for the Creatives

An artist’s call to serve

Last month I wrote a blogpost about what artists have a responsibility to in their art. The trend right now is generally toward the artist’s role in the social justice movement or to using their platform to speak out.

Which is important. But a coworker reminded me that another big part of an artist’s calling is the call to serve. I think of the work of an artist throughout history, of commissions and patronage, of crafting for practical purposes and for communal areas.

Sometimes I see serving and chores synonymously, which is of course a piece of serving. But it’s important to remember the work of service in the artistic field too.

A quick note on valuing your work:

I think there’s a bit of a backlash to that thought sometimes, swinging too far the other direction trying to avoid the “starving artist” mentality and trying to remember our own worth as an artist. But it’s not one or the other: it’s both.

It certainly isn’t becoming a doormat and saying “yes” to every request for free labor that gets thrown your way. And it certainly isn’t throwing out halfhearted work without considering how it’s meeting the needs of the fanbase and how to give back to your community and to the artistic community.

I’m still learning to grasp both concepts tightly instead of leaning on one over the other. Placing value on the work of an artist while also finding ways to serve. That can include both volunteering free labor and also doing the work you’re paid to do with excellence.

Steps to take towards serving through your art:

  1. How are we serving our customers, our communities, our family/friends, and other artists?
  2. What value do we provide?
  3. How do we go above and beyond to care for them?
  4. Where do we sacrifice pieces of ourselves through our craft?

Some of it will be practical chore-like service: preparing a snack for a writers gathering or cleaning up after a paint night or organizing a conference.

Some of it will be serving through art: posting a timely word of encouragement, volunteering to proofread a cousin’s college application, or spending that extra time on worldbuilding for your novel to better entertain the readers who catch tiny details.

Serving comes in many forms, but overflows from a heart set on others. I’m spending time reflecting on that, how I’m currently serving others through art, and how I can continue to serve.

Tell me: In what ways have you seen artists (yourself or others) serving?

for the Creatives

The obligation of an artist

I’ve been pondering the role of an artist, what our responsibility is and what can depend on our brand. What qualifies as our role and what is “out of our lane”. I don’t have that all figured out, and it may be more subjective than all this, but here’s where I’m at right now:


“Shut up and sing,” they say. “Stay in your lane. Leave politics to the politicians. Your education, your skillset is merely the creation of an aesthetic piece.”

But you know. You know your education is more than the word on the page, the brush on the canvas, the graceful movement or theatrical quip, more than the combination of melody and harmony.

Your skillset is in the human condition, the myriad of stories and moments and emotions and experiences and struggles that make a life. It bleeds into your art, your life, your politics, your values. There is no separation. And as an expert on the human condition, your voice matters.

  • We have an obligation to speak from where we’ve come, where we are, where we’re going.
  • We have an obligation to listen.
  • We have an obligation to represent the diversity and the variety of the world around us.
  • We have an obligation to amplify marginalized voices.
  • We have an obligation to speak for justice, for life, for humanity. To speak for the vulnerable and overlooked. To represent without exploiting their story for our own gain.
  • We have an obligation to challenge. To guide, to push, to disturb the status quo.
  • We have an obligation to truth, in both fiction and nonfiction.

I’m still learning. I’m still learning what this looks like for artists in general and for me specifically. I’d love to hear your thoughts. What is the role of an artist? Where do they fit in society beyond entertainment?

for the Creatives

Should You Quit Your Job? or, Walking with Destiny

I had the privilege of hearing Brian Fenimore from Plumbline Ministries speak on Destiny this past weekend. I highly recommend purchasing his series here. Whether you aren’t sure what your destiny is, or whether you know and are looking for practical and spiritual steps to carry it out, this teaching is for you.

Something I learned:

No more excuses!

Culture teaches us that our destiny is to work really hard now to save up money so we can do nothing at the end of our life.

God’s destiny has nothing to do with doing nothing though. Or with working nonstop to get there.

When God calls to a task, we can often think we have to wait until we have the money or resources to get there. But that’s not how the heavenly  bank account works. We step out in obedience, then God provides what is needed for it.

How this applies to me:

I’ve been living as if someday in the distant unforeseeable future, I will be an author. When I have the capacity to dedicate more time to my writing. Until then, I write here and there to keep myself going, but I’m just in the “waiting room” of life for my destiny to start. That’s how I’ve been living. Is that truth? No.

God has called me to write now (hooray for puns!) Not later. No more excuses.

Am I quitting my job? (and here, Red Crossers across the region are hyperventilating.) Funny thing about destiny: it’s not a job, or a hobby, or bound by any circumstance for that matter. Red Cross isn’t just my day job or my source of income or my “waiting room.” It’s my destiny too. I’m not called to be an author. And I’m not called to be an executive assistant. I really don’t have the full picture of my destiny, but I do know this part: I am called to empower others to walk in their callings. That’s why my dream job is to be a copyeditor. That’s why I usually am thrilled to have a Red Crosser come to me because the copier is jammed or a package needs shipped or the heater is broken. That’s why I love learning new random things that can one day be used to activate others. So in this moment, Red Cross is my calling just as writing is my calling. Big sigh of relief.

Just for Fun!

Hey, lookey what I found. Rachelle Dekker recently had this guestpost on the topic of priorities. No more excuses about not having time because you’re too busy [insert important or not-so-important alternative here.]

What About You?

Do you know what your destiny is?

Should you quit your job?

Do share below, I’d love to hear about you 🙂