The Heart of Creativity
Creativity thrives not only when we encounter new ideas but when we dig deeper and begin to understand the heart of creativity. Such freedom comes from more than the mere allotment of time, or the availability of instruments, tools or materials. What we really need is the freedom from within our souls to run with abandon, love with a fierce passion, and to celebrate life because we have found freedom in our very soul.
Every creative person faces the challenge of a dry spell, burnout, or boredom with all the same old ideas everyone has been expressing. Even King David, the man “after God’s own heart,” experienced this struggle. Like King David, we yearn to “sing a new song”, create a new play, fashion a new kind of sculpture or write a new symphony. It is part of the universal drive of men and women. We all need to encounter seasons where we need a way beyond the old rhythms, and a way to rediscover the heart of creativity.
Clichés grow stale. What gave them prominence, and what they offer in familiarity, is also the very reason they lack vibrancy. Authentic artists and creatives want to move beyond the cliché and give birth to a fresh way to express what is going on in the world and what they are experiencing in their relationships and in their own heart. We cannot live in the past, the sentimental or the cliché. We must live now, in the moment, seeking to see what fresh wind is blowing today and what God is doing in our lives.
Shortcuts and Life Hacks
The temptation is always there to grab the latest technique, or some 3-step program to unlock your creative juices. We live in a world obsessed with short cuts, life hacks and even performance enhancing drugs, (starting with caffeine). If we are having problems, our world assumes there must be a quick fix, or at least something that can drastically improve our live and our artistic pursuits.
Life-hacks are tempting, but they can lead us far away from the healthy, generative path of creativity. Not everything in life is about performance and efficiency. Consider how are bodies require sleep, how our soul needs a sabbath, and how our body and soul need the balance of work, family, play and rest. The obsession with techniques and shortcuts only compounds the problem. Maybe what we need most is rest.
Every night we stop! For most of us we spend one third of our life recovering, healing and rejuvenating by living in a coma like state for eight hours. Our bodies were not designed for an obsession with efficiency. They were designed with a need for rest, for community and for fellowship. Ignore these needs, and your life will begin to fall apart at the seams. Sleep is essential, and our need for sleep says something profound about how we are designed.
Matthew Walker’s book on Sleep (amazon affiliate link) looks at the science of why we need sleep and demonstrates how essential it is that we stop obsessing over performance, long hours, and caffeine addictions. The health benefits alone are sufficient for us to take sleep serious. But the benefits to your creativity are taking sleep seriously.
Going to the Source
If we want to foster creativity and imagination, we need to pause and consider The One who gave us these gifts. The One who fashioned the stars and created everything from ladybugs to lizards and lions, and created us with this same creativity. If He gave us this gift, then it is worth taking time to consider what this means in our relationship to Him. God gave us the desire to communicate with our friends and audiences through song, dance, acting and speaking, and countless other ways. He is the source of your desire to create, and knows what you need each day to thrive.
What Your Art School Never Told You
I want to tell you something your art school never told you. The heart of creativity is found in living a life spent loving God. The most bountiful source of creativity is God Himself, and you can spend a lifetime unfolding countless layers of his beauty and creativity by studying His Word, meditating upon His character, and enjoying His creation. But this can never fully be done as an outsider merely examining these things externally.
As C.S. Lewis has noted, the real beauty is found from within – it is found living a life in a relationship with God. It is no good pretending, and it is no good observing Christianity from the outside. It is only when you finally believe and put your faith in Christ, that your heart will be renewed. It is only then that the joy and freedom found in Christ will fuel your creativity in a way you have never known.
Creativity of Christ
If you are looking for a character in literature or in history whose creativity was far beyond the ordinary kinds of creativity, look unto Christ, Himself. He was a master storyteller, fashioning metaphors and parables that confounded the most religious and educated of his era. He spoke in ways that the poor and downtrodden felt heard and embraced and he refused to play games with hypocrites. His art form with words is unparalleled.
If this is new to you, I recommend you start by reading the Gospel of John, in the New Testament and seeing if it does not spark your creativity. Jesus was God incarnate, and he offers us a glimpse of how to love others, communicate creatively and live boldly.
The Incarnation of Christ
Yet beyond His words, what is most profound is His very life. What other religion speaks of an Almighty God, above all gods, who chooses to become a mere mortal, and then to die a sacrificial death in order to save all humanity from their guilt and shame. It the epic saga of all epic sagas. It is the story of which Lord of the Rings, the Chronicles Narnia, Dante’s Inferno, and so many others are but an echo.
To read the Bible in its entirety, has been the spark of creativity for countless creatives throughout history. Most of us have heard the stories at Christmas countless times and it starts to sound cliché, but it isn’t. The life of Christ, understood in all its glory, can be fresh every time if we look at it as more than a story – if we see it is a reality, that transformed everything.
God made you with a core desire to be in community. This is why it was not good for Adam or Eve to be alone. Adam longed for Eve, and Eve longed for Him. We were made to find deep fellowship and unity in such a relationship. And even if we are not married, we were designed to be in community with other men and women with whom we can laugh, sing, cry and mourn.
In fact, it is in community where we find healing from our wounds and where we find joy and hope for the future. And the more your community is anchored in the love of God, and in the life of Christ, the more that hope will be everlasting. For only in relationship to God do we find an eternal hope, and trust in a faithful God who will fulfill His promises to His people. Such a community brings peace, acceptance, joy, and creativity into our hearts.
The Spirit of God
Your creativity will grow when you take the time to understand the blessing of having the Spirit of God. God loves His people so much that he sent is Holy Spirit to live within them, to comfort them, to encourage them, and to inspire them. It is amazing that Christ died to set us free from guilt and shame, but God didn’t stop with this work of Christ while he was here on earth. He also gave us His spirit, who helps us to understand life, love, and even our creativity. He comforts us in our pain, helps us to understand our struggles, and shows us the pathway to hope in all situations.
This joy and hope increase our creativity. How? It frees up our mind and spirit, taking away all the stress created by our fear, eliminating the anxiety that drains our energy, and allows us to live in the moment with hope and gratitude.
God has called you to use your gifts, and to develop your talents, so that you can be a blessing to those around you. Maybe your art will minister to people who are wounded and who have experienced trauma. Or, maybe your art will point out injustices, like bringing attention to the lives of Christians persecuted around the world today.
There is not one approach God has for all artists. There are countless ways in which God can use you. If you want to explore what it means to be called by God to be an artist, and all the various ways God may call you, I encourage you to check out our free masterclass.
The Eternal Value of Your Work
Your gifts and the art you create have eternal value. Paul tells us all that God has called each of us to create good works, which God prepared in advance for us to accomplish. (Eph 2:10) These good works are the actions we purposely choose to take each day in order to bless others and to be a blessing.
This may take the form of offering a kind word, or creating a work of art. The medium we use is not the point, but rather the influence we each have because God has already prepared the opportunities for us. The art you create in this manner has eternal value.
The Economic Value of Your Work
Don’t undervalue your art or your talent. And don’t undervalue the freedom you will experience when you sell your art for a price that speaks a benediction on you, and represents a purchase of value for your patron/customer. This is true whether you are working in the music industry and need a good lawyer and agent to get the best deal, or if you are selling a creative product at a local fair. Don’t undervalue your gifts and your work. Too many Christians overemphasize humility and forget that they are providing something of value to their audience. Every worker is worthy of their wages. (1 Tim 5:18)
Christians in the arts must break free from the mentality that they cannot promote themselves for fear of pride, or the mentality that they can’t charge real money because that desire is not of God. Those ideas are a corrupted understanding of life that will only cripple your creativity and your career.
If this has been your struggle at all I cannot recommend more highly, this course. In the interest of full disclosure, it is taught by my wife. But I wouldn’t promote it if I didn’t believe in it, and the testimonials speak for themselves. If you are struggling with any part of your artistic business, marketing, or promotion, sign up for the next class before it is too late. This class ties biblical principles to practical, real world business practices and to your creative process. Take a minute to check it out, or send it to someone who needs it.
Creativity thrives not only when we encounter new ideas but when we have the freedom to pursue them. This freedom requires more than just time, tools and materials. What we really need is the freedom from within our souls to run with abandon to Jesus, love God with a fierce passion, and to celebrate life in community. Artists of faith should have the greatest sense of freedom and the most profound creativity. This is because our hearts are free from the anxiety and fear that comes from sin and guilt, and because our very soul is inspired by the one and only God of the universe. This is our hope in life, and in our art!
Copyright © 2021 Joel & Michelle Pelsue. All Rights Reserved. Used with Permission.
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