The Frustrated Artist In the Church… How to Deal With Being Wronged

Posted: October 13, 2015 in books, Thoughts on art ministry and life
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I’ll just admit it. I’m a little frustrated. Not with my church, they are doing fine, great even. No I am frustrated by something I’m reading. You see I am re-reading Rory Noland’s classic book for artists in the church, Heart of the Artist. It’s a great book, but I find myself taking issue with a couple of the things he wrote. At the beginning of every chapter, Noland has an example—a story to illustrate the point of the chapter. They’ve been great, but the last two in a row have really aggravated me. He is using these examples to show where the artist in question is going wrong, and I have found myself saying, “Of course they’re ticked. The artist has been severely wronged, maybe even abused and the church or the other party is really, really, REALLY wrong!” Ironically enough, one of these chapters was on defensiveness, but I digress. As I calmed down, I began to remember something I often told the youth I used to minister to, “You have no control over what other people do, you can only control how you react, and what you do.” It’s absolutely true.

Early in my ministry, one of my mentors said something that I am sure I have quoted here before and something I have never forgotten. “Ministry is easy… except for the people.” It’s a funny statement, but it is absolutely true and if you stay in the church long enough (and you should) and especially if you use your creative gift to serve in the local church (and you should do that, too!) eventually you will be wronged. Someone will unleash something on you and it will be painful and aggravating and frustrating. You’ll be convinced that this behavior has no place in the body of Christ and you may even be right. Those things are out of your control. The question is, how will you deal with it? I have a few things that may help:

  1. Calm Down.Do not react in the spur of the moment. Take a few moments or hours or days to calm down and look at the situation objectively. Otherwise, it can be really easy to overreact and make things much, much worse. Through the process, you may want to take the following steps.
  2. Have a conversation. Matthew 18 is genius when it comes to dealing with conflict in the church. This is not surprising, it was taught by Jesus. The first thing Jesus says is, “If your brother (or sister) sins against you go to him, just between the two of you. If he listens you have won your brother (or sister) over.” God is all about relationships. He has been since the Garden of Eden (at least). Most of us have experienced turmoil that could have been easily resolved, with a conversation, but instead we left it to fester and become a major problem. Don’t do that.
  3. Check yourself. Is the problem really with the other person or is it with you? Sometimes it’s our own attitude that needs to change. Are you being defensive? Are you taking something personally that was meant to help?
  4. Ask yourself, “Is what you created appropriate for the venue for which it is created?” Sometimes what we created is just fine, maybe even wonderful, but we tried to put it in a place where it did not fit.
  5. Ask yourself, “Does the thing I am about to do glorify God?” Too often our response to this type of behavior is to withdraw, quit or even leave the church. It may feel right with every fiber of our being, but is it really what God would want or are we just acting out of our hurt? Regardless of how others act, our purpose in this world is to glorify God, to know Him and make Him known. Will your action move you closer to that goal or further away?

How we react in these situations is critical and make no mistake, people are watching. How our gifts are utilized in the future will be directly effected by our response to these situations. We need to honor God in all things…

even when we’ve been wronged…

even when it hurts.

  1. Jody Thomae says:

    This is so well articulated. I meet so many (not just artists) who have been wronged but they continue in the wrong by choosing to walk as a victim and/or often turning into an offender themselves, spewing gossip or hared to anyone who will listen. Will we be wronged? Yes! But we can choose not to wrong ourselves by taking our hurt to the Healer, to the One who is close to the brokenhearted.
    Keep on keeping on, Dave! You are a gem!
    Peace, Jody

    • amokarts says:

      Thanks so much Jody, I really found myself struggling with these examples and ten I started to check myself and realized this instinct to want to defend these fictional people might reveal a certain defensiveness in me. Your advice here is really quite good. We need to go to the healer. Thanks also for the gem comment. I will accept it even if most of the time I feel more diamond in the rough… God bless, Dave

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