Finding Your Creative Identity

“Imagine what it would be like to not have any fear over what your audience thinks about your art. The kinds of things that are possible when you can do things in a fearless way. God offers that to us, because his acceptance is unconditional. And that includes the acceptance of our art.”

The following are some excerpts from a delightful podcast interview I had with Lara and Andrew Pilcher of London-based Artists House International (AHI), a not-for-profit that uses the tool of creativity to help transform lives, form global community and capture the global voice of believer artists.

To hear the entire conversation on “Finding Your Creative Identity,” you can click the link HERE and listen on Spotify.

Lara:  How do you get true praise out of creatives? It’s such a self-absorbed art form, because its performance based for most of us. What is the wisdom that you’ve learned on that?

Manuel:  The truth of the matter is, I’ve never had a completely honorable motivation in my life. Everything I’ve ever done in my life has had mixed motives. The problem with artists of faith is that we aren’t in touch with that. We have this tremendous capacity to fool ourselves, into thinking we are better than we are, are not as good as we are, or are worse than we are. So we don’t have a proper understanding of who we are before the Lord.

God loves us in ways that we don’t even understand. And so Honest Worship is an attempt to help people understand who we truly are before the Lord. And to get into the details of what has distorted our souls. We talk about spiritual formation. We can’t have spiritual formation unless we first understand that we are spiritually de-formed. We are spiritually deformed because our souls have been taught and fed lies about who we are—our dysfunctions, our family of origin issues, the way we see ourselves.

Lara:  You were sharing with us earlier, like when a child shares a piece of art and you put it on the fridge, and you don’t do it necessarily because it’s excellent art, but you do it because you want to show them love, that you love them and you’re proud of them. How does that picture apply to creatives?

Manuel:  I actually have a drawer. It’s my sock drawer, and at the bottom of my sock drawer I have a bunch of crayon drawings from all four of my children. I’ll probably bring them out when their kids are older. But the whole point is that we cherish these drawings not because it’s excellent art, but because it is a true expression of the artist, in this particular instance, it’s my children. It’s a reflection of who they are. And I think God is the same way with us.

Not everything we give God is going to be amazing. But it doesn’t matter. If we’re doing our best and it truly reflects how we feel and who we are in Him, we’re putting a smile on His face, and He loves it. I’ve spent a whole lot of my life trying to impress God, and I’ve never been able to do it. And then I realize, I don’t have to. Because He loves us anyway. He loves us in ways that we don’t even understand, and in depths which we can’t even fathom.

For us, it’s still important as artists of faith to do the very best that we can—to use all ten talents, all the talents He’s given us—and strive towards excellence. But we strive towards excellence not because it’s a reflection of who we are, or some weird, distorted thing—that we’re trying to get acceptance or approval from our peers or from an audience—but because it simply puts a smile on God’s face.

If we could truly understand that, and live that out, in our art and in our faith. Imagine what it would be like to not have any fear over what your audience thinks about your art. The kinds of things that are possible when you can do things in a fearless way.

Lara:  That would be awesome.

Manuel:  God offers that to us, because his acceptance is unconditional. And that includes the acceptance of our art.

Lara:  That’s really, really precious, and something I want to move toward in my own creativity.

Manuel:  Well, I’m still in process too.

Lara:  Yes, it is a process, isn’t it!

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