Lies Artists Believe: Worthiness
One of the devastating lies artists believe is the lie of unworthiness. Many artists feel unworthy to pursue serious success. Many feel unworthy to spend time and money on their creative life. Sound familiar? Are these struggles you or your colleagues face?
If you don’t anchor your worthiness in the nature of God, and his perspective on art, you’ll never crush this sense of being unworthy. It doesn’t matter if you are a fine artist, a musician, or a professional creative. The truth is that everyone has doubts, and it happens in any career. The greater challenge exists for artists and creatives because we have all heard so many negative stories of starving artists. But it doesn’t have to be that way. There are so many new ways to make money from your art, and to find your audience without navigating the usual channels.
Two Challenges You Are Facing
The first challenge you are facing is your own spiritual sense of worth and value as a child of God. If you do not really understand how much God loves you, you will continue to struggle with this. You cannot find your self worth in your work, your art, your status, or your relationships. All of those will fail you and become idols if they rise to the level of becoming the most important thing in your life.
The only way to find true stability you can trust in, is to embrace your identity as a child of God. God’s word tells us that we are sons and daughters who are loved so much that we have been adopted into the family of God. Don’t compare yourself to others in this regard. Most of us have to remind ourselves on a regular basis that the God of the universe loves us so much that he died for you and I. Even the reformer Martin Luther wrote of how he had to preach the good news of God’s love to his heart every morning.
The simple truth is this- God knows all your struggles, your habits, your thoughts and misgivings, and he still loves you. He loves you as you are now, and loves you enough to ensure you will grow to become more loving, more gracious, and more Christlike. Once you have embraced this truth about God’s love for you, repented of your sins, and received his forgiveness and grace, you can begin to deal with the second challenge.
The second challenge is facing your worth as an artist. Once your identity in Christ is solid, the other questions become clearer: How do you view art as a career? How do your family and friends view your art or the industry you want to be a part of? These are the questions you need to ask yourself and take time to write down. These are the voices you hear in your mind and they need solid answers in order to silence your fears, anxiety and sense of unworthiness. If there are other thoughts and ideas that hold you back, write those down as well. Ask yourself if they are legitimate or not.
Here are some of the top reasons artists and creatives feel unworthy:
• You don’t believe Art is a precious gift of God.
• You don’t believe God cares about art, so you feel deep down like it is a waste of time.
• You don’t believe God cares about YOU AS AN ARTIST and YOUR ART. You take your gifts and passions for granted, rather than seeing how God gave you those gifts and passions.
• You don’t believe that part of what makes us unique, as women and men, made in the Image of God, is that we have a desire to create – just like our Heavenly Father.
Many of these issues will rear their ugly head any time you get back in the studio and begin creating again. Your fears and anxieties rise up. That is when you need to preach the truth to your heart. So to help you with this I have come up with a few things to preach to your heart:
1) You are a child of God:
“See what great love the Father has lavished on us,
that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” (1 John 3:1)
You are not an unwanted guest, but a cherished child of God. This may be harder to connect with if you did not have a healthy childhood, but it still what you long for. As psychologist Curt Thompson writes, “we all come into this world looking for someone looking for us.” I highly recommend his book, The Soul of Shame. We all want to be known and to be loved and our parents were designed by God to be the first people in which we find that love we are looking for. God loves you as his child, and invites you to place your faith in him wholeheartedly, like a child. This is where healing and hope begins.
2) God cares deeply about artists, and filled an artist with His Spirit:
“The LORD said to Moses, “See, I have called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with ability and intelligence, with knowledge and all craftsmanship” (Exodus 31:1-3)
If you have been around AEM you know this is a core verse. It shows that the first person in the Bible filled with the spirit of God was an artist. The implications are many, but one of them which is important here is that God absolutely loves artists and has a purpose for their gifts. There is a reason why God didn’t choose a prophet, a priest, or a king to be the first person filled with the Spirit of God. God has a special place in his heart for artists. Our Arts and Entertainment Institute contains 4 core modules just on the artist Bezalel, because his life and his calling are a model for artists today.
3) God expects you to develop your talents and be faithful with them:
14 “For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property. 15 To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. 16 He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. 17 So also he who had the two talents made two talents more. 18 But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money. 19 Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. 20 And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here, I have made five talents more.’ 21 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 22 And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here, I have made two talents more.’ 23 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 24 He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, 25 so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here, you have what is yours.’ 26 But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? 27 Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. 28 So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. 29 For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.” (Mt 25:14-30)
This parable is shocking at first because we often assume God wants us to play it safe in life. This parable makes it clear that when God gives us gifts, he wants us to take risks and use those talents and gifts. To sit on our gifts and let them atrophy is not why God gave them to you. There may be a season in life where other priorities take the center stage in your life, but our gifts and talents are important to God, and it is your responsibility to develop them. Don’t live a life that is safe. Live a life that is exciting, taking healthy risks, and taking chances with your creative gifts and talents. We can’t do this if we are worried about being worthy. We need to trust God’s love for us and move forward in confidence.
The best starting point is to approach each day reminding yourself God loves you and gave you your talents. You don’t need anything else to prove your worth. So take the time today to write down the voices and thoughts that steal your hope and joy. Then read the passages I list above, and take time to see the truth of God’s love for you and for your creative life.
Pray, and ask God to help you believe and embrace the truth. Then ask yourself how your life will be different once you have embraced these truths. How will you respond differently to family and friends? How will you respond to your own thoughts that have held you back in the past? Make a plan, and begin to dream of the freedom you will experience creatively and spiritually as you hold on to these truths.
If you are hungry for a full dynamic approach to your calling and your creative life, I encourage you to check out our calling course. If you are hungry for a solid and complete theology of the arts, check out our Arts & Entertainment Institute. We are here to encourage and serve you as you serve our Lord and Savior wherever he calls you to create. So share in the comments below what questions and challenges you face in your worthiness as a child of God and an artist.
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Copyright © 2020 Joel & Michelle Pelsue. All Rights Reserved. Used with Permission.