Becoming A Thriving Artist


As you think about your creative work and walk with God, have you ever asked yourself, “What does it take to become a THRIVING artist?” How does an artist thrive personally, professionally and spiritually? It’s been a question that’s been muddling around in my mind a lot the past month. The Lord keeps impressing on my heart the word… thrive.

It’s one thing to be alive. It’s a whole other thing to thrive. In the 12 acre organic lemon and avocado grove I work and oversee, there are parts of the grove that are healthy and thriving. Lots of fruit everywhere. There are also definitely parts that are not thriving. The lower portion of the grove is susceptible to freezes in the winter, killing off our avocado trees. In other parts of the grove, we have squatty, bare, anemic-looking lemon trees that resemble Charlie Brown Christmas trees. If you want to thrive, read on…

It wasn’t until I became a farmer that I learned the real reason that Jesus cursed the barren fig tree…

You’re sucking up water! Wasting precious resources! Producing nothing. Costing some poor farmer fertilizer, skyrocketing water bills, and grove consultant fees…curse ye!

Okay, so I’m being a bit melodramatic, but you’d feel the same way if you had a $3,000 water bill and your trees produced no fruit.

So what does it take to becoming a thriving artist?

Learning how to thrive is going to look a bit different for every artist and creative. And let’s make this point very clear: Thriving is not always being fruitful. Every grove, orchard or field has a summer, fall, winter, and spring. As my good friend and co-worker Roy Cochran says, “Thriving is abiding.”

We thrive as we abide in Christ.

John 15 is more about love and relationship with God than more of the doing, doing, doing hyper-activity we see in so many churches today… what we think leads to “fruitfulness”. Abiding eventually produces fruit, but just as God did not intend for trees to bear fruit 365 days a year, He doesn’t get too nervous in the difficult summers of heat-bearing trials or the dead winters of our lives.

So, I’m not going to offer you a stock definition, 3 points and a prayer about what it means to thrive as an artist, but I am going to offer you a few thoughts and ideas. Just like growing a vineyard or any kind of agriculture requires the necessary elements of sun, water, good soil and nutrients, there are a number of common elements that can help us grow in our journey of becoming thriving artists. Over the next week or so, I’m going to throw out some ideas what these elements might look like and I hope you’ll join me in this conversation.

I’d first like to offer you a portion of scripture I’ve been reflecting and praying about for the past month…like a juicy, sweet orange from our grove, there is so much to enjoy in this bite-sized bit of scripture to savor. From Psalm 52:8-9…

But I am like an olive tree, thriving in the house of God.
I will always trust in God’s unfailing love.
I will praise you forever, O God,
for what you have done.
I will trust in your good name
in the presence of your faithful people.

For me, trusting in God’s unfailing love is deeply connected to thriving. I have much more to say about this… I’m sure you do as well…

(Artist credit: Sunflowers by Jon Detweiler.)

Questions: What helps you thrive as an artist? What practices do you have personally, professionally, and spiritually that help you thrive?

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You’re personally invited to join me next week on Thursday, October 31 (noon-PST, 3pm EST) for our phone and online class Becoming A Thriving Artist sponsored by The Grove Center for the Arts & Media. If you can’t attend, the class will be recorded so you can listen later. Click here for more details.

If there is one book that has really help me thrive in my relationship with God, it is The Gift of Being Yourself by David G. Benner. I can’t say enough good things about it! (Amazon Affiliate link. Your purchase helps support the Art, Life & Faith blog.)

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