Well it was a retro kind of morning this morning on my way home from the gym, so I popped in one of my favorite CDs, a compilation CD of classic songs by one of my favorite bands, Styx. Styx was one of those bands that rose to popularity during my formative years and I loved them. Still do. In particular this morning I heard the song Blue Collar Man. What a great song, and it set in motion this whole train of thought. What we really need today, especially in the church, are blue collar artists. What do I mean? Work with me for a moment.

For a large percentage of the population, the word artist is a synonym for weird. They expect us to be eccentric, odd or maybe just plain nutty. A lot of people will excuse us because they come to like our work, but I’m not sure they like us. At best they tolerate our quirks, laugh off our tardiness, doubt themselves when they don’t understand our latest weirdness, etc. but I have to imagine we can be frustrating. I’ve never wanted to be that way. I’ve often felt I’m a little too blue collar for my own good in this field, but I have no desire to change. Some artists seem to revel in being misunderstood. I’ve always seen art as a communication medium, and I want to be understood. Many artists expect their real value will come after they die. When I die, I’m going to a place far beyond my wildest dreams where I suspect I will do my greatest work ever, so I want what I do (not to mention who I am) to make a difference right here, right now, to the glory of God.

Maybe it’s because I was raised by a union steelworker, but I’ve always valued showing up on time, doing a good job and delivering what people expect, at the bare minimum. I know that’s very blue collar, but I’m okay with that. I just want the work to be worth the effort. Maybe that’s why I resonate with this song so much. In my day, the music artists who made it and lasted for the long haul, had a couple things in common. They were true to who they were, and they created things that their fans loved. They didn’t go after the people who didn’t like them. They knew the people who paid the bills (their fan base) and they over delivered, and then after they made their art, they went to work. They hopped on the buses and toured hundreds of nights a year. In other words they did the work. That’s what blue collar artists do. This is still the formula for success. Do your best work. Find the people who love it and over-deliver. It’s great to have dreams, but what really matters is doing the work.

We need less weirdness, and more blue-collar artists.

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