How does an artist share his faith in a genuine way? How can a singer use her talent as a communicator rather than a performer? Two key elements are a strategic vision and a servant’s heart. First, a strategic vision develops from the artist’s clear idea of the goal that he or she wants to achieve, an idea which then organizes and informs every step toward that goal.
The Bible offers a clear statement of the purpose or goal of every child of God: “As we are going, we are to be making disciples within all different groups of people.” Another way of saying it, “As one who goes in and out of the world every day, you are to be communicating the Good News to all Creation.”
Furthermore, the Bible describes Christians as ambassadors for, or representatives of, Christ. The Bible also instructs believers to have a sincere faith, a faith without pretense. Nowhere, however, does the Bible say that we are to perform our faith, and it certainly does not limit communication of our faith to only a few narrow categories of music or art. “Performance oriented preachers” who attempt to sanctify the performance mode in the name of oratory are no more correct than those attempting to sanctify any other performance mode.
Know this: A Christian’s business—a Christian artist’s business—is communication. Once this understanding is accepted as the basis for ministry and once the self-concept of “performer” is released, the wider the options for ministry will become.
Second, a servant heart is essential to genuine communication of the Gospel. Jesus said, “The greatest among you should be like the youngest and the one who rules like the one who serves . . . I am among you as one who serves.” A servant heart is the essential ingredient for success. But what is “success?”
Society’s definition of success is based on an accumulation of wealth, power, and prestige. In the world of art, for instance, “success” can mean (a) doing music / art all the time; (b) making a living from musical / artistic pursuits; and (c) gaining a reputation (an album, an art show, and a name within the field) from musical or artistic accomplishments.
There is, however, a biblical alternative that stands in sharp contrast to the world’s point of view. Specifically, the Bible teaches that success comes to a person who (a) identifies himself as a servant; (b) gets a job—any job (even Paul, whose God-given assignment was to be the apostle to the Gentiles, got a job making tents. The job undoubtedly enabled him to communicate the Gospel while it allowed him to eat regularly.); and (c) gains a reputation for Christian integrity as he or she exercises various gifts and talents in serving and encouraging others.
Please understand. The message is not that artists who are presently making their full-time living from music should get another job, but too often people decide what they want to do, label it “ministry,” and then spend the rest of their life trying to justify it. In the meantime, several things can happen, especially if they can’t make a decent living in the area of music and the arts.
These people tend to get bitter toward the church for failing to support them on the terms they themselves have set. Consequently, they withdraw their music/art from the family of God and often even end up shelving their potential musical/artistic contributions and nursing all kinds of bitterness and resentment. A servant’s heart that guides one to the goal of communicating rather than merely performing can help you avoid this wasteful consequence.
Remember, however, that although you can perform without communicating, it’s difficult to communicate without giving a good performance. Know, too, that you can entertain without communicating, but it’s very difficult to communicate without being entertaining. Focus on being a servant communicator and God will honor your performance.
Paul Sandberg, a wonderful tenor and a leader of the Haven of Rest radio ministry has long shared with his children the following bit of advice; “Get a normal job and let music fill your life with happiness.” While no piece of advice is for everyone, this counsel may mean for many a new freedom in art and in ministry.
If we release our terms and our demands of God, we will better be able to serve him and others with our music. God will be able to work in our hearts to turn us into servant communicators. Along the way, we will be available for God to use us even more in accomplishing His plans for spreading the Good News of the Gospel.
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