Lately I’ve been re-reading parts of a book our church’s ministry team studied several years ago called The Heart of the Artist, by Rory Noland. As a writer who loves Jesus, my highest hopes are to pen words which paint accurate and compelling portraits of the Savior, and to brush landscapes onto the minds of readers which love them along a path leading straight into His arms of hope and peace.
As artists, we have the responsibility of making sure the strokes of our messages synchronize with His Kingdom purposes. So, here’s a portion from this book, which is a great resource for those ever looking for ways to keep their gifts in check, while at the same time using them with reckless abandon for a world desperately in need.
From Chapter 4: Excellence vs. Perfection
When we talk about excellence in the arts, we often talk about artistic integrity. Having artistic integrity simply means that an artist performs or creates with skill. Psalm 33:3 tells us to ‘play skillfully, and shout for joy.” Don’t strive to be perfect; instead, try to perform or create skillfully. In other words, do the best you can with the talent you’ve been given. It doesn’t glorify God to be mediocre. He’s the God who exhibited ultimate skill and creativity in forming the universe. He delights in creativity and assigns value to things produced with skillful artistry. There was a vocalist in the Old Testament named Kenaniah who had a reputation for being skillful (I Chron. 15:22). He was singled out for leadership and responsibility because of his talent. He had artistic integrity. We need to shoot high artistically. We need to aim for quality over quantity, and substance over show.
We need to take the development of our artistic skill very seriously. First Chronicles 25:7 tells us that the artists in the Old Testament were all trained . . . Artistic integrity involves hard work. There is a price to be paid for excellence. Don’t kid yourself and think otherwise . . . This is no time for us artists in the church to be lazy. God is on the verge of using the arts in a mighty way . . .
. . . Saturate your mind with God’s Word so that when you perform a song or drama or dance about God’s grace . . . you feel a conviction down to the depths of your soul about how wonderful that grace is and how no one should live without it. Don’t neglect the potential for God’s Word to deepen the sincerity of your soul. If your heart is passionate about the things of God, you will communicate with sincerity . . . If we walk in the Spirit, the Lord will anoint our work as artists, and we will minister powerfully in His name.
Good stuff, yes?
Convicting, for sure.
I confess I don’t prepare my heart nearly enough before I write. And finding time to more deeply develop my skills is elusive.
But I can testify that when I do, breakthrough moments happen in my manuscripts, and I’m the one overwhelmed and knee-buckling-ly in awe of His grace.