Your Identity as a Creative
Your identity as a creative is serious business. We must define clearly what that means. There is a danger finding your identity in only one project, or one talent. Your identity must be greater than that if you will be able to pivot and adapt to the challenges of life. The very heart of your identity must be in the fact that you are creative because God made you creative. It is not something you drummed up, and it isn’t something you can lose.
Sure, you can develop skills and learn new techniques, but your creativity is always there because it is How God made you. He loves you and enjoys seeing you use your creativity. It is an essential part of the Image of God that you possess, and one which can help you identify with God as the Creator.
Most of us have an identity crisis. We believe God is good and He has gifted us with creativity. We have heard over and over Jesus loves us, and we learned as children from memorable songs that no matter our ethnicity, “we are precious in his sight.” And yet, somewhere along the road of life we get amnesia and leave the stability of those biblical truths to seek affirmation in other places.
As we grow up, we look for affirmation in getting good grades at school, in sports, or in the studio. And there is nothing wrong with wanting affirmation for doing good, but we cannot find our identity in what others think of us. This is the road to insecurity and anxiety. We like to think with maturity, things change in large measure. But as we grow up, and pursue our career, the same temptation remains. Do we find our sense of worth and value by what others say in the art world, or the entertainment industry? Are we crushed when people criticize our art, or elated when they praise our creativity? In order to thrive as a faithful creative throughout our career, our identity must be anchored in something more permanent and dependable.
One of the best ways to diagnose the source of your identity is to ask yourself some key questions. Take time to reflect on answers to the questions below. They will help clarify where your heart looks for affirmation, stability, and identity. Read them and answer them honestly:
What brings you the greatest satisfaction?
What is the one thing about you that you will not compromise?
Whose negative opinion can devastate you emotionally?
What do you fear the most?
What do you run to when you are discouraged?
I am not asking these questions to make you feel bad, or to feel guilty. I am asking these questions to help you find a deeper joy, a whole heartedness and the life Jesus died to give us. Jesus is anxious to meet you where you are, to forgive you and I, and to help us recover from looking other places for our identity. The point of this is not guilt, but restoration.
Once we recognize we are looking other places for our identity, we can repent, run to Jesus, and be restored. In fact, He promises “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9 (NIV). There is no reason to resist. No reason to hesitate. Only the opportunity to live life anchored in your identity as God’s creative son or daughter.
Beyond Baptism and Spiritual Babies
It is wonderful to begin your spiritual walk with Jesus to say a simple prayer, and ask Him into your heart. But this is the beginning of the journey, not the end of a transaction. Jesus wants us to grow spiritually, becoming more and more like Him. Some Christians grew up in a family or culture where being baptized means they are a Christian. Once the sacrament is performed the spiritual transaction is proclaimed finished you are a Christian. And though baptism does mark us as part of the family of God, it doesn’t save us. We must make our faith our own and learn to call Jesus our own personal Lord and Savior. The author of Hebrews tells us,
“…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 5:12-14 (NIV).
We are called to grow in our understanding of the Bible, grow in our discernment of what is right or wrong, and to grow in character so that we become more Christ-like. God is interested in a relationship with you more than the fact that you went through a particular ceremony. We must learn to live the way God has called us to live and learn to depend on Christ for our hope and our identity. The Good news is that our baptism is a starting point, inviting us into the life of a disciple. The challenge is to continue to find your identity in God’s love for you, and who He has called you to be.
Identity as a Disciple
Like an apprentice joining an artist guild in centuries past, we must learn and practice what it means to follow Christ. There are no short cuts to becoming a great artist. There are no short cuts to becoming a spiritually mature Christian. There are no instant formulas.
The Holy Spirit is working in your life, and it is a gradual process. You will make mistakes and learn to be thankful for God’s grace along the way. God will use the sermons you hear, the community of believers you spend time with, the Holy Spirit, Scripture, and the challenges of life to shape and mold you. The question is always the same: “Will you respond to the challenges of life and of your creative career by becoming more Christ-like, by seeking the approval of others, or by pursuing your own path?”
The Hard Decisions
I don’t say this like it is easy or even simple. It can be daunting. It can be overwhelming. But never lose sight of the truth – it is worth it! Christ is transforming us into His likeness. He wants us to become more loving, more patient, and more confident in His love for us.
The goal is for you to have complete confidence in who God made you to be and in His never-ending love for you. Then you can make decisions from a healthy foundation. Anchored in this confidence and hope in God’s goodness, we can make the tough decisions and take risks to love others, say what needs to be said, or even hold our tongue when that is needed. It is the path to a whole-hearted life, anchored in the love God has for you.
Audience of One
Who is your ultimate audience in life and in your creative career? God. He is the one who gave you these gifts and calls you to honor him through your craft and your content. This is easy to forget amidst all the challenges of making art, negotiating with agents, arguing over artistic decisions, and dealing with the overly flattering PR and the overly critical reviews. It is enough to make anyone’s head spin, and ego become unhinged.
That is why we must come back to the simple idea of the audience of one. Who are we really doing all of this for? Who do we want to be pleased with our work? Do we want the fans and critics to praise us? Of course. Do we want to find financial success and be able to produce more art and support other artists? I hope you do.
But when and where in your heart’s longing do you ask the question, “Will God look at what I have created and say, ‘well done my good and faithful servant?’”
The executives have a plan for your life.
The managers have a plan for your life.
The agents have a plan for your life.
The public relations people have a plan for your life.
The museum curators and gallerists have a plan for your life.
…and God has a plan for your life. But God doesn’t call you and yell in your ear or try to manipulate you into doing what He has intended for you. He is a good God. He is gracious and patient. This is why it is so tempting to listen to the other voices. We need to take time to read God’s Word and to listen for His voice.
Clarity in Our Identity
The more we focus on the audience of one, the more we can find clarity about our identity. While agents and managers may change their appeals with the direction of the wind, God is the same yesterday, today and forever. He will never fail you. So, take time to ask yourself which audience you have cared about the most in the past. Then ask God to help you focus on Him -your audience of one!
Please take time to think about this and share with me down below, how does this change the questions you ask yourself about your next project? How does this influence your creative process and prayer? How does this bring you hope and healing?
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Copyright © 2022 Joel & Michelle Pelsue. All Rights Reserved. Used with Permission.