The act of obedience is generally not regarded as a means towards achieving advancement or power and is mostly associated with subjugation, demotion or constraint. However, under the context of artist development, it is an act rooted in vulnerability—that when paired with faith—serves as a powerful tool towards realizing creative growth. That same vulnerability allows for the acceptance and exploration of new and unknown roads of creative expression that at the outset may feel foreign and uncertain but ultimately lead to the actualization of an artist’s authentic voice. In the walking out of obedience towards individual creative calling, a higher level of trust and compliance are required above and beyond personal desires and comfort level.
Entertainment legend and animal rights activist, Doris Day—primarily known for her work as a jazz and pop vocalist and Hollywood actor—had full intentions of realizing a career as a professional dancer and had already won several competitions in her hometown of Cincinnati. She was on her way to Hollywood, but on the night of her farewell party, the car she was traveling in was hit by a train, which ended her dance career. Bedridden and unable to walk, she entertained herself by singing along with the radio for company and discovered a talent that she had previously been unaware of. While recuperating and regaining her ability to walk, she began taking singing lessons—which later led to radio gigs and professional work with several bandleaders, including Les Brown. The redirection of her creative expression ironically brought her to Hollywood, as originally planned—however, along the way, Ms. Day encountered several personal challenges, including domestic violence and an unforeseen bankruptcy (that she learned of at the death of her husband), but in her obedience to opening the door of opportunity presented and maintaining an outlook of optimism, she was able to maintain her creative growth and career trajectory and avoid sinking to the comfort level of her circumstances.
There is a popular scripture that is quoted often in present day that speaks to the power of obedience: "Obedience is greater than sacrifice." In one particular instance within scripture, the axiom is illustrated during an exchange between Christ and a wealthy man who sought his counsel on gaining eternal life. Christ answered in response, stating the known requirement of obedience to spiritual laws and commandments, which the man confirmed that he had obeyed in full since childhood. Afterwards, Christ knowing the man’s heart, looked directly at him in love, and asked for the one thing remaining—the removal of the man’s comfort level to facilitate his growth and ascension: “You need only one thing. Go and sell all you have and give the money to the poor, and you will have riches in heaven, then come follow me.” When the man heard Christ’s words, his face fell and he walked away in despair.
In the numerous retellings of the story, the rich man is judged for his lack of obedience, however, his reaction is not atypical. A life of riches may have been all he ever knew, or he may have over time become accustomed to a life of new wealth in his adult years, which may have made his wealth harder to let go of in remembering a life without wealth. In the same way, an artist’s individual comfort level, when paralleled with the man’s riches, can stymie creative growth. In becoming vulnerable through obedience by doing all that is required and embracing risk and change--versus controlled sacrifices made according to comfort level and understanding--artists are able to fully realize their authentic identity and ascension by accepting roads of creative development or redirection that run counter to marketplace trends or the prospect of an easy sell.
The actualization of creative purpose will require obedience in fully committing and responding to the direction your talents are pulling you towards, particularly when they lead to unknown roads and destinations. It is even more important in those times of uncertainty to stay the course and remain consistent to see your creative vision fulfilled.
Obey your calling.