Seasons of The Creative Life
The successful career of an artist requires adapting to the seasons of the creative life. The same creativity required to innovate and express new ideas, is needed to adapt to the seasons of life. Each season in life presents us with fresh opportunities and obstacles. From studying under mentors in a university setting, to becoming a mentor and giving back to others once you are an established artist, each season is unique. Your identity and understanding of your role in society must be elastic enough to adapt and respond to each new season.
We will always value our training, and those who encouraged us at the outset, but we must continue to grow in each season. We need the traditions and training as much as we need tenacity in the face of each challenge. As Winston Churchill stated:
“Without tradition, art is a flock of sheep without a shepherd. Without innovation, it is a corpse.”
This is not unique to art and artists. It is true for business owners, entrepreneurs, teachers, doctors, and lawyers. Society never stops changing, and God never stops working on our hearts and minds to become more like Christ in the midst of these changing seasons.
There are advantages and challenges in each season. There are advantages that the young emerging artists possess, and advantages that the veteran and more accomplished artists possess. There is the advantage of the insider of the artistic community and there is the advantage of being from the outside. The grass will inevitably appear to be greener, but we must learn to thrive where we find ourselves.
Most creatives start by creating in the university environment where they know what to expect and how to succeed. They follow what their instructors and mentors say in order to graduate and get the grades. Even if you start to create years later, you often start with a mentor or instructor.
The beauty of this season is that you are not depending upon your craft to pay the rent or feed a family. There is a tremendous amount of freedom and liberty in this context. It is a great time to explore, take great risks and try new ideas, mediums and techniques. This is the time to grow quickly by failing over and over, without letting it hold you back. You know your failures are safely hidden within the walls of the studio, the class or the theater. Great teachers will encourage this mindset.
2) Emerging Talent
The pressure begins to mount at this level. You are no longer a student, but you are still unknown. Most creatives feel the pressure to make their mark within the first few years. This may be to justify getting a college degree in a creative field to their parents, or to prove themselves to any number of groups. The benefit of this group is that they usually don’t have a family, and thus don’t have family obligations. They can share a room and rent with others, live on the cheap, and pour countless hours into their creative endeavors.
The great benefit is time. You have time to pour into your creative growth, you have time to network, and you have time to learn the ‘business’ of being an artist. Yes, if you didn’t know it yet, being an artist is a business, and it is most like being an entrepreneur. If that seems daunting, get on the list to hear about our Catalyst Course, next time we offer it. But whether you want to pursue that or not. Embrace the time and freedom you have in this season.
3) Veteran Creative
Veteran Creatives are not trying to prove themselves. They may still need to hustle, to sell scripts, raise money for film projects and find new galleries to sell their work. However, they already know what their niche is as an artist. They know how much failure and success have both played a role in their career, and they have learned that life as a creative is full of ups and downs.
This usually leads them to be a bit less dreamy eyed, and a lot more even keeled. The art world and the entertainment industry are still ever-evolving, and require repeated adaptation, but the veteran artist has usually accepted this, and works to change with the industry, the patron, or the gallery.
Your life as a Christian also has seasons. Every time I pick up my bible and reread the stories I have heard since my childhood I am struck by the twists and turns of each life. We read of godly men and women surrounded by a rebellious generation. We read of leaders who fall, and prostitutes who become rescuers. Each person has their own unique journey and their own unique relationship with God, but there are several important seasons of the spiritual life with which we should be familiar:
1) Spiritual Birth
When we first become believers, there is often substantial immediate growth, accompanied by tremendous peace and hope as the Holy Spirit comes to reside within our hearts. Like a baby nursed at her mother’s breast, we take comfort in the warm tender love of God in our lives.
2) Spiritual Adulting
Much like our physical growth, we cannot spend our lives drinking mother’s milk, never developing our teeth, developing our ability to chew, or to digest hearty food. Children may not like trying other foods at first, but loving parents insist on transitioning the child to chew on bread, meat and other healthy foods. So it is with the spiritual life.
New believers will experience this phase of growth as God removes or withdraws some of the comforts they experienced early on in their spiritual life, and beckons them to trust in His love even though now they must be obedient whether the benefits of comfort are there. This is the road to discipleship and sanctification.
“though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.”
– Hebrews 5:11-14 (NIV)
3) Spiritual Maturity
For those who endure to grow up and who are obedient, there is a sweetness and tenderness in their disposition. Sadly, not all Christians who have grown old in years, ever mature in their faith. Too many refuse to trust God during the hard times.
But when you see the spiritually mature brothers and sisters in Christ, you know them by their humility, their graciousness, and their faithfulness. These are the people you and I should seek out for counsel, and to help us learn to grow in the faith.
This maturity is what God wants for each of us, and will use the challenges of this life to mold us into godly men and women. Never underestimate the blessings that can come from hard times. God uses them to break our idols, knock off our rough edges, and to prune us so that we may bear fruit.
Beyond the vocational seasons and the spiritual seasons, you have seasons formed by the nature and the health of your family. Ignore these dynamics and you cause pain in your own life and in the lives of the loved ones around you. God never designed you to live in isolation, and God designed your closest relationships to be vehicles of sanctification. Each season of life, God is calling you to grow in your dependence upon Him, and grow in your active love for those around you. This is part of the life of all Christians, including those who are artists and creatives.
Families and relationships can change quickly. One day everything is predictable, and the next day a relative may get cancer, or encounter a severe tragedy. What seemed clear the day before, is now muddied and confusing. We know we are called to care for the sick, the hurting and the weak. We also know we should take time to care for our own family members and parts of our church community. But how do we balance the needs of our creative career with our family needs, our church needs, and our economic needs? The key is come back to biblical principles. Your career is not more important than anything else.
The highest priority is your relationship with God. Without this, everything else will lose its beauty and value. Second priority is your family. If you are parents, your priority is to provide a stable and safe home. If you are married, it is to your spouse and then your kids and your parents. These are relationships God has given you to invest in and to benefit from. Your career should never be more important than this – whether you are a CEO, a media mogul, or an artist.
Adapting to the Changing Seasons
Each season, these priorities can impact your career and your sense of what God is calling you to do. Imagine a spouse battling cancer. Obviously, other things must be put on the back burner while you care for your spouse. Imagine a parent getting old and frail and needing assistance. This will impact the time you have for your career. All of these factors will affect your calling, because your calling as an artist is not static, but dynamic. You actually have multiple kinds of callings and understanding this is essential to adapting in a healthy way in each new season. If you want more information on this, check out our Artist’s Calling Free MasterClass.
No matter what season you are in, be thankful. God is with you on the mountain top and He is with you in the storm. God will never leave you nor forsake you, and He will use all the seasons of your life to mold and shape you into the beautiful work of art He has called you to be. Remember these words of Paul to the church in beautiful city of Ephesus.
“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus,
so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” – Ephesians 2:10 (New Living Translation)
I would love to hear how this article helped give you clarity. Share your comments down below.
What season of life are you in right now?
How is this season drawing you closer to Christ?
Are you bitter about the resistance you are experiencing? Is it hard to trust God in the middle of the storm?
Are you willing to adapt and get creative with your family, as you do with your art?
If you want to really dig into this topic and get clarity about your calling and how to be faithful to your calling in each season, please check out our Free Artist’s Calling Masterclass.
Copyright © 2022 Joel & Michelle Pelsue. All Rights Reserved. Used with Permission.