Good Words, Bad Words, No Words
This is a note I sent to our artist community at Hope. If anybody has any good thoughts, I'd be most interested and grateful.
I'm speaking at the Trinity Arts Conference at the University of Dallas, June 15-18. The theme of the conference is "All Things." My own talk is titled: "All Things: In particular the Small Things (Especially Words)." My goal is to talk about the importance and virtue of encouragement. If I had to distill one or two things that I thought was most important over the last five to ten years in my position as arts pastor, I would say it is this:
"Artists are made or broken by the words of encouragement they received along the way, or barely received, or never received; that it's not just what we say to each other, it's how we say it, how often we say it, how often we forget or refrain from saying it. Saying what? Saying words of encouragement. Why do we need encouragement? Because we are constantly threatened by fear, the fears inside our hearts and the fears all around us, the fears that threaten us to stop and give up or settle for the path of least resistance. And it is only God's courage that can help us overcome our fears. And so He calls us to en-courage each other. Writes St. Paul, 'But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness' (Heb. 3:13). Without encouragement--to forestall the entropic effects of fear--there's little chance any of us will ever achieve our fullest potential."
What I'd love to get help on is the following. Can you share with me:
1. Words of encouragement you've received along the way that you remember being really important to you as an artist.
2. Words of discouragement that hurt you in your development as an artist.
3. A good movie, play, song, art piece that illustrates the power of encouraging words.
Thanks so much!
ps: At some point this week I hope to jot down my impressions of the C. S. Lewis conference this past weekend in Austin; or at least tell about my friendly altercation with Frederica Matthewes-Green.
(PHOTO: Walter Wangerin interview, Festival of Faith & Writing, April 2006. Both Wangerin and Richard Foster sport the very rad and holy grey-haired ponytails. Click to enlarge.)