Fear, Faith and Failure of an Artist

  • by Lori McMillan

All creation reflects something about the creator, and I believe the best art comes from deeply personal places. Visual artists mold, paint, sculpt, draw, or design their hopes, dreams and desires.

Artists often quietly live and die by the criticism they receive about their work. They want recognition that their work is good and worthy. Walking through the creative process can feel like a steep, steady hike, and artists may wonder if the destination will have a view worth all of the trouble.

Don’t we all?

Maybe your work or studies are not exposed and openly critiqued by others, but I think we would all agree we are tempted to live for the approval of man. We want our parents and mentors to be proud of the choices we make. We want our peers to deem us fun and interesting. We want to be accepted and understood.

Our days are made of tiny, little creations like a picture on Instagram, the clothes we wear, our contribution to the conversation with friends over lunch. In a subtle, unseen classroom, we are propping up our creation and biting our nails as the professor begins to evaluate.

There is good news for artists, and for the rest of us. The gospel for every one is this: We are not judged based on what we have done.

If we see ourselves as creators, trying to crank out something that will make our lives measure up, we are not accepting the new heart God wants to give us. But, if we see ourselves first as creation – new creation – declared good by God through Christ’s sacrifice, we are saved from performance.

"For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." Ephesians 2:8-10

Christians are God’s workmanship. The word "workmanship" means fabric; something you use to create. After all, God first introduces Himself in the Bible as a creator. He is the ultimate and perfect artist. He puts Christ on display in our lives and declares us holy.

The question is, will we actively trust in this truth? I want to push the artists in my life to walk in the good works He has prepared, knowing they have been declared clean, worthy and free. I want for us to create, teach, lead or plan knowing we are fully and undeservedly God’s workmanship. Critiques are a necessary part of the artistic process, but by God’s grace our lives are not declared worthy by other humans. Our lives were purchased by Christ.

Pray that the inner artists in all of us will see ourselves as a canvas covered in Perfect Beauty. Help validate the role as one who would point the rest of us to the Supreme Creator.