I’m gonna confess something to all of you. Up till not long ago, I feel like my motives for creating awesome content were laced with ill intentions.
I didn’t know it. I was so used to operating in that way that it became so natural to me.
I even had justifications for what I do. It would sound along the lines of “expressing my real self” or “doing this to educate the community”. And these sound perfectly great reasons to create. If only they were true.
At a very young age I realised that it was much easier to create when you are angry or hurt. I call it “catharsis”. It just explodes out of you into beautiful works of art. You would say that this is how so much beautiful art is created in history all around the world. People feel the vulnerable and raw emotions of the artist. It’s real. Hence, it is beautiful and impactful.
And I don’t think that is actually wrong. Please, by all means, create from a space of honesty.
But as a Christian, I also had more to think about. Such as my responsibility as a creative.
My Nasty Motives, Unveiled.
My Nasty Motives, Unveiled.When the COVID-19 pandemic forced us to practice safe distancing by staying home more often, I initially jumped at the opportunity of creating more. I foresaw a lot of space to be creative. However, I felt no grace from the Lord to do so… so I allowed myself to slow down on my intended activities.
Over this same period, I began to face many situations that made me want to impulsively create. It would be either in the form of a video that displayed my knowhow or talents, or a piece of writing that expressed some form of injustice I was feeling in my heart. At the same time, the Holy Spirit began to prompt me to examine my reasons for wanting to do all of this. In this space of pause and pondering, I was horrified to realise the truth of my intentions…
For a long time, I had found myself feeling dissatisfied every time I create a certain piece of content: “Why aren’t people responding with likes and comments and purchases?” I used to dismiss this as my community being “stiff-necked” and not ready to receive my “bold content”. Then the Lord simply showed me that I was just resentful because I wasn’t getting the human clout that I had been craving for.
Then on another day, a misunderstanding with someone via a text conversation left me reeling with hurt and anger. I felt unheard and misunderstood. My first instinct was to open up my Evernote app and write an educational, inspiring article about certain values and issues that I felt the person had overlooked. The Holy Spirit stopped me short and revealed my self-righteousness. Underneath it, was my hurt. I was not writing to inspire or educate others. I was writing as an indirect “get back at you/religious version of a middle finger” cry to that person who had misunderstood me. I was actually very wounded; my true words were, “Why didn’t you hear my heart and honour what I was feeling?”
It was the first time I saw my “creative inspiration” for what it really was. And guess what… so much of my former writing and creative content had been built on this “inspiration”. I had been building my creative legacy on countless “religious middle fingers”.
This hard truth hit me deep in my gut.
So, Is it All Halos & Pleasantries, or Nothing at All?
I now understood the need to pause and slow down in my creative process. God was not telling me, “Don’t create”. Instead, He was telling me, “Really search your heart and its motives before you get to creating.” He was reminding me that as a Christian and a Kingdom creative, I have a responsibility to accurately release His heart to the world. But imagine the toxicity I release every time I produce creative work from a heart of pride, self-glorification, bitterness, unforgiveness, and hurt. I cannot take this lightly.
“So, does every piece of creative content need to look church-friendly, filled with pleasantries, smiling faces, decent, well-dressed and well-behaved… contained?” I hear you ask (in disdain).
Now, I want to say it’s not wrong to want to vent and be cathartic with emotions every now and then. But there’s a journal for that… And close friends and accountability buddies… And the secret place with God.
Also, it’s okay to release creative work that expresses anger and pain. Think of Jesus upsetting the tables in the temple; it came from a place of righteous and holy anger. Think about King David, who in numerous psalms, protested unto the Lord, asking Him to destroy his enemies – but the psalm always rounded back to David giving God the due glory, and saying, “Nevertheless, I will trust in You.” Think about Job, cursing the day he was born for an entire chapter, but then finding resolution and restoration with His creator.
As His creative ambassadors, we should be expressing our indignation for things that are not right. That carries the Father’s heart indeed. He is concerned and will not sit around when things are unjust and completely wrong.
But God’s heart of justice never leads into condemnation, self-righteousness, or “not good enough”s. It will be vital to discern the difference.
Presenting… The Heart Checklist for Christian Creatives.
I created this to keep myself in check, prior to any creative initiative I want to embark on. The Lord knows I am forgetful, and this needs to be readily available during moments when it is easy to slide into self-deception.
With that said, I know that I am not the only one who struggles to find the balance in how I express myself creatively, and I think it could be helpful to all of us as we journey along as His evangelists and ambassadors.
Feel free to use it for yourself, and share it with others who might need it! Also, is there some other point that you feel could be added to this list? Let me know, and I’ll make updates along the way.