Artful Living and Leading

by Apr 15, 2016Cultivate, Deepen4 comments

Four years ago, April 15th was designated World Art Day to highlight the awareness and exploration of fine art across the world. Learning about this day, which also honors Leonardo da Vinci’s birthday, peaked my interest. But immediately my thinking spun in a different direction, toward artful living and leading.

In a way I’m hijacking World Art Day—or at least borrowing it. While we might use this day to admire the fine art pieces collected in museums and galleries, we can also notice and celebrate how we create art every day through how we live and how we lead and serve others.

Think of that: A smile. A kind word spoken. A generous act of service. A brave step forward. A sacred moment in God’s presence deepening into richer, fuller living.

Each of these is a brushstroke, a bright, sweet crayon mark, a sculpted motion full of impact and meaning. Messy and unrefined? Definitely. Subtle, hidden, emerging? Often. But each stroke is potentially grander than the greatest masterpieces in the museums of the world.

Why? Because God is in this creative work, uniquely shaping each human being.

We are, in fact, His masterpiece, beautifully created anew in Christ Jesus so we can do the good things He planned long ago for each of us to do.*

Take a moment. See yourself as God’s masterpiece.
How might you use this day to honor and celebrate His unique, artful creation of you? What might you do creatively and artfully as an expression of who you are?

Becoming Artful

What good things has God planned for us?

Artful prayer and worship?

Artful generosity?

Artful service?

Artful loving?

Yes, I believe God invites us into each of these. And much more.

Several years ago, I joined friends for a prayer and ministry planning retreat. As part of our time together we poked around the shops of San Luis Obisbo and found a fun, artsy store. Among the shelves packed with creative finds, I ran across a book called, I Am Her, by Compendium and the folks at Live Inspired.

I bought the book and continue to enjoy the art and gentle encouragements for women tucked into its pages. One of the quotes carries an invitation for my longing-to-burst-out adventurous spirit. It says:

She promises herself adventure, new places, different views,
a chance to get lost.
She infuses her day with newness and wonder.
She brings a camera everywhere, notices the little things,
gets a cup of coffee at a different café, takes the long way home.
She discovers so much unexpected joy.
She begins to love the journey.

So with that, I add the following to my own growing artful living list: artful adventure, wonder, curiosity, noticing, and arms-stretched wide openness to unexpected joy.

These are glimpses of artful living and a journey we can begin to love. It’s also what God invites us to enjoy with Him and something we can invite others into.

What artful way of life is God inviting you to begin or renew? Who can you ask to join you? How might it become a creative part of your life or style of leadership and serving others?

An Artful Challenge

When I rediscovered the above I Am Her quote for this post, I smiled as I thought of a creative opportunity for us to play with being artful on this day called World Art Day:

Following the format of the quote above, write four or five sentences about who you are and who God is creating you to be as His masterpiece.

What do you notice about what you wrote? What new adventures are tugging at your soul? Do you see new areas of creativity you can step into? Where do your unique artful living expressions inspire and shape your leadership and areas of serving others? What fresh invitations from God do you sense?

Perhaps you might also pick up a real brush, a small piece of soft pastel or a crayon, and create a picture to go with your words and sentences.

If you take up any part of this artful challenge, whether on this actual World Art Day or another day, share here and let us celebrate with you. You are God’s masterpiece on a creative adventure!

A paraphrase of Ephesian 2:10. Some of the words used in different versions are: masterpiece, handiwork and workmanship.


  1. Susan Sage

    Great encouragements! I love it, Jan. Thanks and God bless as you walk into this as well.

    • Jan Kern

      So glad this post held encouragement for you, Susan.

      In thinking about walking into this more myself, I find I struggle creating my own sentences of artful living unless they come from a place of God’s stirring within. The I Am Her book, while lovely and inspiring, tends to leave out the God-transforming aspects of who we are. As I was praying and reading before I went to sleep last night, several new sentences came to mind. One was: She welcomes the deep gifts God gives her, and in soul hospitality toward others, she opens her hands and heart with His overflowing grace. My prayer is that He would help me step into that more!

      May you enjoy God’s artful living challenges for you in this day, Susan

      • Susan Sage

        I love the sentence that came to your mind, deeply. Thanks.

        • Jan Kern

          Thank you, Susan. I always continue to mull over what I’ve written. I’m thankful I’m God’s work in progress. 🙂

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