From time immemorial and in every culture, creative work or creativity has always been an object of fascination, both of the created and the creator/creative. In fact, I am of the opinion that the ability to create something is nothing short of grace and grit.
One needs not wonder why this is so, for God blazed the trail of creative work when He conceived the idea of the whole universe. Without any hammer, chisel or other fashioning instrument, but with the words of His mouth ( Genesis 1:1-3, Psalms 148:5), He brought this work of art and science to be. Out of nothing, He created something magnificent (Hebrews 11:3).
Creativity in the Body of Christ
In a time like this, where the influence of the media waxes strong over minds, the body of Christ has never needed more creatives than ever. From lyrics praising depravity to movies decrying sexual innocence, it is obvious that the devil has an “evangelistic” agenda to charm many into his kingdom. And he uses creatives to do so.From lyrics praising depravity to movies decrying sexual innocence, it is obvious that the devil has an "evangelistic" agenda to charm many into his kingdom. And he uses creatives to do so. Click To Tweet
For the sake of clarity, the definition of a creative is someone who possesses and uses his/her mental abilities to produce a masterpiece out of anything. It can be in the area of arts, entertainment, media, literature or even science and technology. People who solve problems with an out-of-the-box approach are also included in this definition.
But first, let’s see if creatives have a place in God’s plan for mankind:
God has always used creatives. In other words, our creative abilities matter to God. Are you creative and have always wondered about your place in the body of Christ? Well, here is your example. In Exodus 31:1-2, we read about a man called Bezalel, who brought into existence the blueprint of God for the Tabernacle. For the first time, we hear about God filling up a man with His Spirit. Isn’t that amazing? The first time we read about man being filled with God’s Spirit, it was for creative work!Isn't that amazing? The first time we read about man being filled with God's Spirit, it was for creative work! Click To Tweet
Although this is the only instance I am aware of in the Bible, it’s good to know that such an example exists at all. I say so because I have met and heard of people who like to attribute any feat (especially creative feat) to the devil. They make statements that suggest that such a creative person must have “sold their soul to the devil” to attain such a great height in their career, as if marvellous things cannot be traced back to God.
While I do not hold the opinion that creative abilities are a ministry in themselves, I do maintain that they can be tools for ministry. Ministry being knowing Christ and making Him known. For example, you can contribute to the act of worship at church by playing an instrument. You can also sing and write gospel centred songs or songs that do not promote sexual depravity. What about lending your writing skills for the creation of tracts and devotionals? The list is endless.
Now back to the subject of grace and grit in creative work:
From the example of Bezalel and Oholiab, it is possible that God gives grace to men, including creatives. “Grace” in this instance refers to abilities and enablement. He gives gifts too, and I would like to believe that they include creative abilities too. After all, the Bible records He has done so once and for a good purpose.From the example of Bezalel and Oholiab, it is possible that God gives grace to men, including creatives. Click To Tweet
So as a creative, don’t be surprised when you see grace coming into play in your work. For example, a writer may find himself writing with so much speed and flow of thoughts that he takes a pause and wonders where the ease emanated from. If he is a believing man, he will attribute it to God. And he will be very correct because God gives grace for work (Deuteronomy 8:17-18).
As a creative person, we encounter many pitfalls and frustration in our work. How delightful will it be to know that God has graced us for the work? In moments of doubts about our abilities, there’s nothing like the pick me up of God’s grace to keep us going and pushing against the mental block in our minds that stand in our way of creating masterpieces.
We have been graced but I daresay we need to put in the work! There’s this track in an album by a rapper, where his fans talked about him putting in the work into his craft. Truth is, the track needn’t be there for one to know that this rapper actually works on his craft. The ease with which he delivers his lines is as smooth as silk.
Yes! God gives grace for the work but we still need to put in the work. Come to think of it, what is grace except for work? Also, let’s not forget that the strength to be gritty is a grace of God in itself so why don’t you use it to develop your craft?
As you burst at the seams with inherent creative insights, you can also learn the theoretical aspects of the work. Materials are available from the internet to glean from. You can find numerous videos on platforms like YouTube teaching how to perfect your shading technique or guitar strumming skills, for example. Better still, you can contribute to the knowledge in your area of creative work.
Sharpen your skills. Think of ways they can be a blessing to others. Use the knowledge you have to impact lives. Convert your skills into valuable products and most of all, make sure it gives glory to God in every ramification.
In understanding the interplay of these two concepts, I reached out to some creative friends of mine. Here’s what they have to say:
Please note that their answers have been lightly edited for clarity sake.
Dera (Singer and Fashion Designer)
This world is very challenging and sometimes you can almost feel the need to give up, especially as a creative person. However, as a believer, the consciousness of knowing that you are never alone makes the difference. The reality that God’s help is available to you builds up courage in you and further inspires you to see the beauty all around you.
The grace of God is sufficient to help you through the tide; it infiltrates your guts and keeps you going. Finally your grits as a creative should be fueled by being conscious that the grace of God is to your advantage.
Oseme (Musician and Painter)
Grit is definitely important in creativity. And most of the time, we need to persevere to bring our creative thought or idea to fruition. Having an idea is not enough. Being determined to see it come out the way you envisioned is key so you can say “this is very good” just like God did. And yes, grace is a key factor in creativity. Exodus 31 speaks on it. I think you can find something there.
As a creative, the place of grit, hardwork and dedication is important. Creativity, in my opinion, is learnt irrespective of the fact that it is personal or subjective in the sense that because of what I like or disposed to, how I will portray something will be different from others. The level of communication or the extent to which I will portray it is as a result of the skills I have harnessed. Therefore, my hardwork and dedication will show in how I intend to communicate.
Temi Popoola (Lawyer and Compere)
When people ask me how I do certain things excellently and I say, “God’s grace”, sometimes they look at me in disbelief and some say “stop being humble. Tell us the truth.” But hey, it’s true. The knowledge of God’s grace is my secret. For example, I became really shy in my first year in the university and I started to meditate on God’s Word about boldness.
I found scriptures that spoke about boldness and they empowered me to speak up even when my voice was shaking. Today, more people probably know me as a speaker than as a lawyer. As I grow, I never ever ever forget my source. I understand that I have an advantage of the leading of the Spirit as a believer which makes a difference.
However, I don’t stop at merely acknowledging God’s grace verbally. He wants me to prosper (3 John 1:2) and His word teaches me to be diligent (Proverbs 22:29) so I endeavor to put in the work.
Bolu Ikuemonisan (Visual Artist and Actor)
Talking about grace when it comes to the creative process reminds me of when I started taking portrait jobs a while back. There were times I would struggle with it… the forms, shape, everything. Sometimes, I would have to start all over again. Then my mum told me that “anytime you want to start your work, just say Holy Spirit, help me, help me to get it right.” At first, I felt like I just had to practice but it got to a point where I just had to ask God to help me get it right especially in the face of looming deadlines.
About the creative process from conception to execution…sometimes it’s an idea, a suggestion, post on Whatsapp, or a biblical text. Sometimes, it is fully formed. There was a time I was praying and it came as an imagination unfolding into visions. Many artists don’t think this way because they have their own schools of thoughts.
There’s also the place of hard work, that is, diligence. It can come in many forms. There’s a place of discipline and exposure. You cannot practice what you don’t know so be exposed. I watch videos, check Instagram pages, read up on other people’s style. Understand that the ability you have can always get better.If we would have a laudable impact in people's lives, we need grace and grit to bring them to fruition. Click To Tweet
Even at that, I tell myself that I have an enabling ability by the Spirit of God. Yes, I can make mistakes. Sometimes, I have artist block but I have learnt to pray under my breath while working.
Just push. Your development will be seen over a period of time. When you look back, you will realise that you have really improved. Yet, hard work cannot take the place of grace. Still, as the Holy Spirit gives the idea, put it to work. Give expressions to them. Practice it like spiritual gifts. The more you use them, the better you get.
Our creativity matters to Christ. According to the author of “Bezalel and the Creative Spirit of God“, one of my favourite Bible reading plan, “Christ-followers must wrestle with a unique tension between “trust and hustle”— on the one hand trusting in God to provide, while on the other hustling to put our God-given energy and skills to work.”
In other words, if we would have a laudable impact in people’s lives, we need grace and grit to bring them to fruition. The world needs our work. We have grace, let’s put in the work.
Hope you learnt something?
Did you enjoy this article, you can also read “Support Christian Creatives; 4 Ways to Start Today” or “Sharing Scriptures: 4 Creative Ways To Do So“