How to Be a Fearless Artist
One of the ultimate questions we want answered as artists and creative professionals is this: how to be a fearless artist. We know risk-taking is critical to the success of our creative process. And if you went to college for your genre of art- you were no doubt pushed to deal with or overcome many fears related to your art making. You were pushed to be a risk-taker, to break boundaries, to be cutting edge and keep growing as an artist.
So the questions for you now, in this new year, are:
How’s that working for you?
Do you still take risks?
Are you pushing yourself?
Are you breaking boundaries?
Maybe last year was a smashing success and you need to do more of the same. Maybe last year was horrible, and a major pivot is in order. Maybe it was a mixed bag of good and bad for you, your career and spiritual life.
Regardless of how last year was for you— Take time this year for a fresh start. A new beginning. A clean slate to evaluate where you are both artistically and spiritually. You need to stop and evaluate, once in a while, and the new year is a great time to do it. Hence the idea of new year’s resolutions and goals.
Now if you want to create goals and resolutions that’s awesome- go for it. But first, be honest and wrestle with your fears. We all have them. From fears related to our careers and success, to fears and worries in our spiritual life.
And guess what? You have to deal with them in order to be effective and successful this year. So since we want you to have an incredible 2021, listen up and walk with us through this little guide to overcome your fears and worries so you can be a successful and fearless artist in 2021.
7 Ways to Be a Fearless Artist
#1: Identify the Lies and Ditch the World’s Advice
There are a thousand lies about how to overcome fear. The world’s advice seems helpful, until we realize we are not getting better and we recognize it is empty and hollow. We hear these ideas so often, we are tempted to buy into the idea we just need to be “true to ourselves.” We forget how fickle the heart is, and how untrustworthy it can be. As artists and creative professionals, we need something deeper, long-lasting and transformational. We need the gospel. We need to deeply know who God is and why that matters so much to our creative careers, our art making, and our calling as artists.
The first step we must take is to acknowledge the lies and false narratives about what we believe. Confess them to God in prayer. Read God’s word and meditate on who you really are in Christ. As artists who are Christians, we have ALL the tools we need to find joy and hope as artists and creatives. We don’t have to be ruled by fear or worry. The great and wonderful God of ALL THINGS is on our side- loving us, providing for us, caring for us- emotionally, spiritually, physically, mentally. Are you in touch with that? Do you realize that’s true? Do you believe that?
We encourage you to read Isaiah chapter 40 and use your creative gifts to imagine in great detail the descriptions of God – his size, his power, his worth and his immensity. Meditate, and engage the awesomeness and wonder of God’s extreme power and majesty. So many times, we forget the greatness of our God and we reduce Him to nothing in our lives. We often live like practical atheists, living as if God is not active in our lives or has any power to influence our day-to-day challenges. So, this year look for His hand on your work, your business and your relationships. Look for how he is leading you, guiding you, directing you. He is present, He is involved, He is there for you. You are not alone.
#2: Fight Fear with Fear
The true way to fight your fears is with fear. This sounds like doublespeak but hear us out. The way to overcome fear of man, fear of the critics, or any other fear is to fear the Lord. Paul Tripp puts it this way, “Only vertical fear will conquer our horizontal fears.” It is not a doctrine we hear about much in our culture, but it is the powerful antidote we need. Consider these words from Psalm 112:
“Praise the Lord, Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who greatly delights in his commandments.”
Finding our anchor in life, is an experience that comes to the man or woman who fears the Lord. I don’t mean fear in the sense that they are worried that he isn’t good or doesn’t love them. I mean the kind of fear that is in awe of God and recognizes how powerful, holy, and good God is. In that moment of awe, our perspective changes. It is like a man who believes he is strong until he stands before a roaring tiger. All of the sudden, he is humbled and more honest about his abilities.
When we behold God as he is, we are humbled and reminded that life is not about us, but about God. He is writing the story of our lives, and of all eternity. When we grasp this truth, the pressure lifts from our shoulders and rests upon Gods. This is what Jesus tells us when he says, “my yoke is light.” He carries the burden.
When we learn this, we are not obsessed with ourselves, and therefore are not captivated or paralyzed by fears that are anchored in self-awareness. Critics and fans are powerless to crush our heart when our heart is anchored in the God who loves us and has a wonderful plan for us.
If you take a moment to think about it, you know intuitively that life is not about you. There is something at work greater than you and me. Our friends who are part of AA, Celebrate Recovery and other 12-step groups, know this in a profound way. They must acknowledge a higher power greater (God) if there is any hope to overcome their weaknesses and addiction. The strength and fearlessness to overcome their current struggle requires this transformation. Without trusting in God, there is no getting beyond the very selfish foolishness our culture is selling.
#3: Face the Fire with God at Your Side
Four men standing in a fire. That is the picture every child remembers when they hear the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. The book of Daniel tells the awe-inspiring story. These men were warned if they did not worship Nebuchadnezzar, they would be thrown into the fiery furnace. Any woman, man or child focused on their own ability to survive would be terrified and paralyzed with fear. The problem, for Nebuchadnezzar, was not that these three men did not have fear. They had fear. The problem for Nebuchadnezzar was that they did not fear him. They feared the Lord Almighty. They fought the fear of earthly power with the fear of the ultimate spiritual power. They would not betray their God, and cave into the fear of man.
The miraculous ending is found when Jesus appears with them in the fire. Though they thought they were alone, they never were. God was with them in the fire, protecting them. Remember these words from Psalm 27:1:
“The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?”
#4: Anchor Your Identity
To be strong and live with deep passion as an artist or creative professional, requires anchoring that passion in what God is doing. When we trust in God, we have an anchor that will hold, and a foundation that cannot be moved.
The key question is this: Where is your identity? Is your sense of self-worth anchored in your talent, your resume, your ethnicity or your education? None of those will give you the confidence of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. Your identity must be anchored in your relationship with God. It is his laws that control the universe. It is His commandments that teach us how to live right, and it is His love that will never let go of us. All too often, we run and cower because we forget our identity as his children.
#5: Ask Your Heart Better Questions
What happens to your heart when trouble comes? Where does your mind run, and where does your heart go when finances are drained, when the critics disparage you, your art and your fears grow? If you want to grow spiritually, take the time to diagnose the path your heart takes. Then begin to take the antidote – confess how much you depend upon your own abilities. Confess how much you rely on your own plans. Confess how little time you take to consider what God is doing, and what God is about in this season of your life.
Our culture is loaded with self-help books and resources encouraging you to plod ahead without understanding your heart, but God cares deeply about your heart. He longs to heal your wounds and make you whole. We need to reorient our hearts to seek and glorify God, not just a great career or great reviews.
#6: Love Casts out Fear
Jesus was fearless – before the politicians, before the religious hypocrites, before the critics and the crowds. Jesus himself spoke of doing only His Father’s will. He didn’t trust the crowds and he was not afraid of what they thought.
John 2:23-25 reminds us:
“Now when he [Jesus] was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many believed in his name when they saw the signs that he was doing. But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man.”
Jesus knew the crowd came for the ‘show’, and the signs he was doing (verse 23). They were fans, enjoying the show, not disciples counting the cost. He knew they would scatter as soon as he was betrayed by Judas. Jesus was not ‘entrusting himself to them’. He was focused on loving people rather than appeasing or gaining approval of people. Their approval did not lift his spirit, and their disapproval did not crush his spirit.
John tells us in 1 John that, “Perfect love casts out fear.” It is the perfect love of our Savior, our Father in Heaven and the Holy Spirit that finally destroys the hold fear can have on us. When we begin to love God with our whole heart, and love our neighbor as our self, fear washes away.
Christ knows your temptations.
He knows the heart-breaking reality of life.
He knows the fickle nature of the fans and the crowds.
He knows the temptation to fear so much in life.
Yet He loves you and invites you to live a different way. He invites us to learn to love as Jesus loves, to fear God instead of man, and thereby find greater joy in our art, our work and our relationships.
#7: Develop a Deep Community
Loneliness can be a killer – a killer of creativity, relationships, faith and so much more. We were not meant to be alone. We were created as dependent beings. Dependent on God and dependent on one another. We were built to encourage and spur each other on toward creative, intellectual and spiritual growth. We need to be reminded of our identity in Christ, our calling and talent when we struggle with fear.
Community is a ‘means of grace’, which God provided for each one of us here on earth. It is a gift we dare not ignore. If you aren’t connected to a community of artists and creatives committed to the gospel, to excellence in their art and support of fellow artists, you need to be!
And guess what? You are invited to join our group- if you haven’t signed up for our weekly newsletter- do it- join our community here at AEM. We have monthly artist forums where we discuss the issues you are facing today and you will experience an awesome community of encouragement!
God has not given you a spirit of fear, but a spirit of love. When we experience fear, we know we have wandered away from the Father’s side and from his love. No matter the opportunities we face, no matter the risks we must take, God is with us. The question is simple- are we trusting in God, and is our motivation to love others?
Take the time to search your heart. Where you have failed, remember that you are not condemned. Find forgiveness at Jesus’ feet, as you repent and confess. Then, as you experience his forgiveness, you will also experience the grace, hope and joy he died to give you. Then ask God, who gives freely, to give you the strength and humility to live, create and work fearlessly. It is His plan for you!
Copyright © 2021 Joel & Michelle Pelsue. All Rights Reserved. Used with Permission.
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