"One of the most important contributions that any artist can make," writes Caroll Michels in "How to Survive & Prosper as an Artist. Selling Yourself without Selling your Soul," "is to restructure and take control of his or her own career."
After working overtime in the arts for many years, I found that dedication to my craft wasn't always enough to ensure happiness, security, and success. Producing work that makes a big contribution? I've learned that more than dedication is needed to do that, too.
Long before I read Ms. Michels's book, I decided to do basically what she says - "restructure and take control" of my career. And I decided to do it in what you might call a spiritual way. I figured that I would place my career on a rock-solid foundation by putting it in God's hands.
To me, there's no safer or more practical place to put it - in God's infinite reach of love and intelligence.
I'm learning that what the Bible says about house construction is also true of career construction: "Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it" (Ps. 127:1).
To me, the Lord is the deep, invisible, never-will-change Principle of the whole universe, the very ground of being. And I'm discovering that I can rely on this Father-Mother, steady-as-a-rock, good Principle to maintain and promote my promise, progress, and possibilities. How? By blending with this Principle - mentally - prayerfully.
I think of it this way: It's a lot like flying. Airplanes are designed to move in harmony with the principles of flight. That's the whole point of planes. Safety, peace, power, and freedom are natural results of good aircraft design. Good things happen when planes blend with the laws of aeronautics.
Likewise, as I see it, you and I are designed to move in harmony with the divine Principle called Life. (Life is another way I think of the Supreme Being.) Safety, peace, power, sky-high freedom, dominion, kindness, and well-being are natural results of God's design. Good things happen when you and I blend, in thought and action, with the spiritual laws of Life.
That has surely been true for me. I've faced lots of worries and fears in my career, minor and major. I've had top-of-the mountain highs and deep-in-the-valley lows. But I've been able to keep going by turning moment by moment in silent prayer to God for rescue and comfort and support - and receiving it. In practical ways. Including new inspiration, opportunities, and unexpected sources of income and supply. And serenity, which comes from faith that God has a special successful plan for me and everyone else.
At one point I was commissionless. But I wasn't interested in just any job. I had my heart set on one that would allow me the creative freedom to express my full potential. So I decided to wait until just such a legitimate opportunity presented itself. Fortunately, I had income from a fine day job (teaching). I threw myself into that work and continuously prayed along these lines: "God, I know that you don't supply ability without supplying opportunity for its full expression. And I know that there's never a moment when I'm not totally bathed in your love and intelligent design. Thank you for ongoing tangible evidence of this in my everyday life."
A statement by the founder of the Monitor, Mary Baker Eddy, also kept me going. "... God is our helper," she wrote. "He pities us. He has mercy upon us, and guides every event of our careers" ("Unity of Good," pgs. 3-4).
One day a friend asked for some assistance with a small project. One thing led rather unexpectedly to another. The project grew to become a full-fledged artistic experiment of the unfettered kind and received international recognition. Other doors opened because of it.
I figure my career will always be under construction. But whatever stage it's in, I trust that God is doing the planning, designing, and building, and I remember that the purpose of art and business is to glorify and express God's goodness and wonder. This keeps me flying.
(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor