calling the hearts of all artists

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.

What about you? Do you prepare your heart before you write? How do you pursue excellence of mind and talent as you pound out stories for Him?

11 thoughts on “calling the hearts of all artists

  1. Great stuff, Amy! This may be just what I needed to breakthrough my block. I need to give it up to God and listen to my heart. Thank you, once again, for sharing your insight. 🙂

  2. I am not an artist or a writer but I love to share…I struggle with putting things into words in conversation and writing. But the words of this post inspire me and I especially cling to these words from the excerpt: “If your heart is passionate about the things of God, you will communicate with sincerity.” I am so prayerful that whatever I say or do, that it is with a sincere and quite humbled heart. Thank you for sharing 🙂

      1. Aww, Thank you, Amy, that means the world to me. I just read the book of Ruth over the week end and tried to write about it. Your blog post showed up in my email in the midst (isn’t God so good?) So while struggling a bit, I am going to keep these great words of wisdom in mind and in prayer today as I keep on pondering and try to convey what I felt God was putting on my heart. Thank you again, friend!

  3. Such an inspiring post. For me as a writer my biggest struggle lies in believing I have anything of value to say, which God can use in the heart and life of another. But of course if He gave me the talent and the passion for writing He will infuse my efforts with the life of His spirit.

  4. I chose a verse for my writing life: Philippians 4:8 — Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

    I keep that in mind when I put on my writing hat. “Saturate your mind with God’s word” — I love that. It’s the only way those true, honorable, just, etc., “these things” listed in that verse are going to get into my mind. I do so want to please God with my writing as well as warm the hearts of my readers towards Him. Thanks for the lovely post.

  5. A portion of the book quote reminds me of a saying ’round here:

    do the best you can
    with what you have
    while you are able

    And I especially like the part about communicating with sincerity. That’s it, isn’t it?

    Thanks so much, miss Amy. I love “StoryCraft: Reflections on Faith, Culture & Writing from the Author of Hank the Cowdog” by John R. Erickson. Have you read it?


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