Posts Tagged ‘God’s call’

Yesterday, I posted about my dream to write a novel/screenplay. I’ve had this dream as long as I can remember, all the way back to when I was a small child, making up little shows for my sister and my cousins. That dream went away for a long time. It was beaten down by a whole lot of voices, internal and external, that basically all asked the same question. “Who are you to think you an do that?”

What qualifies me to do such a lofty project? Nothing really. I’ve never written fiction to speak of, though I do love to write and tell stories, sort of modern day parables, if you will. I went to a writer’s workshop two years ago with actor, comedian, screenwriter Torry Martin, and it sort of re-lit the spark. Am I qualified to do this? On paper no, but I’ve learned not to get too caught up in earthly qualifications and as a Christian creative, I don’t think you can either. Remember, as the old saying goes, “professionals built the Titanic, amateurs built the Ark.”

Am I belittling education and experience? No. We all owe it to ourselves to work hard at the things God has given us to do. What I am saying is if the Lord is leading you to do something, don’t disqualify yourself as inexperienced. Start doing the work. Make the effort. Show up every day, roll up your sleeves and give it your best. From there it’s in God’s hands.

As I look back over this career of mine, I think of all the cool things I have gotten to do. From writing for a youth ministry resource, to meeting some of my favorite performers, to my work for a licensee of the Teenage Mutant Turtles, to the books that I’ve written, to the opportunities I have had to speak to thousands of people all over this country, they all have one thing in common. I facetiously say “Great things have happened in my life over and over again because I was “too stupid to know I wasn’t qualified.” Now to be clear, I don’t think I’m too stupid to do most things. Rather, I’ve made a conscious decision when I feel led to do something, to assume that I can do what God calls me to do. I start putting forth the effort and I do the work. That’s not to say everything I do is a raging success, but everything has at the very least brought personal growth and experience and so it was worth the experience. I learned this when I wrote my first book. I shopped it around for a publisher, and was rejected over and over again. Finally I was approached by an e-publisher who told me after reading my manuscript, she reconciled a broken relationship. It was at that point, I made a decision, if even one person is touched and/or blessed, the effort was worth my time, because I was doing something I loved and something I feel God led me to. That attitude has led me to some really great places.

God is good, trust Him to know whether or not you’re qualified and do the work.

I have to say, I love what I do and because of that I feel really blessed. I get to create for a living. In the early days of my career, I always figured the only way I would get to do that was if I became a professional artist. To tell you the truth, pursuing that was one of the most frustrating periods of my life. It always seemed like it was feast or famine, the jobs I had paid the bills, but I can’t say I was ever really creatively fulfilled. I now understand why that was. God had something different for me, and in many ways, something better. Now that’s not to say that ministry is better than art. If you’re called to art, do art and do it to the glory of God.

I think deep down inside, I was making assumptions. I was creative and I had a gift for art, therefore God must be calling me to be an artist and so I worked and worked and strove to be an artist full time, professionally, and I always felt pretty stuck and unfulfilled. The thing is if I had been paying attention, I would have realized there was something different in store for me. I’ve been using art as a ministry tool for almost two decades, but I still kind of thought I would make my actual living as a professional artist/designer/etc. True I even pastored a church for almost decade, but it was a very part time pay and an almost full time ministry, but I still relied on something else to pay the bills. The thing is God wants us to rely on Him.

I had to have some help to get to that point. The church closed and God led me to a wonderful church to heal and recover. I started to go out speaking and figured I would do that part time and continue relying on another job for my income. Then the door closed on the job too. Now I didn’t have a choice. I had to rely on the Lord. He opened the door for more speaking and then he led me to a church who needed an interim pastor. It was during my slow speaking time, so I said sure, I can do anything for a couple months. Something strange happened. I fell in love with the people of this church and they showed me they love me too. It didn’t take long to remove “interim” from my title. Here’s the thing. I am making more art, than I ever did as I illustrate my messages for the power points. I am teaching painting through my paint parties. My pastorate is “3/4 time” which means I have a little more free time, and during that time, I create all kinds of other things for my speaking ministry, which I also usually end up sharing with my church. I am writing more and creating more and one last thing, I’m generally pretty happy and fulfilled.

Why do I share this? I share this today for the person who is feeling unfulfilled creatively. For the person who thinks they’re not good enough at their art, because they’re not making a living at it. I guess I am posting what I wish I would have read when I was going through all that same stuff. God has a plan and a purpose for you. Believe it. What if you did your art just for the love of art and incidentally for the love of God? What if you moved forward in faithfulness and relied on God to put you in the right places and the right times?

One last thing, none of the other things during those times when I felt really unfulfilled were wasted. I learned skills that benefit me to this day and I learned to appreciate the life I have now. It’s an amazing blessing, but it’s not always easy and there are times where I am working really hard for long hours. All the things I’ve done in life give me a greater appreciation for all that I have.

Do what you do for the love of it. Work at what is before you like you’re doing it for God and rely on Him to take you where He wants you to be.

For years I had no idea there was such a thing as calling. I jut figure we all just sort of did what we want, I guess. You took a job, you worked for the weekend and hopefully you got to retire with enough time left to enjoy it. Then I met Jesus and began to believe there was a plan and a purpose for my life. So then I knew I had a calling, and at first I thought that had to do with vocation. I knew my calling was to be an artist, but there was a problem to that as well. I began to believe that because I was called to be an artist meant success as a professional artist and when at times life got difficult, I started to have questions for God. Did I miss Him? Did I get this wrong? Was my desire to be an artist just coming from me?

Then one day I heard a call to ministry. At first, I thought this was at the exclusion of my art calling. In fairness there was some truth to that one. My issues with my art career had gone into idolatry and I needed to let it go for a while, but it was not meant to go forever. Eventually I saw that art was a tool for ministry and that both could co-exist, and work really well together, but I’m still not sure I grasped my calling. I think I’ve finally figured it out and maybe this will be helpful to you too. Am I called to art? Yes. Am I called to Ministry? Yes! Here is the thing, I am called to bring the arts to the church and the church to the arts. I am Christ’s ambassador in both worlds. I use art to communicate the Gospel and I speak to the church about how to embrace the arts and creativity. Both are important and both are useful to the Kingdom. ministry is service. It’s not just for the church. The ultimate end of ministry is to take the gospel to the ends of the earth, and that happens in the church building and the marketplace.

Everything God gives us is useful to His Kingdom. That’s why He gives it. The thing is, we never know how He will use it, so we have to be faithful with everything and from there, we need to trust the Lord.

Be faithful and use what you’ve been given to the glory of God. Ultimately, that’s your calling.