I am re-reading Rory Noland’s classic creative ministry book, Heart of the Artist for a class I’m taking. It’s wonderful. I’m also coming off a great weekend of ministry at a wonderful church in Virginia. Tonight those two things are sort of colliding. You see, emblazoned across the top of the back cover of the book is something I hear quite often when I minister.

“I Wish I Had Your Gift!”

Nolan then follows it with a question. “How do you handle those words as a creative artist?” When I read that, I thought answering his question would make a superb blog post, so here goes.

The first thing I say is “Thank you.” or “I appreciate that.” Some may think this is a little shallow or that I am being some sort of glory hog, but nothing could be further from the truth. This person has gone out of their way to show me appreciation, and encouragement, and I thank them for it. I will then follow that with acknowledgement of the Lord. They’ve usually just heard me spend the better part of an hour tying my gifts and theirs to God’s glory, they don’t need another sermon, just a little gratitude.

The next thing, and to me the most important thing is to ask this question: “What do YOU do?” Envying my gift is not what this is ultimately about. I am glad they appreciate what I do, but I want them to see that they too are gifted and that their gift is of immense value. I want them to realize that what they do is special and they can bring great glory to God by doing what they were created to do. Quite often they do something immensely interesting, (Maybe even something I wish I could do) often something I could never do and I let them know that. What I do is cool, but what they do can be cool too and more than cool it could be a great blessing to someone else.

Lastly, if it turns out the person is a visual artist and they actually want to do what I do. I encourage them to practice and develop their gift. One of the thing I say is I can paint a painting is six minutes because I’ve been painting for 40 years or more. This is not to say that it will take them 40 years to reach where I am, many will catch or surpass me in far less time, but what I want them to remember is there is work and sacrifice involved in serving the Lord in most fields, especially art.

One other thing. I try really hard to no longer downplay my gift. I used to think that in order to practice proper humility, I had to minimize what I do. Here’s the thing, my gift comes from God. It’s the way He has chosen to bless me. It doesn’t honor Him to me to belittle His gift to me. Instead, I praise Him for blessing me and encourage them to live in His blessing.

  1. Ellen Rice says:

    Dave, it was so good meeting you and your wife today in my gallery. I love your response to this kind of remark. I hear it often and sometimes even an outright “I envy you your talent,” and I’ve been turning it around in the same way you do, endeavoring to help the person realize their own gifts, and how their talents are often things I’m not good at or struggle to improve. Sometimes I don’t feel like I’ve reached them. Sometimes people want to argue when I tell them my talent didn’t happen over night, that God gave me the desire to work at the talent he gave me enough to improve it and that it took many years of practice. I think your answer is a better way of getting that across and you’ve taught me something that will be helpful. Thank you. — Ellen

    • amokarts says:

      Thanks Ellen, I appreciate your comment immensely. What you say about talent is poignant and true. God gives it to us, and we develop it through a lot of prayer and a lot of work. Practice cannot be overlooked or put aside. Your work is brilliant and I am so glad to have gotten to know you.

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