The creative journey is a road that places cyclical demands on the endurance of those who travel it. For most, the ability to meet those demands requires a cognitive faith in the marriage of thought, belief and action to successfully clear personal and professional obstacles and hurdles—in addition to an uninhibited vulnerability in order to attract and reel in the unseen promises of both career and craft. When artists and creatives lose their heart in the process through hardship or betrayal, the memory of that loss can breed a level of distrust that intensifies during times of uncertainty and chaos. In a marketplace and career path that necessitates risk towards cultivating creative and professional growth, how can creatives rebuild their sense of trust and faith in continued support of their craft and artistic vision?
For artists, that trust can be rebuilt through a renewed understanding of their craft through the lens of the Creator, as the source and author of creativity. When creatives are able to set proper boundaries with their craft through a renewed understanding of their creative talents and abilities as a vehicle towards the purpose and intent of the Creator, they are able to graduate from a shelter-in-place creativity that primarily serves their identity to an effective creativity that evolves and sustains through times of economic and creative abundance or famine.
This renewed understanding of individual talents and gifts, gained through hardship and betrayal, and relationship with the Creator is paralleled through the scriptural account of the life of Joseph in the book of Genesis. Initially, Joseph’s discovery of his gift and ability to interpret dreams served as a source of identity and validation in the midst of the rejection he experienced by his brothers. As the favorite son, among twelve brothers, Joseph found himself increasingly ostracized within his family due to his gift and the noted intimacy and trust he shared with his father--in his reports of his brothers’ wayward behavior. The ostracism was also cemented by class differences, as Joseph’s half-brothers were the sons of concubines.
In an effort to close the gap and rebuild a sense of identity and inclusion, Joseph spoke to his brothers about a dream that foreshadowed his greatness—as seen in the following passage:
“One time Joseph had a dream, and when he told his brothers about it, they hated him even more. He said, ‘Listen to the dream I had. We were all in the field tying up sheaves of wheat, when my sheaf got up and stood up straight. Yours formed a circle around mine and bowed down to it.’
‘Do you think you are going to be a king and rule over us?’ His brothers asked. So they hated him even more because of his dreams and because of what he said about them.”
As his story evolved, Joseph’s language surrounding his gift also evolved over the thirteen years that followed. After enduring the betrayals of his brothers—who sold him into slavery—and the false allegations of sexual assault that resulted in his incarceration, Joseph's understanding of his gift sharpened and matured, along with his emotional IQ towards realizing its creative purpose.
The evolution of Joseph’s understanding is reflected in the passages below in his exchanges with the imprisoned officials, who he served in prison. The exchange denotes a greater understanding of his gift--graduating from a personal need for identity and belonging to a perspective governed by humility and empathy in covenant and acknowledgement with the Creator, as seen below:
“One night there in prison the wine steward and the chief baker each had a dream, and the dreams had different meanings. When Joseph came to them in the morning, he saw that they were upset. He asked them, ‘Why do you look so worried today?’
They answered, ‘Each of us had a dream, and there is no one here to explain what the dreams mean.’
‘It is God who gives the ability to interpret dreams,’ Joseph said. ‘Tell me your dreams.’”
This increased understanding was also visible in Joseph’s subsequent exchange with the king of Egypt two years later:
“The king sent for Joseph, and he was immediately brought from the prison. After he had shaved and changed his clothes, he came into the king’s presence. The king said to him, ‘I have had a dream, and no one can explain it. I have been told that you can interpret dreams.’
Joseph answered, ‘I cannot, Your Majesty, but God will give a favorable interpretation.’”
When artists anchor their creative power in humility and empathy, it allows for a reconfiguration of hierarchical needs that acknowledges the Creator as the source of their gifts and talent--and a rebuild of the trust and faith necessary towards actualizing personal and professional success.