Welcome to Week Seven of the Follow Your Call Series!
Sarah Geringer's story is one that I can relate to so closely. If you feel that you have a talent or skill that you dream of using for something bigger, I encourage you to read her post! She offers insight and wisdom and will inspire you to use your gifts as you seek to follow God's call!
In 2005, I tuned into American Idol every week, hoping that Carrie Underwood would win the grand prize.
I loved her audition. You could tell she had God-given talent from the very beginning.
She was a small-town Midwestern girl, just like me. She had big dreams and needed a big stage and a bigger contract to fulfill her full potential.
I’ve been a fan of hers since the beginning, amazed by her tenacity and grit. She’s faced several personal challenges in the past few years, but her faith consistently shines through her calling.
Carrie’s journey inspired me as a creative person. In high school, I was known as the class artist, and my English teachers said I could have taught the section on creative writing. I gained honors for my musical talents and acting ability. People said I was a rising star.
I hit a brick wall of discouragement when I graduated from college with degrees in art and English. Unlike my professors, not many employers were impressed. They wanted me to do grunt work (read: not creative) to prove my worth.
This is such a common experience for creative people I know. You start off with sky-high dreams, then wonder if you were really called to a life beyond a desk or service counter. You may even wonder if God has called you to a creative life, or if you were mistaken.
In my job as a receptionist at an advertising agency, I had the daily chore of opening the company mail. When my boss’ copy of The New Yorker arrived, I sneaked it home for the weekend. I devoured the classy illustrations and excellent articles. Then I placed the magazine in his box on Mondays, and he was none the wiser. The magazine stoked my creative urge.
I remember one night in our cheap apartment, I prayed with frustrated tears, asking God why I was stuck in a dead-end job. I prayed that he wouldn’t let my creative talents go to waste.
Years passed, and my babies were born. I was busy as I could be, working from home as an event planner. But my creative urge wouldn’t die. I expressed it in the form of props for the church harvest festival and scrapbook pages that catalogued my children’s milestones.
God taught me in those years of obscurity that raw talent is not enough. The talents he gave me needed to be invested, just as the servants in Matthew 25:14-30 were expected to turn their gifts into something more. This transformation requires work, commitment, and time.
In 2010 I began blogging, following God’s promptings to write about my personal struggles. I had written in my journals since I was 10 years old, and I began sharing my thoughts online. I stopped and started again and again yet felt encouraged by the positive comments and likes.
In 2015 I got serious about blogging and pursuing my long-held dream to publish a book. I thought about Carrie Underwood’s journey often. She had to keep working and producing new content to connect with new fans. Even after she won American Idol, she still had to go on tour and make new albums, videos and media appearances.
As I considered quitting my day job and writing full-time, I thought about Carrie Underwood’s talent. How wasteful it would have been for Carrie to settle for a mundane life in the comfort of her hometown. I pondered this more and more, thinking about how it might have even been sinful for someone with her level of talent to hide it away.
Carrie’s story inspired me to seek a wider stage. I often pondered the parable of the talents (also referred to as the parable of the bags of gold).
To follow my calling as a creative person, I needed to stop hiding, take risks, and invest my talents for God’s glory.
In 2017 I quit my job and began writing. I also attended a large writers conference for Christian women that summer. God honored the financial risk I took by introducing me to my literary agent there, and eventually connected the dots to help me sign a contract for a book to be published in 2019.
Back when I was writing in my journals as a teen, God planted the seed of a calling to write. He nurtured and watered that seed when I was a student, allowing me to gain accolades in contests and praise from my teachers. Over time he helped me bring my talents out of hiding and start investing them online.
By cultivating and investing my creative talents as a Christian writer and artist, I can encourage others in their faith journeys. I’m so grateful for the opportunities God provided once I started viewing my creativity as a calling.
If you are a creative person, I encourage you to look at your raw talent as evidence of a calling. The Old Testament is filled with examples of how God used creative people to beautify his temple. He is the Creative Master, and he has generously shared his creativity with a special group of his people. If you have creative talents, take heart knowing that God includes you in that special group.
If it’s been a while since you used your creative talents, start off small. Pick up your paintbrush, dust off your instrument, practice shooting videos, or share a daily photograph on social media. People love to see beauty and faith in action. Their likes, comments and shares will encourage you to keep posting.
Consider how you can use your gifts to bless others or to further God’s kingdom. Maybe you can start singing at church. You can sew quilts or knit caps for charity. You can offer free photography sessions to get your name out there. There’s never been a better time in history to share your creative gifts with the world. Just don’t keep them hidden forever—invest them for God’s glory.
Sarah Geringer writes about Finding Peace in God’s Word at sarahgeringer.com and is the author of three self-published books. Her book on Christian meditation will be published by Leafwood in late 2019. Sarah exercises her creative gifts by painting, baking, gardening, playing the flute, and “acting” in online videos. She lives in her beloved home state of Missouri with her husband and three children, right in the heart of prime viewing for the Great Eclipses of 2017 and 2024.