Part 2: To the Artists
I’ve always been a creative type. My earliest memories are of writing, drawing, and imagining myself as a hero in epic stories. I love the arts and believe that imaginative, creative ability is a gift from God and can be used in amazing ways. I love my fellow artists, be they Christians or non-Christians, and I pray for their creative energy and inspiration to flow. It’s been a joy to connect with the Realm Makers tribe and to offer a scholarship to this year’s conference through Endless Press—one of my great passions in life is to help others see their dreams come to pass.
A few weeks ago, as I was preparing to write these articles, I asked the following question in the Realm Makers Consortium Facebook Group: How would you characterize your relationship with the leadership at your church?
I received many responses, and had some excellent discussions with folks, but the real goal of my question was to see what people focused on in terms of their relationships with church leadership. Out of 38 first-comments (not replies to comments, and I excluded a few from the total for various reasons), here’s the breakdown:
63% described the relationship exclusively in terms of what they received (or did not receive) from the relationship.
32% described the relationship in terms of both what they received and what they gave into the relationship.
5% described the relationship exclusively in terms of what they gave into the relationship.
As creative types we tend to put a lot of focus on how people respond to our work. And how could we not? We pour our heart and soul into creating a story, painting, or piece of music—these things are coaxed and forged from our blood, sweat, and tears. However, we thus easily attach our value as people to the reception of our work: If our work is valued then we are valuable; if our work is not then we are not. It’s a subtle trap that can cause us to put too high a value on external validation, and can dash us upon the rocks when we do not receive it in the amount we wish.
This issue is further exacerbated if we have anything in our past which causes us trouble in relating to those in authority, which most people do. We’ve all been hurt or disappointed by someone in a position of authority at some point in our lives. When that happens, it is extremely easy to develop ingrained attitudes which cause us to project qualities onto other authorities that they do not necessarily possess.
I spend a lot of time meeting with pastors, priests, and church leaders of various denominations. I have yet to meet one that does not care about the people in their congregation. Many of them are just trying to “keep their head above water” as they manage all of their responsibilities. When you are in a position of authority, you spend the majority of your time addressing problems that you did not create, and doing your best to triage them into categories of imminent need.
In most cases, if a leader isn’t supporting someone in a particular endeavor, whatever it may be, it is not because they don’t care—it is because they are either unaware of how important it is to the person or are bogged down with other responsibilities. I don’t say this as an excuse to ignore those for whom leaders are responsible, but just to give a window into their world and take some of the sting out of what may feel like deliberate slights or disinterest.
If you want to have a good relationship with church leadership, my advice is to pray for them. Pray for their mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual health. Pray for their families. Pray they would find extra time in their day to do all they are called to do. Ask God what you can do to support them, and when he tells you something: Do it. (This includes praying for Realm Makers leadership, too.)
The other thing to remember is that although your work is an expression of who you are, it is not all of who you are. You are so much more. You are a son or daughter of your Father in Heaven, made in his image. His love for you, acceptance of you, and the infinite value he places on you are all products of who he is and who you are to him—not products of what you do. Embrace your gift as a celebration of the giver, just as he celebrates you by giving it.
Pastor, Author, Nerd – Bill Beck serves as the lead pastor at Spring City Fellowship. He is the author of I Needed More and the children’s picture book The Clockwork Man.Bill also owns and operates Endless Press, a small, independent publishing company, and serves as the president of the Spring-Ford Pastors Association. He lives in Spring City, Pennsylvania with his wife, Krisie, their six children, and assorted pets.
He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org