Part 2: What’s God Got to Do With It? Motivation Matters

In the first part of this series, we talked about our identity in Christ and how that relates to our gifts. When Jesus died on the cross, it was to buy us back from the curse of sin. When we chose to follow Him, we became God’s children and committed our lives to His service. The Holy Spirit enables us to walk with God and empowers us to fulfill our life’s mission until the day we pass on. That’s the general purpose for our earthly existence. How we live that out on a daily basis, including the expression of our creative calling, needs closer inspection.

At the opening of this series I’d asked:  Why do we create? There are a ton of reasons, but it’s likely that when we examine them, our main motivation will have something to do with us.

‘I love to write/sing/dance…’

‘I just can’t help composing/singing/writing…’

‘Art is who I am…’

‘I’d go nuts if I couldn’t express myself…’

Etc.

Notice the ‘I’ in those statements?

 

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Is it wrong to find pleasure in our gifts? I don’t think so. God loves us and He wants us to be happy. But, I think it’s important to note that God is the true source of our peace and joy and that any other source will be incomplete and, ultimately, unsatisfying.

 

Galatians 5:22-23  (NIV)

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

 

Unconvinced? Well, here are a few questions to consider. What happens when you don’t sell many books? Or the post you spent ages writing for your blog doesn’t get any likes? Or your book proposal is refused, or your song rejected by a producer?

What about the time spent away from your family and the money wasted on products or services that failed to deliver?

What about those feelings of loneliness or confusion when nothing works?

What about when your dream fails?

Do you get angry? Bitter? Are you exhausted? Anxious?

Are you disappointed in God?

 

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In case you’re wondering, I’ve been there. It’s humbling to admit, but it would be wrong of me to pretend otherwise. I’ve seen my dreams melt away, I’ve sacrificed time and money only to see nothing come of it. I’ve cried out to God asking, ‘Why?’, as recently as a few days ago.

And the answer has consistently been: ‘Look up. Deny yourself, and follow Me.’

I thought I was humble. I thought I was submitting myself to His will and doing everything right. It was only when everything ground to a halt and I had nothing going for me that I could see how much of my self-worth was tied to needing to succeed. Once it was just me and God, I could begin to see that I am who I am because of Him. Jesus is my righteousness. If I never write another book or blog post again, if this blog fails or I never score that big book deal, or whatever, He’ll accept me just as I am.

He accepts you just as you are, too.

If you are tired, overworked, frustrated, anxious—ultimately disappointed in God, ask ourself why. Rejection and failure hurt, sure. It sucks to be mentally and emotionally drained from going full-tilt for so long. But, listen. This is the time to throw yourself at the foot of the cross and ask God for help. 

 

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Here are two points to reflect on:

We run into trouble when we think that success is the result of our efforts

We are called to work. We are called to be  good stewards of our gifts. And know that we are accountable to Him for how we use them. (Matthew 25:14-30, parable of the talents)

But, we have to remember that God is in control and, if we let Him, He will see to everything, including the results. The moment we let our identity and sense of well-being depend on the results of our work or efforts, we’re in trouble.

We run into trouble when we don’t fully submit to the Lord

This is an ongoing, daily process. It is also impossible to do on our own. But with God’s help, we can.

James 4:7 (NIV)

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

 

The importance of submitting our motivations to God has become increasingly clear to me. We might want to do good by reaching tons of people for His kingdom, create programs, build incredible ministries, but if there is any self-indulging or self-pleasing motivations involved, our plans are in danger because it opens the door for pride.

Psalm 147:6 (NKJV)

The Lord lifts up the humble;
He casts the wicked down to the ground.

 

So, how does that affect us?

If you are stuggling to hear from God, find that your ministry has stalled, feel stuck, lost or confused, then maybe this is His way of getting your attention. I know this has been true for me. The more I submit to His correction and discipline, the more I discover His grace, wisdom, and kindness. God sees everything, including the incoming roadblocks and the weaknesses in our character, and He deals with us in accordance to His love and wisdom.

God is concerned about our success but even more so about our well-being and our relationship with Him. When we walk with Him, our lives will become the greatest testimonies of His greatness, and the works our our hands the physical manifestation of that truth.

Here are a few verses that have helped me :

James 4:3 (NIV)

When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

 Mark 14:38

“Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

 Isaiah 55:11 (NIV)

 11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
    It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
    and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

I’d like to know what you think. Can you relate? How have you coped with disappointment, overwork, stress, etc? What verses encourage you? What lessons have you learned through your creative challenges? Let me know by leaving a message below!

Blessings!

–Delia

Part 1: What’s God Got To Do With It? Finding the Purpose of our Gifts

Why do we create?

Do we create because we are inspired by an inherent urge to make something? Is it to scratch a creative itch that won’t go away until we put pen to paper or our fingers on a guitar’s strings?

Why do we jerk awake in the middle of the night, wiping sleep from our eyes, to frantically jot down lyrics we struggled to put together during the day?

Why do we fantastize about worlds, peoples, and languages that only exhist in our minds until we transcribe them on paper or produce them into a film?

We do this because we were built to create.

 

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Creating isn’t just one thing. A builder creates when he puts form and structure to an architect’s plans. A chef creates, using smell, taste, and skill to whip up incredible and unique dishes. Gardeners create when they sow and tend seeds until they become an array of fragrant, colourful plants and trees. We all create to some extent—I think it’s important to recognize that ‘creating’ comes in many, often unrecognized and undervalued, forms.

On this blog, we usually use the term to refer to artists; people who take their passion, skills, and talents to create some form of art, perfecting our abilities and creations because we feel that it is something we must do—even if we don’t gain recognition or rewards for our efforts.    

The act of creating causes us to feel free, happy, and fuilfilled. There’s a sort of high that comes over us after struggling to bring an idea to life and then holding the result in our hands.

We create because we love it.

And we create because it gives us a sense of purpose.

Think about that for a minute. How do you feel after you complete a story, a book, an article, or a song? How do you express it?

I think God felt similarly at the end of a busy 6 days. He probably felt a sense of accomplishment, satisfaction, and joy. He looked at the universe, the earth, and everything in it and concluded, ‘it was good’. (Genesis 1:31)

 

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We shouldn’t be surprised by this incredible connection to Him. He made us in His image, after all, and He is the Ultimate and Orginal Creator.

So, if He created us to create, what is the purpose for our creations?

Identity 

In this crazy, busy, noisy world, it’s easy to forget that we were created by God for God.

Colossians 1:16 (NLT)

‘for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see–such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through him and for him’.

Not only that, but the world’s mentality caters to pleasing and satisfying the individual and our ego: ‘Do what what feels right to you and to heck with everybody else’. When our world view is focused on the Self, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking the world revolves around us, our, wants, our needs, or our purpose.

The truth is the opposite : the world revolves around God. And, guess what? If we claim to be children of God, followers of Christ, redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, then our lives and everything we have belong to Him. Stop there and think about that a moment. Maybe repeat it to yourself a few times. Sometimes the truth needs some time to sink in. Then follow it up with this :

Galatians 2:20 (KJV)

20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

 

Our Lives (and Gifts) Find Purpose in God’s Plan

This is a truth I feel the Lord drilling into my head at the moment, so I share it with all humility and the full knowledge that I haven’t mastered it but am working it out with ‘fear and trembling’ (Phil 2 :12). Just this morning, I was feeling down about my writing career and wondering what good I thought I could do with it, and wondering if it’s all a waste of time. You know, the usual mental attacks that bring us down. But God is faithful. When I decided to turn from my emotions and negative thinking to do what I felt He wanted me to (write this post), I felt my faith being restored, my focus shifting back into place, and joy returning. I guess it’s worth noting that there are times we are called to create even when we don’t want to. But as we will see below, ultimately, we don’t create for ourselves.

Matthew 16:24-26  (ESV) 

24 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever would save his life[a] will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?

 

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This is the key verse for this series, so I hope you hold on to it. It’s easy to feel special and excited when God puts the desire to create in our hearts. And we should feel special! God has chosen us to do something incredible! But that’s the point where Self can trick us into believing that the vision/project/venture has anything to do with us.  

Once we choose to follow Jesus, we are His and the Holy Spirit works out the Father’s master plan in our individual lives to accomplish a goal that has global reach. God loves the world and, though the world rejects Him, He still desires to save it. We can take pleasure in the gifts He has given us but we can’t hold on to them. We must submit them to Him so that He can use them. But guess what? By doing that, He is inviting us to participate in His work—his master plan—with Him!

Ephesians 1 :11-12 

11 In Him also we have received an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His own will, 12 that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, should live for the praise of His glory. 

Ephesians 2:10 

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do

 

Thanks for reading. I hope you stick with me as I go through this process. I intend to keep posting as I work through these complex issues of purpose and identity.

Can you relate? Have you had ups and downs in the pursuit of your creative calling? What has helped get you through? Please comment below.

Please see Part 2 here.

–Delia

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