Putting God First as an Artist

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One day God asked me not to show people any of the artworks I had made which He had not spoken to me about.

You see, ever since I became a believer ten years ago, He has been asking me to create specific paintings, pictures, and sculptures – which I have been doing. But I also had other artwork from workshops, or that I had used to practice – that He had not asked me to do. I found His request interesting because even these extra artworks I had done had a Christian theme.

Artwork by Vicki Payne

Why would He not want me to show anyone?

I went ahead and removed the extra artworks from my website. At one point, I explained to a Christian friend why and shared the message I had received. My friend rebuked me, telling me that I should show everything because all artwork created by a Christian would bring God glory. But that is not what God had said. My friend seemed right, but he hadn’t tested the spirit that spoke to me. If he had –and whether he understood why or not – he would have realized that God was in it. Trusting God With Your Art

As a Christian artist, as in the rest of my life, I know that I cannot rely on my own understanding. Putting God first means putting myself –my individual needs, desires, and inclinations including ‘my own art’ behind His. Obviously, I knew that the art God had asked me to do was more worthwhile than that which I had done by myself even though some of His did not even have an obvious Christian theme. But I thought that what I had done without His input was still valuable enough to show others.

I guess I was wrong.

It reminds me of when, as believers, we choose to participate in Christian ministries which seem good and right, but are not God’s specific plan for our lives. Working with the youth group at church might be easy and fulfilling, but ask God first. He may want you to use that time to do something else. Fostering a child is a wonderful idea, but not if you are the wrong person for the job.

In all things, we must ask God’s opinion and then trust and obey his answer.

Artists, in particular, have a reputation for being self-absorbed and self-expressive. So it is a wonderful privilege to be a Christ-centred artist, showing other artists (and art audiences) what this looks like. Whether they know it or not, I am letting God speak through my artwork. And what He has to say is perfect, unlike my own interpretations.

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Vicki Payne
Vicki Payne
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Vicki Payne is an emerging artist (and musician, dancer, and writer) in Wellington, New Zealand. After a radical transformation to faith ten years ago she has been using the creative disciplines to communicate God’s love and goodness to others. Read her blog and check out her artwork online.

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Comments

  1. This was so good, Vicki. I have learnt this even when my writing and blog. There are certain things I had wanted to do and provide, Christian encouragement but I knew God had not sanctioned this. Interestingly, what he wanted me to do wasn’t what I would have expected. It seemed like the opposite but I couldn’t deny it was from him.

    I have also had difficulties explaining this to others. They can’t seem to understand why I wouldn’t do some seemingly good things.

    How do you usually navigate this area?

    • Hi Chioma, great question!

      Sometimes Christians do have a hard time understanding other Christians – after all, we also have – and reflect – a limited understanding of the God that we represent.

      I guess there are two answers to the question. The first is to say that we can try to explain to the best of our ability, but should expect that we might not always be understood. People hear from God in different ways, have different levels of faith, and different levels of understanding.

      The second answer is at a different level. Instead of explaining how God is speaking to us, we can make the point that we all have a limited amount of time on this earth, and so need to prioritize choices about how to spend that time. If you feel like God is telling you to do one thing instead of another, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the other thing is no good – it means it’s not ‘as’ good.

      I hope that helps!

  2. Hi Vicky, I’ve had the very same issues. I am an aspiring graphic designer and when it comes to doing design I’ve realized that just because it’s for a Christian site or group it doesn’t necessarily mean God is involved. But my question is how do I know when God is leading me to do a design? How do I balance it when I’m asked to do a design work for someone?

    • Hi Inioluwa, it’s always nice to hear from fellow Christian artists!

      My guess is that God would expect you to complete most of the jobs given to you if you are walking in his will and he has given you this job. If he doesn’t, he will let you know – you might feel uneasy about a particular client’s work, for example. If you have any doubts, ask God directly. I think it’s a good idea to have a daily practice of submitting everything to God in prayer, asking him to let you know if you need to change your course of action – and then step out and do what you believe is right, being sensitive to his leading, but not hindered by indecision.

      If you happen to agree to do a piece of work for a client and then feel uneasy about it – and this uneasiness persists after prayer – see if you feel more peaceful about the idea of declining the piece of work. It is better to do what you believe is right before God, even if you don’t understand it, than worry about what people think. But do be very gracious and apologetic if you have to pull out, and also be honest – tell them it’s not their fault but that you don’t feel right about continuing with the work – and make sure you compensate them if needed. Having said this, I doubt this circumstance will happen very often or even at all.

      Wishing you all the best with your work as you seek to glorify God in it.

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