I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to hit the reset button after the year we just had. If you’re reaching for that button in your life, then I want to share with you four things that will absolutely help you get rebooted, reset, and ready for what God has in store for your life and art in 2021.
You know, the Bible says that without a vision, the people perish. Unless you have a clear view of who God has called you to be, what He has called you to do, where He is leading you, and what He has for you this year, then you may end up very frustrated.
If you find yourself adrift in a sea of doubt, fear, and uncertainty, then I encourage you to go get with Jesus. Take some time away, a few hours or maybe even a couple of days, to get alone with the Lord. Ask Him to show you what He has for you this year in your life, family, art, and business.
The clarity you get will form the seed of a vision that you can cultivate in your life. And as you are faithful to nurture this vision, it begins to release clear direction for everything going on in your life. Vision speeds you down the road when things are good and keeps you on the road when things are bad. Why? Because vision informs everything in our life.
What you believe deep in your heart is as important as what you see for your future. When you cultivate God-centric Kingdom-focused beliefs in your heart, they inform and shape all of your thoughts and actions. Why? Because what you believe deep in your heart is the fruit of the thoughts and ideas you meditate and focus on day in and day out.
Your beliefs are the faith-colored glasses through which you embrace and engage the vision God has established for your life. Vision gives you the path to follow while illuminating the Kingdom-focused truths and concepts you should be cultivating in your heart and mind.
Vision, coupled with a well-cultivated belief, also serves as an early warning system against spiritual attacks. When the enemy comes and throws crazy pictures, thoughts, and lies in your mind, you have a strong foundation from which to say, “NO! This lie does not align with God’s vision for my life or look anything like what He is showing me.
Renew Your Mind
A couple of scriptures that I love are Romans 12:2 and Proverbs 23:7. Romans teaches us to be transformed by renewing our minds, while Proverbs tells us that as a man thinks in his heart, so is he. If vision informs your path and beliefs help you engage with God’s plan, thoughts fuel your beliefs. Godly Kingdom-Focused thoughts are great fuel for your godly beliefs, while ungodly, fear-driven lies and half-truths fuel ungodly beliefs.
The key to effectively renewing your mind can be summed up in three words:
If vision sets our path, belief helps us to engage with God’s plan, and thoughts fuel our journey of faith, then faithfulness is the oil that keeps things running smoothly. Faithfulness, simply put, is the practice of clearly executing every day the things you need to do as you grow into your calling as a thriving artist. Faithfulness for a creative could look like:
All this and more while learning to lean into His grace and not our strength, following God’s lead while avoiding the personal pitfall of striving. Faithfulness walked out over time leads to the “suddenlies” we all long to experience. Suddenly, as you’ve been faithful in the little things the Father has put into your hands, you “suddenly'' find yourself thriving in life, art, relationships, and maybe even business.
2021 is a year of great promise and great potential for creatives. This year we are all called to get serious about embracing vision, renewing our minds, cultivating godly beliefs, and faithfully walking out the plans God has for us. And as we do this in the context of a community of others doing the same, I promise you will have a reset and a reboot like no other.
I was recently reflecting on my own journey, especially as it relates to fear. For many years, fear was a significant motivating factor in my life. Fear of...
You get the picture. My life was being ruled by all of this misplaced fear-based anxiety. I was living my life based on the lies of the enemy and not the Truth of God. We have all dealt with this at some point, some of us more than others. You know those times when fear takes hold, and you start feeling absolutely overwhelmed, even to the point of a panic attack, just not knowing what to do.
One of the things I learned many years ago is THE KEY that God gave us in His Word that unlocks transformation in our lives. Romans 12:2 says, “Don’t be conformed to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” I learned that if I want to experience life differently, I have to learn to think differently.
I’m a firm believer in this concept of renewing my mind. I’ve been practicing it for years, intentionally cultivating God’s Truth in my heart for years. And despite all that, there are still sometimes things just come out of the blue. When I’m tired, mad, sad, hungry, upset, or frustrated, that’s when the enemy will come in like a flood to try to shut me down and overwhelm me.
It happened to me just the other day. I was having a pity party. I was really starting to get anxious about situations that are really unlikely ever to happen, the “What Ifs” of life. And as this went on for a bit, the enemy began to blow these stories up to IMAX size in my head. I was just getting bombarded with those fears of What If…
And as the fear continued to grow, it began to morph. If it did happen, does that mean that…
As these things raced through my mind, I leaned into the truths I’d been cultivating in my heart for years. Pulling from my daily practice of renewing my mind, I realized I needed to turn to the Lord and not even try to be strong. I just needed to fall into His lap and say, “JESUS, I NEED YOUR HELP!”
Now while this may seem an over simplistic solution, this simple act of trust broke something free in my life. Suddenly, instead of being in agreement with the fear, I began to agree with God’s truth…
As I did that, a beautiful thing happened. The Lord immediately went WHOOSH. It was like all of the fear, anxiety, and worry that was swirling around in my head just went, POOF, gone! It was like clouds starting to drift apart, and that’s when the Lord dropped this Scripture into my heart.
“When you sit enthroned under the shadow of Shaddai. You are hidden in the strength of God most high. He is the hope that holds me in the stronghold to shelter me. The only God for me and my great confidence. He will rescue you from every hidden trap of the enemy. He will protect you from false accusations in any deadly curse. His massive arms are wrapped around you protecting you.” Psalm 91 – The Passion Translation
And as I sat there, I realized that God had done it again. In my time of need, as I reached out to Him, He came in to dispel the enemy’s lies with the exact truth that I needed at that moment. My fear was getting caught in a “hidden trap,” something I didn’t see coming that would destroy the things I hold dear.
That was my fear, the source of the anxiety that was creeping up that day, and Psalm 91 was the exact passage the Lord gave me. I believe that the only time God is limited in our lives is when we are unwilling to invite Him into the situation. If you and I sit there and struggle in our life by ourselves, the Lord is standing there waiting to bring a solution, waiting to bring breakthrough, but He is waiting for you to extend the invitation. He is waiting for you to fling open the door. He is waiting on you to run into His arms
So my friend, listen! If fear is one thing that tries to come on you regularly, follow my example. When you find yourself in the middle of the fear, just fling yourself on Jesus! Turn up the worship music, lean into His arms, and say, “Father, I need You right now to come and break the power of the enemy.” I promise you. He will be faithful to show up and bring deliverance on your behalf and give you the tools you need to begin to renew your mind and walk in strength that is already yours in the Kingdom of God.
I hope this helps as you continue to create with Him. If so, take a moment to share it with a friend, share it on social media, and comment below!
Thanks for reading!
You know, if you love making art as much as I do, it’s really easy to wonder, “Hey! Is my love of art and creating art crowding out my passion for Jesus and my desire to worship Him? Is it becoming an idol in my life? I don’t know if you have ever thought about that, but recently Tina, one of our Podcast listeners, asked me that very question.
Fear By Any Other Name Is Just Fear
Sometimes the enemy will disguise himself as wisdom when it’s just plain old fear. When I hear a question like this, I find that it’s often rooted in a place of fear: Fear of messing up, fear of not doing it right, fear of disappointing God, and others.
It’s born out of a wrong mindset that is all too prevalent in the church and the Christian art community. This false idea that “Unless you do it exactly like this, or get exact permission to do this much but not that much, then you are somehow going to do it wrong.”
Bottom line, God isn’t like that. I really believe that God cares so much more THAT we create than WHAT we create, or even how much we create. I believe that it brings God joy when we do the thing that He has called us to do.
It is like the quote that I included in “Unlocking The Heart of the Artist” from Saint Irenaeus that says, “The Glory of God is man Fully alive.” That is, as you do the thing that God has called and created you, nothing else could bring greater glory or greater joy to the Father. So instead of a fear-based approach that is borne out of a faulty mindset, I want you to embrace this confident heartfelt belief in your art that says, “Yeah! When I do this thing, it is what God designed me for,” and that brings Him glory.
Art Is A Vehicle for Grace
If you are struggling with this question, then I want you to embrace the fact that art is a means of grace. It’s one way we can experience the grace, love, and manifest presence of God in our life. This grace is not only for ourselves but also for others as God uses our art to reveal and release His nature in and through us.
Always keep in mind that it’s God who created and called you to be an artist. It’s His artistic expression that He desires to bring to life through the talent and skill He gave you. The Father desires to bring you into this Spirit-led creative process, one that impacts and changes not only you but others as well.
Again, nothing brings Him greater glory than for you to be able to do the thing that He has called you to do. That, my friend, sounds like the exact opposite of idolatry.
Keep Your Eyes on The Creator, Not the Creations
For all of us who are believers, art should never be the entire focus of our lives. Art for art’s sake isn’t why you were endowed with your unique set of creative gifts and talents. Rather, art is a vehicle through which we experience the love of God, hear His voice, and allow His beauty, life, and life to flow through us to others.
When anything in life becomes an idol, three things come to mind:
If the thing you create and the artistic passions you pursue begin taking on a life of its own and separating you from God, then yes, that could be a problem. Anything that supplants your relationship with Jesus and His Lordship in your life absolutely can become an idol.
The secret to staying on the right path is to want to make sure that you see these beautiful things, these gifts that God gives us not as an end in themselves. Art, as I shared earlier, is a vehicle God uses to draw us close to Him. He uses it to transform our lives while He moves through us and the works of our hands to transform others. Art that accomplishes this is not an idol.
I hope this helps as you continue to create with Him. If so, take a moment to share it with a friend, share it on social media, and comment below!
Thanks for reading
Have you ever wondered how to tell when the Holy Spirit is guiding you and working with you in your art or when you are trying to do it all on your own? If this is you, you're not alone. This is a question I get a lot from artists all over the world. And today, I want to share with you a few things that I've learned over the years that have really helped me definitively answer this question for myself.
Religious Baggage – We All Have Some…
You know, a lot of us were raised with a fear-based relationship with the Lord. This is where the idea that you have to be "careful" because you don't want to "miss God" gets ingrained in your heart. While the desire for this sort of teaching is undoubtedly good, it often produces the opposite of what it is intended to do.
In my life, this mindset failed me completely. Instead of keeping on the straight and narrow, it took me totally off the path. I became paralyzed because I was so afraid of doing anything that might seem like my own flesh, anything that would not honor the Lord. I was just scared all the time, and because of that, I really was not moving forward in my life.
This kind of religious baggage paralyzes a lot of people in life. But over the years, the Lord began to help me realize some essential Kingdom truths. These truths helped me know the answer to the question, "Am I doing this with the Lord, or am I doing this on my own?"
You Were Designed for Co-Creating with God.
We all have to realize that God's pleasure and His desire are FOR you. God's design in your life was created specifically for you. In other words, there is a design, there is a pattern, there is a way of flowing that He designed for you. Not for anyone else, and He did this before the very foundation of the earth. When you got saved, the best part is that your Divine design got reactivated and reenergized in your life.
I love where the Bible says in Psalms that God inhabits the praises of His people. I love it because that is what art feels like to me. As we create in concert with the Holy Spirit, inviting Him into the creative process, God is faithful to His Word. As we do the things we were made to do with the One who created us, He comes, and He inhabits, leads, guides, and comforts us through that process.
You Have Everything You Need
It is crucial to realize that through what God has done for you through the cross, you already have everything you need for life and godliness as a Kingdom Artist. The real question is, "How do you participate or partake in all that God has already done for you? In II Peter 1:3-4, it says that we participate in the divine nature through the very precious promises of God. So, it is by faith, right?
It's by faith that we take hold of the promises of God and can appropriate all the things that God has for us. Well, the same thing is true with your art. You need to embrace the truth that every idea, every inspiration, and every skill comes from God. He has already equipped you with all of this, plus the desire and ability to flow with the Holy Spirit in your creative process. It's already there! It exists right now! Well, how do you access it? You access it by faith.
Try This the Next Time You Are In Your Studio
So the next time you go into your creative space, walk-in with a joyful heart saying: "Father, thank You that I have the opportunity today to come in and do the thing that You created me to do. Now, Lord, I receive by faith Your inspiration and the movement of Your Holy Spirit. Lord, I listen with the ears of my heart for Your voice. Lord, I respond with my hands, and God, I trust that You will lead and guide and move in and through me during this process. Use me, Lord. Transform me that my work might be used to transform others."
You see, I just find that when you can come in and create out of a place of JOY and not judgment, you can't do it wrong. When you approach the creative process from a place of judgment versus joy, fear rises up, anxiousness kicks in, and self-doubt rules the day. Judgment says, "I don't know if this is God! I don't know if I am doing it right! I don't know if I am going to miss it!"
Joy says, "I am a son. I am a daughter. I am already set up for success. God has already given me a design. There is no way I can do this wrong. God, You are FOR me. Holy Spirit, You are my guide, and You are the one that is here to lead me today." As you do that, it's like letting a drawbridge down into the spirit, receiving by faith everything that God has planned for you.
What the Fruit Says
Lastly, I want to share how you can recognize when the Spirit of God is moving in and through your creative process. Ask yourself the following:
Is there a sense of His presence as you are creating?
If you're answering yes if you're seeing the Fruits of the Spirit manifesting in your life and through your work. All of that confirms the movement of the Holy Spirit in your life as you create. So don't make it more complicated than it is. Enjoy the process.
I hope this helps as you continue to create with the Lord. If this article has helped, take a moment to share it with a friend, share it on social media, and comment below!
Thanks for reading.
One of the questions that I get from artists just about every day is, "Matt; I love Jesus! I know He is calling me to be a creative, but I am so scared! I am so nervous about what other people will think of me, what they will say about me, and how they will judge me. I constantly fear that others will find out that I'm simply not enough. How do I get over this?"
Well, this whole area of fear of what others think is significant in the creative community. In fact, I believe that it's really the foundation of every problem that artists go through. So, I think it's time we hit this issue head-on with some practical solutions that will help you bust through the prison of what other people think about you, your art, and your creative lifestyle.
Did I Miss Something?
For many years I struggled with this whole concept of identity. In fact, my first book, "Unlocking The Heart of The Artist," was really all about my struggle with identity and really coming to understand that you can be both saved and renewed. Let me explain.
I knew from a young age that my spirit had been renewed when I asked Jesus to come into my heart. But nobody had ever taught me that just because my spirit was instantly renewed that my soul, that is my heart, mind, will, emotions, needed to be renewed and aligned with the Kingdom of God.
Most Christians, in general, do not have this understanding that you were saved instantly, but you can be operating out of an old, wounded mentality, an old paradigm. You can be saved on one side and see all the promises of God that are in God's Word while still living out of an unrenewed mind. If you live out of this wounded paradigm, you will live a life in many respects more frustrating than the one you left before you were saved.
Why? Because even though you've got this great hope and vision for the eternal life Jesus provided for you while at the same time, you find yourself struggling daily within your emotions, thoughts, and actions. If you've ever felt this way, you're not weird. This is a normal part of every believer's walk. In fact, I was like that for most of my life until I began to understand how transformation is designed to happen in the Kingdom.
Well, how does that happen? Well, Romans 12:2 tells us that we are not to conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed, that is to be fundamentally changed, by the renewing of your mind. Many of us probably memorized this verse in Sunday School, and countless gold stars have been awarded for these efforts. But did anyone ever teach you how to apply it to your life practically?
Salvation happens the moment you ask Jesus into your heart. Your spirit man is instantly transformed, changed, and made righteous instantly. But even in that glorious moment, we still have a world of issues lingering inside our minds, wills, and emotions. Our spirit is saved, but that is just one part of the three, body, soul, and spirit that makes us who we are.
Our soul, that mind will and emotions part of us, still has to be renewed even after salvation. The Bible teaches us that this is a daily, moment-by-moment process that is meant to be led by the Holy Spirit according to the Word of God. It's an intentional daily process, this renewing of your mind, and it's as simple as starting with focusing on the truth of:
Consistency Brings the Change
And as you do this thing the Bible talks about, and you begin taking every thought captive under the Lordship of Jesus, your life WILL change. It's not an overnight change, but as you are faithful daily to focus on and believe in God's Truth versus what you have believed, a great exchange begins to take place in your spirit man.
It begins with declaring in faith, "Hey! I don't want to believe this old lie about myself anymore. I choose to receive the truth of God's Word about this for my life!" And as you do that over and over and over again as an act of your will, verbally, mentally, and spiritually replacing that old lie with God's Truth, change just happens. The old lies fade, and God's Truth in that area becomes your go-to daily mindset. Why is this important? Because it's your beliefs that ultimately determine your actions and your destiny.
I hope this helps as you take that step of creating or refining your website. If this article has helped, take a moment to share it with a friend, share it on social media, and comment below!
Thanks for reading.
Choosing someone to walk with you on your own artistic journey is probably one of the most important choices you'll make as an artist.
Why? Because who you choose determines what seeds you're going to plant in your life and ultimately, what fruit is going to be produced.
As you consider choosing an art mentor to help you on your journey as an artist, let me offer a few questions you need to ask:
Do you ever find yourself struggling, out of the blue, with anxiety, or jealousy, or insecurity? I know I do, and I’m going to share a few tips about how to work through it and find freedom from those debilitating thought patterns.
Just the other day, I was sitting with the Lord, doing things that I usually do in the mornings, when I got hit with a wave of fear, anxiety, jealousy, and insecurity. Now I know that some of you are thinking, “Matt, that happens to you?” Of course, it happens to me because it happens to all of us. But instead of letting these moments ruin my day, I begin to focus upon three truths I’ve learned over the years about this very human condition.
This Is Normal
You know, it is kind of a funny thing that I’ve learned over the years. As I felt this wave trying to overtake me, one part of me laughed as I thought, “Yeah! Here this comes again,” will at the same time, I couldn’t help but wonder, “This Again? Really? I mean, am I still dealing with that kind of stuff in my life?”
But then, I took a deep breath and settled into the truth that emotions and the emotional roller coaster are part of the human condition. Even though we all want to hide it, we all still have a flesh nature that is alive and well. And it’s that part of us that the enemy is always trying to take advantage of. That brings me to the second truth I want to share.
This Does Not Define Me
An emotionally trying day is not what defines you as an artist in God’s Kingdom. Being aware of your propensity to have, give into, and meditate upon thoughts like that, helps you realize when you’re having a momentary “flesh flash” or when it’s a symptom of a deeper issue that needs to be dealt with.
Look at it as an emotional hiccup, a reminder of our genuine need to renew our mind, and to connect the reality of God’s love for us in the person of Jesus. Any time the enemy hits you with overwhelming thoughts of fear, anxiety, jealousy, and insecurity, you have to realize that is an opportunity to take that thought captive and to say, “Now, is this true? Or is it not?” Then once you realize you’re dealing with yet another lie from the enemy you have the opportunity to embrace this third bit of wisdom.
Embrace God’s Truth
Once you realize that your current state of mind is being driven by a thought or idea that doesn’t line up with the Word of God, that’s when the real growth and transformation can begin. I know this may sound too simple, but it really works.
In moments like this, learn to throw yourself into the arms of Jesus. Embrace the truth that He is your hope and strength when you don’t have any strength. If the enemy is hitting you with fear about money or provision, then embrace the truth that He is your Provider. When you feel like you’ve lost your way, embrace the Lord as your Vision Giver.
If you’re feeling attacked or taken advantage of, always know that He is your Protector. If jealousy or the lie that you are somehow not enough is rearing its ugly head, then find peace in the fact that He is your Identity Giver. Find peace in the timeless truth that in Him, your place is absolutely secure.
Now you might wonder, “Why?” Because His love for us never changes! His Gifts to us are without repentance. The Holy Spirit and the Kingdom of God are living and active inside of us all the time! That’s the reality, that’s the truth, not those tangled webs of emotions lies, and fears the enemy slaps you with from time to time.
The Divine Exchange
So, if you can relate to what I’ve just shared, then I want to encourage you to intentionally make an exchange. Choose to trade-in those dominating thoughts, feelings, and fears for the truth of God’s promises to you. Then rehearse and reinforce those truths over and over and over again. You begin to embrace this practice as a lifestyle, then the things that have taken you captive – you will end up taking captive, giving them to the Lord in exchange for the newness and the freshness of His promises toward you.
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, share it on social media, and comment below!
Thanks for reading
Do you ever struggle with a lack of time and feel like you just can’t get everything done? Do you ever wonder how you are supposed to be the artist that God has called you to be, yet don’t seem to have enough hours in the day? Well, if that’s you, then keep reading because I’ve got some practical strategies for finding more time for the things that really matter.
One of the five roadblocks I’ve seen hold artists back over the years is this whole concept of overwhelm and the lack of time. You might be nodding your head right now, thinking, Matt, I know what you mean. A lot of artists struggle with this, but here is the thing that I have learned about overwhelm and lack of time. How you spend your time is simply a reflection of a few things in your life:
And all of this can be summed up into one word: Vision.
How you spend your time is directly related to vision. It’s the Bible that tells in Proverbs 29:18, “Where there is no vision, the people perish,” or as another version reads, “the people cast off restraint,” and one of my favorite translations says that without vision that “people run wild.” So how does all this relate to time and time management?
Vision from God about your life and art allows you to have a standard by which you choose how to use and prioritize your time. It helps you to know who you are and what you are called or meant to do in your life and with your art. Without that in place, then it's too easy to let circumstances and other people determine what your priorities are in life. Then before you know it, your time, your money, your energy, and your focus have been hijacked by someone else’s agenda.
I had to get to this place in my own life. The place where I fully embraced God’s call and plan for my life as a husband, a dad, an artist, and as a father to Artists. Understanding who God created me to be and knowing what He has called me to do guides how I choose to invest my time. This vision for my life helps me to prioritize what I say yes to and what I say no to in my day.
What’s Eating Up YOUR Day?
So, I am going to give you a little assignment that you can do right now to start taking control of your time. For the next seven days, grab your journal, a legal pad, or even a piece of paper and write down everything that you are doing in 15-minute increments. Now, I know that you are probably saying, “OMG! That is a lot of detail.” Yeah, it is, and that’s the point.
This time assessment is a commitment, but it’s really going to reveal where you are spending your time. Yes, I want you to include the random scrolling through Facebook or Instagram, the daydreaming, and anytime you spend unfocused. Be sure to include doing things for your family and friends, even the things you do out of guilt or obligation.
Time for YOUR Aha Moment
And then at the end of the week, what I want you to do is this: Go back through that assessment and look at the areas where you choose to spend your time. Ask yourself the following questions:
The point of this exercise is not to feel shame for what you didn’t do but to help you see what you can do. Most people who do this week-long time assessment end up having a complete light bulb moment of realization: “OOOohhhhh! My Goodness! I’ve wasted a whole lot of time on a whole bunch of nothing.” The important thing is to take that Aha moment and use it as a call to action.
Ask Yourself This
Once you’ve completed this exercise and find yourself staring in the depth of this Aha moment, this is what I want you to ask yourself. “What am I willing to give up or change in my life right now in order to live the life that I believe that God has designed me to live as an artist?” I know that it's a tough question, and not one to be answered lightly. But I’m also convinced that every artist who answers this question is ready to step into the fullness of what God has for them.
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, share on social media and comment below!
Thanks for reading.
One of my favorite passages of Scriptures is the Parable of the Talents found in Matthew 25. I think it's such a perfect picture of how growth in the Kingdom happens. And no matter how many times I meditate on this passage, I always walk away with a deeper understanding of these timeless truths.
Recently I was back in Matthew 25, enjoying my time with this “old friend” when the Lord highlighted a word for me that really rocked my world. What the Lord showed me in that one simple word was so profound, so simple, and so timely. The word that came alive to me that morning was this, "quickly."
Think back to the Parable of the Talents, you know, the one where Jesus is the Master of the field, and He gives talents, in this case literally money, to His servants that are there. To one guy, He gives five talents, to the next one He gives two, and the final servant gets a one talent investment. You probably know how this story ends for the servants. The five-talent guy brings back ten talents, the two-talent fellow brings back four, but the one talent servant buries his Master's investment out of fear only to reap the wrath that he was trying to avoid.
But let's focus on that first servant, the five-talent guy. The Scriptures teach us that upon receiving the investment from his Master, the five-talent fellow left quickly, immediately, or at once, depending upon the translation you are reading. This talented and trusted servant didn't waste time once he had his Master's marching orders; rather, he went quickly and doubled the investment entrusted to him.
He Directs Our Steps Not Our Standing Still
This fellow's reaction to his Master's voice is an excellent example of how we should react to the Lord's voice in our own lives. I genuinely believe that when you have an unction from the Lord, a leading rumble inside your spirit, or a desire that is welling up and drawing you into a particular area, the biggest thing, the most essential thing that you can do is to step out quickly.
I really believe that God directs our steps, not our standing still. Yes, I believe that we are to be still and know that He is God, that we are called to lay our desires before Him, and that we are to listen for His voice. But I also firmly believe that as we cultivate an intimate relationship with the Lord, that He uses our desires, our passions, and our dreams to ignite action in us so that we can respond to the move of the Spirit in the context of our design and step out into things that He has for us.
Don't Overthink It
Now, I can hear you say, "Well, Matt, what if it is not the Lord? What if I'm missing God? What if I am just wrong?" I get it. Nobody wants to run off full steam ahead only to find yourself barreling down the wrong track in life. But if you think back to that story from Matthew 25, the one-talent guy probably struggled with the same fears and self-doubts. His solution was to stay put, to wait for perfect conditions, and to play it safe. We all know how that worked out for him.
It's way too easy to overanalyze God's nudging in our lives. Fear of messing up, fear of missing God, or fear of it not working out can stop you dead in your tracks if you let it. But what I've learned over the years is this; if I get an idea, if I get a desire, if I get a passion from the Lord, I begin to move on that quickly. Why? Because as I do, I find that revelation gets released, my direction becomes clear, and Divine Appointments and connections start popping up.
Be Ready for A Course Correction
So you've quickly taken your first steps once God has spoken. You haven't overthought it, and you trust that God will be true to His Word and direct your steps along the way, and He does. Once I'm off the starting pad, that's when things start to get clear about the direction the Lord is leading me in. Sometimes the Lord will direct you to maintain your course. Sometimes He'll lead you to head off in a slightly different direction.
The thing you need to remember here is to stay connected to the Father, keep listening, and respond quickly when He does direct (or redirect) your steps along the way. I love it when this happens in my life. That's when all the doubt and fear starts to fade, and I become confident I'm on the right path in that season of life.
Always remember this: God's desire for you is that you walk in the Kingdom and prosper, even as your soul prospers. When you say yes and quickly respond to the desires and intuitions that God is putting on your heart, all of Heaven rallies around to support, uphold, and protect you.
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.
You know, everybody wants a clear, focused, no drama kind of life, but very few people know how to actually get that done. In this article, I’m going to share with you a “lost art” that has supercharged the focus in my life, something I like to call the Art of Subtraction.
Having been an artist and a business owner for over 25 years, I have participated in and learned from one of the biggest misconceptions that keeps creatives from genuinely thriving in every area of life. That misconception, or lie, is the idea that if a few great things in life are beneficial, then adding a whole bunch more to your plate must be the way to grow and succeed in life and art. If this mindset sounds way too familiar, then let me dismantle this falsehood and give you some insights on how to move forward.
As I was starting this thriving journey, I really wanted to have a clear, focused life. I wanted to avoid the drama-filled life and live a life that was pleasing to the Lord. Not knowing how to do this on my own, I dug in and started to read good books, take good classes, and seek out good ideas to help me grow in business and in life. And it WAS all good, and I was learning and growing, but before you know it, all this stuff started to pile up in my life. You see, my life became full of what I would say was GOOD stuff, but it really wasn’t full of the BEST stuff.
I find that this happens a lot in the lives of people who are experiencing success in their life. Maybe you have been on the road to thriving for a while now. Perhaps you are starting to experience some success in your life as an artist, and you just think, “WOW! That works.” So you head off, and you do more of that. That course works, so you add three more. That show works, so you do one every month. You keep adding and adding and adding. Before long, though, what happens is you end up with a bunch of GOOD stuff, but not the BEST stuff in life.
Know What You Are Called to Do in This Season of Life
For me, it began back in Atlanta on the floor, crying out to God after I felt like I hit bottom in my professional life. It was from that time of being real and honest with God that He pointed me towards my life’s calling. If you know a bit of my story from then until now, the Lord has had me on a wild journey. From pulling up our roots in Georgia and settling in Asheville, to launching a world-wide Artist Mentoring Program.
But several times during this journey, I’ve had to pull over in order to take stock of where I am in the journey towards fulfilling God’s plan for my life, my family, my art, and my business. I had to go back to that place of being real with God and ask Him to show me where I was on the “map” at that time. His answers always provided me with the context I needed to do what had to be done next.
Evaluate and Eliminate
I’ve actually been in this process for the last few years in my life and in my business. It’s a process of determining what the BEST things God has for me are, and what are just simply GOOD things. I’ve learned to evaluate each opportunity and open door by how it will potentially impede or expedite the things I’m called to do in this current season of life.
The really crazy thing is that yesterday’s best often ends up being today’s good. Things that were life-giving and fruit-bearing in previous seasons of life are now just GOOD things keeping me from the BEST that God has for me today.
Recently for me, yesterday’s best was teaching basketry classes. I did this for years, and it was a great source of income for me when I was starting my art business in Asheville. But as the Lord began to move me more towards mentoring other artists, this formerly great thing, teaching classes, morphed into something that ultimately needed to be eliminated.
Say No to the Good and Yes to the Best
This concept is the heart of the Art of Subtraction. Begin by taking a look at all the things you are currently doing in your life, business, and art. Then ask yourself the following questions about each of these things:
So listen, I don’t know where you are right now in life, or if this is even resonating with you at all, but if it is, I want to encourage you to go for it. Take some time with the Lord. Take a hard look at everything that you are doing in your life, in your business, and your art. Ask yourself the hard question, “Is this producing the fruit that I want, or is it not?” If it is not, then ask yourself, “What is producing fruit?” Then take the bold step to double-down on the things in your life that are actually producing the fruit and momentum in your life, your art, and your business.
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.