your skills. Wholeheartedly dive into your creative process and rise to be everything God has called you to be as an artist.
The Results are up to God
Now before you start getting worried or fixated on the impact your creative efforts may or may not have in the lives of others, always keep this in mind: the results are up to God.
It’s too easy to start thinking transactionally in terms of the impact we want our artistic creations to have in the lives of others. “I’ll paint this so that she feels...” or “I’ll write this song that he will…” You get the picture. The Kingdom doesn’t work that way and approaching your art in that way borders on manipulation.
But once you embrace the fullness of who God has created you to be and begin following His plans for your life and art, that’s when your art (and your life) becomes impactful in the Kingdom.
It’s when you choose to live and embrace an abundant life of joy, beauty, peace, creativity, and love that your life and your art begin to prophesy the truths of the Kingdom of God to the world. As you do this, God is free to use everything you do and create to profoundly impact the world in ways that are far beyond anything you could have imagined or engineered on your own.
I hope this has been a big encouragement to you. If this article has been a blessing to you, take a moment to share it with a friend.
Thanks for reading!
Matt Tommey is an artist, author and mentor who is passionate about empowering artists to thrive spiritually, artistically and in business.