Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of J. Scott McElroy's new book, Finding Divine Inspiration: Working with the Holy Spirit in Your Creativity, (Destiny Image Publishers, 2008).
Need ideas for a creative project, or the strength to complete it well? God Himself is waiting to collaborate with you! Through His Holy Spirit, the Creator will work with you to bring His messages to the world in unique ways.
Here's how you can find divine inspiration:
Invite the Holy Spirit into your creative process. Start by getting your relationship with God right – either by becoming a Christian, or, if you’re already connected to God through Christ, ask Him to reveal sins that are hindering your relationship with Him. Then confess and repent of the sins that God has brought to mind. Once you’ve pursued a close relationship with God, tell Him that you’d like to partner with Him in the creative work He’s doing in the world. Ask the Holy Spirit to show you what part you can play in that work.
Develop a listening lifestyle. Build habits that make it easier for you to hear the Holy Spirit speaking to you. Pray regularly throughout each day. Ask God to help you discern the difference between His voice and your own thoughts and feelings or the voice of evil trying to deceive you. Recognize and minimize distractions and worldviews that compete with biblical truth and create noise that drowns out the Spirit’s voice you’re trying to hear. Think critically about the cultural messages you’re receiving through the media and other sources so you can discern how true or untrue they are in light of the reality that God has revealed through His Word. Fight pride and fear that can keep you from taking the risks necessary to join God in His creative work. Ask God to help you look beyond who you think you are to more clearly see who you really are. Let go of your own agendas for creative projects and ask God to replace your dreams with His own dreams for your work and life. Trust God to have the best in mind for you, and decide to pursue His purposes rather than your own plans. Deal with sin that hinders you from hearing the Holy Spirit so you’ll be free to receive unblocked inspiration again. For example, if you’re struggling with bitterness, forgive the person who has hurt or offended you, and afterward you’ll find that you’re better able to communicate with the Holy Spirit. Keep a personal prayer journal to record inspiration you receive from God regularly. Take retreats from your regular responsibilities when you can to focus intensely on how God is guiding you in your creative work.
Make yourself completely available to God. Once God reveals what creative work He wants to collaborate with you on through a particular project, trust and obey Him as He leads you to do it. Offer all of your talents, skills, and other resources to God to use however He will during the project. Aim to follow His guidance every step of the way. As God reveals specific messages that He wants you to communicate through your project, ask Him to help you understand the messages’ meanings well enough to express them to others in ways that will draw them closer to God. Lay down your preconceived notions of what you think God may want to do through your project, and keep your heart open and your spirit sensitive to His ongoing guidance.
Grow in your craft. Learn all you can and work hard so you can develop the skills you need to do excellent work on any project God calls you to undertake. If you’re a writer, for example, work through various drafts and ask others to read and comment on your work. Or, if you’re a designer, sketch your ideas often, build models, and keep practicing.
Wrap each project in prayer. Focus on communing with God as you do your work. Rely on the power the Holy Spirit gives you and dedicate your work to Him. Don’t rush ahead of your inspiration; patiently wait for God to reveal each idea and next step in the project. Ask God to anoint your work so it will have the impact He wants it to have.
Enjoy seeing what happens. God is in control of what ultimately results from your creative projects. Trust Him to open doors of opportunity for your creative projects in the right places and at the right times. Whether or not your creative work succeeds by the world’s standards, it will be a success if you do it in loving obedience. Measure your progress by how faithful to God you are as a creative person, rather than how successful other people consider your projects to be. When you faithfully collaborate with God on creative work, you not only grow as a person during the process, but you also actually help usher His kingdom into the world. That’s always something to celebrate! So if your work fails from the world’s perspective, remember that there is still great value in it. And if your work succeeds in the world’s eyes, be careful not to let it define you. Remember that only God defines you, and creative projects are just tools that He can use to help you grow.
Adapted from Finding Divine Inspiration: Working with the Holy Spirit in Your Creativity, copyright 2008 by J. Scott McElroy. Published by Destiny Image Publishers, Shippensburg, Pa., www.destinyimage.com.
J. Scott McElroy is a writer, voiceover artist, visual artist, and award-winning radio producer who is passionate about redeeming the arts through collaborating with the Holy Spirit. As a voiceover artist, he hosted the Animal Planet TV series “Wildlife Journal” from 2004-2007. His voice is heard on national TV commercials, video games, websites and more. He lives in Indianapolis, Indiana with his wife Danielle daughter Hailee and son Kaia.
Original publication date: August 7, 2009