In the fight for creative integrity, you cannot give in. However, I often hear about creatives losing their motivation, drive and ambition. And usually due to a situation or circumstance that left them feeling doubtful, degraded or disrespected. So, how do you avoid being hurt and discouraged? What is the secret to always being on? How do you endure hardship in your creativity? What should you do to stay unique and innovative?
The Meaning of Creative Integrity
Stay true to your artform and your craft: find your voice, know your audience, and join the two together in relationship. A relationship thrives when it’s two-sided; there has to be “call and answer” and “give and take” from both sides.
As creatives, we need to recognize the power and responsibility we have to wield our creative weapons. You can reap an emotion, build awareness, and sway someone’s decision with a note, a brush stroke, a sentence, a recipe, or with movement. I’m probably missing out on at least a dozen more creative examples to move someone’s heart or change their mind. Don’t be fickle or reckless with this responsibility. After all, we mustn’t confuse people by being frivolous in creation and not taking what you do seriously. The moment you aren’t intentional is the moment you seal the demise of your creation. Without a clear purpose, you simply cannot survive or thrive.
Furthermore, integrity in creativity is about being devoted and faithful– You must show up as consistently as possible. Even the best “planners” will deal with a bump in the road, or a detour. Life happens, and you need to make a choice: you can retreat or you can cross the river of no turning back. If your purpose or cause isn’t worth the charge, then the battle is lost before it begins.
You Win with Trust and Confidence
For example, I remember being asked about the degree I was seeking in college. At the time, I had already obtained my Graphic Design degree, and I was concentrating on Photography. “Well, don’t you just push a button?” was the sentence that severed a nerve in my soul, and it took me quite some time to recover from that wound.
There are two traits all creative people need to possess, besides talents and giftings— trust and confidence. Trust and confidence are like a sword and shield: these two qualities provide the protection you need to deflect and fight against hurt and discouragement. Had I learned about the importance of these qualities sooner in my creative career, I could have avoided the pain and infliction of unwelcome opinions. As well as the hurtful lies I was told in past years about my abilities and accomplishments.
Why Trust Is Important for Protection
Trust is the product of continual proof. If you practice creating and doing, you get better. Producing more becomes natural and you trust yourself to do so more. By asking someone to give you an opinion or critique, you invite them to prove they can be trusted. When you show up consistently to spend quiet-time with God, you are showing him that he can trust you with what he has to speak to your heart of hearts. Trust is so important to practice in life, and it is earned over time by showing consistency and by being faithful.
Confidence: A Vital Weapon
When is the last time someone who oozed of confidence greatly impressed you? Was it intoxicating? Did you want to spend more time with that person? Confidence has the ability to make you feel like a superhero. It will destroy the nastiest of perspectives and opinions aimed at you.
Think about a time someone offered you an unsolicited suggestion, and it stopped you dead in your tracks.. Or do you remember a moment a person blurted out an opinion about you and your creativity, and your creative life came to a screeching halt? What feelings followed after that circumstance? How did it alter your course? When the dust settled, was it effective in deterring you from your goal? If so, what could have accomplished if you would have ignored it altogether, or if you continued to get better instead of quitting? Do you think it would be worth it to pick up where you left off and try again now?
Confidence hears an opinion or a suggestion, faces it and says, “I need to see the truth for myself and on my terms.” It is the weapon you need in order to fight to keep your creative integrity intact. Having confidence allows you the motivation and endurance to get better, and to see it through to the end. You need to be unapologetically bold with your talents and gifts, and the abilities and qualities you possess. What you are capable of is no accident, and withholding your talent from the world would be a mistake. Be bold and courageous! Fight for your creative integrity!
It’s an Ongoing Battle…
I want to say I have conquered this fight, but that simply isn’t true. I still deal with the occasional doubt, and sometimes past hurts resurface. Other times, I am reminded of past failure and defeat. Genuinely, I believe I will never be completely victorious in my own strength. However, this truth I know: God is the victor in this fight. In my experience, my complete dependence is in him, I can win the fights as they come. In the fight for creative integrity, he is my ally, and I know that in the end we win.
The trust I have in the Lord gives me peace. I can continue to trust and be confident in myself. I’ll rest in my purpose, my abilities, gifts and talents, and in my doing and being.
My Dad’s Take on Creative Integrity
My dad used to say, “If you don’t have integrity, you have nothing.” And I firmly believe he was right. I had a wonderful father figure. He never pushed his agenda on me, and he lived the words he said. When it came to my interests, especially in my creative life, his priority was being involved and encouraging. I believe he saw something in me: my talent and gifting, and most of all, my drive. It was his goal to give opportunities to exhibit my skills, but there was one thing he told me he would never compromise on– character.
From his viewpoint, if we were Teslas, the entire vehicle personifies our character, and integrity is the battery powering that beautiful machine. What good does a dead battery do?
Don’t let unwelcome words people speak of you, or your work, discredit God’s creation. There’s a huge difference between constructive criticism and bulldozing commentary. Although criticism can be taken the wrong way, it’s dire that you see yourself as God sees you to avoid one critical opinion to tear you down. Concerning creativity, what we are capable of usually has little to do with self, and everything to do with what we can present to the world around us.
You have the power to inspire, motivate and even save a life with your creation. And if you decide to take on the responsibility, you must be ready to fight, sword and shield in hand. Fight to win and create like lives depend on what you produce– because they do.