There are certain words and catch-phrases that are unique to every country, region and culture, used to communicate universal values and experience. “Having heart”—a phrase indigenous to South Los Angeles, Hip-Hop culture—translates as the embodiment of significant tenacity and courage, and by extension, indicates an equal capacity towards self-sacrifice. For artists and creatives, that level of “heart” carries the same translation in the adoption of disciplines, work ethic and the lifestyle of sacrifice necessary to manifest career success—and also requires an extensive knowledge and understanding of craft and marketplace dynamics, in order to properly steward resources of time and money towards that goal.
Despite the amount of heart that an artist embodies and executes towards their career, personal fulfillment and creative longevity ultimately depend upon a knowing that exists above the academic and practitioner knowledge that informs personal and professional sacrifices. Over the course of the creative journey, regardless of the level of critical or financial success, there can be a risk of creative flatlining, when the heart underlying career pursuits remains unanchored in purpose and the creative plan of the Creator. This level of disassociation, where artists become disengaged from their craft, is mirrored within the following excerpt from the Book of Ecclesiastes, in which King Solomon reflected upon his success, as he searched for the meaning in the enormity of the wealth attained through his knowledge and skill:
“Anything I wanted, I got. I did not deny myself any pleasure. I was proud of everything I had worked for, and all this was my reward. Then I thought about all that I had done and how hard I had worked doing it, and I realized that it didn’t mean a thing. It was like chasing the wind—of no use at all. After all, a king can only do what previous kings have done.”
When artists and creatives come into a knowing of the purpose, intent and plan for their creative talent and gifts through the lens of the Creator and come into covenant with him through a sacrifice of heart in the form of thanksgiving and humility, it results in the protection, cultivation and sustainability of their creative voice. This sacrifice of heart is outlined in the following psalms, as voiced by King David:
“He says, ‘Gather my faithful people to me,
Those who made a covenant with me by offering a sacrifice.
All the wild birds are mine
And all the living things in the fields.
If I were hungry, I would not ask you for food,
For the world and everything in it is mine.
Giving thanks is the sacrifice that honors me,
And I will surely save all who obey me.’”
“You do not want sacrifices,
Or I would offer them;
You are not pleased with burnt offerings.
My sacrifice is a humble spirit, O God;
You will not reject a humble and repentant heart.”
This sacrifice of heart through the knowing of creative purpose and covenant with the Creator also results in a righteousness of spirit that yields a faith that serves artists and creatives in navigating the triumphs and trials of the creative career—a faith that instills a confidence and knowing above and beyond the bandwidth of human understanding, disciplines or capability, and is evidenced by the multi-tiered expressions of his promise towards the protection, cultivation and sustainability of artists’ careers and creativity. This byproduct of faith through sacrifice of heart and covenant with the Creator, beyond human effort and discipline, is defined by the Apostle Paul in the following excerpt from his letter to the Phillippians:
“I no longer have a righteousness of my own, the kind that is gained by obeying the Law. I now have the righteousness that is given through faith in Christ, the righteousness that comes from God and is based on faith.”
The attribute and exercise of heart by artists and creatives in covenant with the intent and plan of the Creator for their creativity produces a faith that informs the sustainability and longevity of the creative career.