Setting Boundaries

Setting boundaries may not seem important and yet is vital for every Christian artist eager to serve the Lord in their chosen creative medium. I'll readily admit that I did so  rather reluctantly at first.  Yet from the Bible I've learned that willingness is every bit as important to God as our service itself. Besides, when I discovered that maintaining an attitude of willingness came with a delicious reward, I became willing in a hurry!

"If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land;" Isa 1:19

Contrary to what you may be thinking, setting boundaries while setting goals has nothing to do with protecting myself from any outside threat. In the context as I describe it, the only threat in the setting of these boundaries, was unfortunately, my own self-will!

There is a battle to be fought. I learned far too slowly, that it is a fierce war between making things happen by my own considerable effort, and allowing God to work circumstances out to His satisfaction. Somehow God's work in, and through me, seemed to take a whole lot longer than I would have preferred!

This battle required hard work on my part, but by setting boundaries I discovered the safety of working within a clearly delineated domain that God approved of. God expected me to work vigorously and successfully within these boundaries. But when I stepped outside, I was aware that I was treading on dangerous ground.

This boundary was an imaginary line defining a specific territory, beyond which I dared not venture. I also learned to jealously guard everything within that boundary.

What is within, is important for fulfilling your call as a Christian artist. There you guard your time spent creating art, strive for excellence... But what is outside that boundary if you venture there, can delay, cripple or even derail your God given potential.

Within the boundary, goals can be set to keep you producing wonderful art, growing in excellence and skill. To read more about how to set those goals, click here. But be aware of what is outside and tread with caution.

As I grew skilled in art, I am ashamed to say that something else grew with it. It was the overwhelming desire for affirmation. Having observed other artists, I know that I am not alone in this tendency.

It begins harmlessly enough. We bask in the praise of others and trade our innocent satisfaction at work well done, for something more deadly – the urgent and pressing need for approval.

This is the danger that can completely derail our initial best intentions. The change in my objectives and motives crept up so gradually, that I missed its cues many times.

It doesn’t take much to switch from pleasing God to pleasing others, or even yourself. In the guise of normal ambition, all too often self-will and pride can rear its ugly head.

The only way to be on guard against its insidious power, is to set bold and immovable boundaries.

Setting boundaries involves staunchly predetermining some radical action:

• Decide that God alone will initiate your work.

• Decide that He alone will guide you into all opportunities for displaying, exhibiting or distributing your work.

Do I really believe that it is possible to do that? Absolutely! All it took was believing this promise from God.

"I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye." PS 32:8

I took this radical step of trusting God to guide me in all aspects of the making of art and it became a wonderful adventure. It released me from the stress associated with looking for venues to show my work or the urgency of requiring a continuous stream of sales.

When God opened a door, as soon as I was certain it was Him, I stepped in. Viewing the progress in my art within these boundaries, keeps me wary of the vanity of seeking prominence, fame and curatorial kudos from the art police at galleries and jurors.

Instead I voluntarily placed myself under His leadership. I discovered that His desire was not to remove me from the art world, but to strategically position me where He felt I would be effective. His plans for my work are often unclear, yet when I catch just a glimpse of them in the response of those who eventually purchase my work, I sense that I can truly trust Him with all that seems cloudy at the moment. Our art does indeed serve a purpose which may not always be immediately apparent. That is when trusting God is our response of faith.

And now, I encourage you to do the same.

This choice will put a sizzle of excitement in your life that cannot be matched.

At His leading, you may be called to participate in some shows, stay away from others, exhibit in a certain venue, or not exhibit at all for a season….

You will work hard at your art, but you will no longer be subject to the current art authorities, or even your peers for validation. In due season you will be amazed at the opportunities that God will bring your way.

If I were teaching you about swimming, and you never got into deep waters, you could not fully comprehend what I was talking about. This new adventure can also only be experienced, when you plan on setting these boundaries, as part of your goal setting activity. Being hemmed in by God is a blessing that will take time, discipline and patience to experience.

Will you allow this lesson on setting boundaries to be a practical nudge to join me in this adventure?

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