By Calvin Hong & Shawn Wong
If you’re a leader in any capacity - in church, a company, your family - you’d have probably found out that leadership is an art. A leader requires flexibility, sensitivity, courage, and innovation, among other qualities, in order to be effective.
In a creative environment, there are challenges that present themselves perhaps more frequently and overtly than usual. Some examples are a critical spirit, pride, perfectionism, and an ‘orphan’ mindset. All these stem from how each person answers this question: “Who am I?” Basically, IDENTITY - the fundamental bedrock that determines not just how effective we are, but every aspect of how we live life.
As leaders at Awaken Generation, our whole role is to nurture creatives, and we get plenty of opportunities to do so with our songwriters, singers, musicians, and dancers. I believe leaders are often too quick to pass judgment on creatives, that they are too ‘emo’ or ‘edgy’ to pastor. The quickest solution becomes to typecast them, rather than get in the thick of it and help them to discover who they truly are. Leaders are often too quick to correct the ‘expression’ rather than to take time to call out their identity. Remember, it’s out of identity that creative expression flows.
In pastoring creatives, it’s important that we recognise their gifts, but at the same time learn to work with their hearts. So as leaders, the very first heart-journey we must take with them is their path of identity.
Oftentimes creatives rely on their talents to prove themselves, but we need to help them express themselves from a place of knowing they are children of God. Why is this important? Because their talents don’t determine their worth; instead, their identity in God does. Once they have grasped this truth, transformation will happen, not just in their art or work, but in the way they live their lives.
It’s usually the ‘orphan’ mindset that causes this insecurity; this mindset tells us that there’s not enough recognition to go around, and we always have to one-up ourselves and others to be appreciated, approved of, and loved. The problem is that orphans turn to the wrong source when they should be looking to God. This ‘one-upping’ game never really ends - orphans will remain orphans until they find their identity in the Father.
Many creatives may find their value in the ‘quality’ of the art they create. But if we base our value on circumstances or what others say or think, we’ll always be disappointed, because these are fleeting and unstable. However, God never changes; He is the one constant, the fixed point. Likewise, our identity, rooted in Him, never changes - that is the most reliable basis of our value and self-worth.
Bill Johnson (Bethel Church) once said, “If you live by man’s praises, you will die by their criticisms.” Delicious food for thought!