Lies Artists Believe: Age
One of the lies artists believe today is, “If only I was the right age, then I would be successful.” Surprisingly this can go both directions. Some people wish they had started younger and think if they were just younger and cooler, they would be embraced and get the gigs they are striving for. Others feel like they don’t have enough experience and knowledge to get the respect they need to be offered the bigger opportunities they are seeking.
Insecurity and Age
Whatever your age, there is a temptation to second guess everything about you and your art. We all feel a little tug in our thoughts and hear those little voices that awaken our insecurities. Age has become one of the triggers that can feel so overwhelming precisely because you cannot change your age. Sure, you can omit the year on your Facebook birthday information. You can stay fit, color your hair and dress hip. But you cannot alter your true age.
Driven to Extremes
Here in Los Angeles the culture worships youth. People will go to great lengths to look younger, more hip and cool. This is especially true of those in front of the camera or on stage, though it is found throughout the city and the creative industries here. I know music producers, editors and writers who have dyed their hair and dress more youthfully because it helps them get the contracts and the gigs. The mindset is if you are not young and hip you won’t be able to help the project attract the coveted teenager and early 20’s demographic. Naturally this is because that is the demographic that spends the most on music, movies, new technology and the latest fashion accessories.
When we lived in New York there was a sense that you weren’t really given respect or treated as an adult until you were 40. It was puzzling at first, but so many people couldn’t afford to buy a house (due to the high prices), and they felt they couldn’t get married and establish their own identity until much later in life. Getting respect as a 30-year-old could be challenging in New York, whereas a 30-year-old in Los Angeles is in danger of starting to become too old.
Legitimate Critique or Not?
Whether you live in a major city or a small town you will find people who judge you based on your age. Sometimes there is a legitimate issue. Maybe you need more training, or experience. Maybe you are simply too old to play a teenager in a hit movie. There are times where age is a true limiter. On the other hand, there will be times when people judge you based on your age and it is preposterous. Great paintings come from old and young people. Incredible acting comes from old and young people. Amazing video games are created by the young and the old. And so on.
God’s View of Youth
David was only around 15 years old when he fought Goliath. King Saul, who was anointed by God, judged David as being too small and too young to fight Goliath. And yet, David was successful and provided us with one of the most famous stories in history. What can we derive from that passage? God will use the woman or man he wants to use, when he wants to use them.
The Bible does not despise youth. There is great passion, excitement and drive that often wanes over the years. The young possess a strength that is needed for particular projects. Unlike our contemporary culture, the Bible designated men and women as adults rather young. I am always reminded of this when our friends children have a Bat/Bar Mitzvah.
There is a biblical tradition of offering respect to people at a young age, and calling them into maturity with great expectation. We long to see them grow into all that God has called them to be. In the New Testament we see the apostle Paul address this issue personally and pastorally.
He sees how Timothy is timid and insecure about his youthfulness. Timothy was probably a bit intimidated by Paul’s knowledge, insight and persuasive skills in writing and speaking. He was tempted to discount himself. Paul saw this and said,
“Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.”
– 1 Timothy 4:12
If you are young, let those words sink into your heart! Don’t listen to the voices that say your youth disqualifies you. listen to the words of your heavenly father who is calling you to step up to the opportunities before you and and step out in faith. Your youthfulness is never a barrier in God’s eyes. If you need knowledge, pursue it. If you need experience, work hard at it. But let not your age dishearten you.
God’s View of Growing Older
God is not limited by your years under the sun. Moses was 80 years old when God spoke to him through a burning bush and called him to confront Pharaoh. Abraham was 100 years old when he saw the hope and promise of having his sons Ishmael and Isaac. Maybe more astonishing was the fact that Sarah was 90 years old, and her womb had to be miraculously healed and made to give birth.
The Bible encourages us as we get older to see the signs of old age – grey hair, laugh lines, and everything – as a sign of wisdom.
“Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity.”
– 1st Timothy 5:1-2
“Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained in a righteous life.”
– Proverbs 16:33
Success can be found at any age. We often hear of the ones who succeed at an early age, but forget people like Katherine Bigelow who started directing at age 57, Laura Ingalls Wilder published her first novel at 65, Ang lee who started directing in his 40’s. And yet, with the advance of modern medicine we are all living longer so the opportunities will keep arriving.
Never Stop Creating
Realize now, there is never a sunset on your career or creativity. There will be seasons, but not a sunset. Each new phase in life has new opportunities and new limitations. It is simply part of life. Recognize them and find creativity within them. Even in heaven, there will be a place for art and your creativity.
You will always be faced with people and communities that say you are too young, or you are too old. You may need to pivot, or ignore their advice depending on the circumstances. Yet, know this: The Bible recognizes the value in both our youth, and our old age. You are precious to him in every stage of life.
“The glory of young men is their strength, but the splendor of old men is their gray hair.” – Proverbs 20:29
The media industry and the art world are tough no matter who you are. You will find failure to be a constant reminder of your need to grow and adapt. Don’t take the rejection to the core of your identity or you will be paralyzed. Always remind your heart and soul that God is the one who determines your value, and he loves you during each season of your life. He gave us these seasons to grow and to learn how to love well, create with deep understanding, and to grow in our relationship with him.
If you really want to improve your skills at marketing and selling your work/projects, this program is designed for you. My wife teaches the Catalyst Online Course, and we have found that every artist needs to fine tune their business and entrepreneurial skills. This includes capitalizing on Social Media, YouTube, and the networking events in your industry.
Markets are changing, and if we do not adapt to them we will be missing out on wonderful opportunities – musicians can sell music online for video productions, visual artists can market their works online directly to homes all over the world, and writers can self-publish their own works and skip the middle man.
The time to adapt is now. Don’t make excuses. Make progress. Don’t accept the lie that you are held back by your age. Move forward in confidence, capitalizing on what you have access to. If you really need help in this area, check out our Catalyst Online Course designed for artists to develop their skill as entrepreneurs.
If you are wondering about God’s calling for you during this season of life you may want to check out our Free Calling MasterClass. We also have some empowering and inspiring blogs on the artist’s calling as well HERE
Copyright © 2020 Joel & Michelle Pelsue. All Rights Reserved. Used with Permission.