Is being ‘gifted’ enough?

Creative artists sometimes must remind themselves of their true worth

There’s something about a gift that makes everyone happy.

Whether it’s a for birthday, a holiday, or just because, there’s nothing quite like the moment that someone is presented with a gift. Even the people who know what’s inside the present watch with eager anticipation, waiting to see the gift revealed and the reaction of the recipient.  Something about the process of opening a present makes us want to be a part of it.

As a creative, you’re probably accustomed to people referring to you as ‘gifted.’   Your gift was given to you by your Creator, and you’ve likely spent your life unwrapping it and sharing it with others.  But when we feel that our gift is all people are interested in, a negative side of this giftedness can arise.

When people seem to focus only on our talents, we can become jaded, overly sensitive, or worse, addicted to approval. We could equate it to the child that rips open the package to get to the gift, and discards the package without a thought. If artists are merely packages that contain the gift, we don’t have much to offer than just a container for people to discard once they have experienced our talent.

However, God never emphasizes the gift- he always focuses on the giver. When we are using our gifts to bless others, we’re doing more than giving something within ourselves –we are actually giving ourselves away.

The time, energy and discipline of the creative process defines who we are as artists. So when someone reads your poem, hears your song, or watches you perform, you aren’t just giving them something apart from you. You’re giving a part of yourself. And you will always be more valuable than the things you create.

Why?

Because God says you are valuable. If it’s more of a blessing to give than to receive, then the person that gives is more valuable than the thing that they give. As an artist, you are more than just gifted. You are a gift – not just your talent, but the wholeness of your being.

Remember as you offer your gifts to others, that it’s much more than being creative or talented.

It’s an act of generosity.

Share your thoughts: Have you ever felt devalued or used only for your talent? How did you respond? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Finish It!: How to push your creations to completion

Bringing our big ideas to life takes discipline, commitment and courage

“Art is never finished, only abandoned.”
Leonardo da Vinci

Most creatives have no problem with coming up with ideas. We enjoy the process of brainstorming, thinking ‘what if’, and dreaming of possibilities.

Making those possibilities a reality, however, is a different story.

Sometimes, instead of being productive creators, we can become professional procrastinators. There’s a big difference between coming up with amazing ideas, and actually making them happen. Here’s what happens when we focus more on thinking of ideas rather than on finishing them.

First of all, we can become overwhelmed by the size of the task. At this stage, some of us decide the big idea is not worth the energy and discipline it will take. We keep our ideas inside a box of ‘only if it’s realistic.’ Which of course, guarantees that we’ll never push a big idea forward.

What’s on your Plate?: 3 keys to a healthy creative lifestyle

Being a fulfilled artist requires a specialized mental and spiritual diet

Remember when you were a child at the dinner table?

If you had a mother, grandmother or aunt who was old-school, you likely heard these words when you were trying to avoid eating your vegetables – “Finish what’s on your plate.”
In their eyes, not eating your entire meal meant you weren’t getting all the nutrition you needed. It was their way  of ensuring we would continue to be healthy and happy.

Fast forward into our adult lives, and someone who’s busy will often say,  “There’s a lot on my plate.”

That’s probably true about you.  Ideas, projects, family and work responsibilities, marketing and branding yourself, planning for the future – it feels like there’s no way you can finish it all. Your plate is full and your first impulse to push it away and run from the table.
But some items on your plate must be finished no matter what – the vegetables of the creative life, you might call them. Dedicating time to connect with God daily. Being a good spouse, family member and friend. Doing your best creative work.

Here’s the catch – when we were small, our parents and guardians fixed our plates for us. Now, we determine what’s on the menu.

Is a paycheck a prison for artists?

The debate on artists who are employed in other occupations requires a different perspective

“A paycheck is the bribe they give you to give up on your dreams.”

This phrase has been circulating in social media circles recently, and the implication is clear. According to this mindset, those that work for a traditional company with a salary are less likely to explore other options, like being self-employed or attempting to do something more rewarding with their lives.

But is this a true assumption?

Do people who maintain a traditional job sacrifice their dreams simply by being employed?

Seeds of Success: Why creatives must keep cultivating ideas

A personal reminder to artists to stay positive when things aren't growing fast

People who have a talent for growing plants are said to have a ‘green thumb’. If so, my thumbs are the total opposite of green, whatever that is.

Anything I try to grow is doomed to a early demise. I remember with embarrassment when we bought Chia pets for our children, and even those tiny ceramic heads, which only require a little sprinkle of water and sunlight, failed to produce any greenery for our kitchen.

Clearly God was gracious in not making me a farmer.

This is why I’m amazed when I look at at the fresh fruits and vegetables in the produce section of grocery stores. The process of cultivating seeds to maturity,  harvesting the crops, and eventually getting that produce to my plate takes a lot more work than I’ll ever comprehend.
As creatives, we cultivate seeds as well, but in a different form. Our ideas, creative impulses, and visions are much bigger than the Chia pet variety. These seeds have the potential to give millions of people inspiration, encouragement and happiness. But if we see ourselves as ‘brown thumb’ creatives, we’ll never hang on until the harvest comes.

You may have had brown thumb thoughts as you’ve endured seasons where your creative seeds seem dormant. You may have become discouraged, decided that your ideas will never grow, and let the weeds of doubt overtake your artistic field.

Don’t let those negative ideas choke the life out of your creativity.

Keep planting. Keep watering. Keep putting your dreams in the sunlight where they have a chance to flourish.  It’s the only way to see your way to creative success.

You never know which seed will be the one that will feed a generation.

Share your thoughts: How do you avoid getting discouraged when your creative projects seem to be going nowhere? Share your comments below.