“Use your gifts for the Kingdom.”
“God gave you talents so that you can glorify Him with them.”
“Let the Lord use your talents for His purposes.”
Since I was little, I have heard statements like these and wondered, “How?”
You see, I am an artist.
I paint, draw, sketch…and I know that it is my gift.
In school, I was recognized and promoted for my talent, winning awards above and beyond my age levels. In college, I excelled and grew to new heights with my abilities and was well known for my work. But in church? Nothing. The only gifts that appeared valuable there were worship, music, or working with kids. I am not musical. I can’t read music or play an instrument. I only sing in the shower or in my car by myself. Kids are fine, but for short period of time. I began thinking, “Why does art matter? What good is it anyway? Why would I have a gift that I couldn’t do anything with?”
I began thinking, “Why does art matter? What good is it anyway? Why would I have a gift that I couldn’t do anything with?”
If people did acknowledge my gift, they would ask, “How are you using that for the Lord?” My answer was always that I wasn’t sure, which would inevitably lead to a response like, “Well, make sure you use it to glorify the Lord!” What does that even mean? Does it mean I only draw ‘Christian’ things like doves and scenes from Bible stories or write motivational verses? Tried that, not really my niche.
Frustration mounted over the years as I couldn’t understand how my ability was a viable gift that could be used in any way within my faith. So, I gave it up. I stopped painting and I stopped drawing, except for the rare sketch in my journal, which no one could see. I hid my artistic ability. I didn’t want anyone to know because I was afraid they would ask me the same questions I had constantly been asked before and never had the answers to.
Recently, although my artistic ability had been more or less successfully buried for several years, God began to dig it up. People constantly came up to me with words from the Lord saying I had a gift I was letting die and I needed to pick it up again and use it for the Lord. Finally, purely out of frustration, I went to the Lord for answers and what He shared with me has transformed the way I see art as a believer.
I had an open and raw moment with God.
I told Him I didn’t see my gift as useful and asked him questions like, “What good was art in religion? As a missionary, how does art help advance the gospel in the world? Why do you keep pressing me to pick it up again when I can’t see how it matters? Who is the author of beauty?” “Do you think beauty matters to me?,” He responded. “Beauty is a part of who I am and I want it represented in my Kingdom.”
Not all gifts only advance the Gospel to places it has never been. Some gifts enhance the kingdom where the Gospel already is, bringing a depth and a fullness that would be missing without them. One type is not more important or more valuable than the other. Both are necessary to complete the integration of the Kingdom of God.
Some gifts enhance the kingdom where the Gospel already is, bringing a depth and a fullness that would be missing without them.
Through my questioning, I saw His love for beauty.
God is the author and originator of beauty, the original Artist, the Creator of everything we see and don’t see. His love for beauty is all around us: from the colorful flowers, to the grandest mountains, to the diversity of humanity created in His image. This beauty, this ability and desire to create, must also be present in His Kingdom. He has given me a small piece of that part of Himself. I have been given the gift of creativity. I have the ability to make and bring beauty to a place where it was lacking before.
Beauty reflects the Creator, and art can help others to see Him in a way they may not have been able to see Him before. Beauty is necessary to understand God because it is an inescapable part of who He is.
That means, art matters.
Kelly’s tiny hometown isn’t on most maps, but she swears it’s an actual place and we’ve decided to believe her. Kelly pours her creativity into painting, cooking, exploring the outdoors, and the thousands of ways she styles her hair. She loves Jesus and it’s obvious; it’s also clear that she was born to lead others in following him. Kelly’s passionate about helping women find their true value, and she does that right here with students in our training schools and around the world with our outreach teams.