The Seduction of Our Gifts

BYU Modern Dance and Music Theatre professor Pat Debenham discusses his observation that artists can be drawn away from a gospel-oriented life by the very artistic gifts that God has endowed them with. Artists properly view their talents as gifts from God, but improperly focusing on those gifts can lead to vulnerability of one’s relationship with the gospel.

Artists seek for a personal, unique voice of expression. When unchecked this can lead to focusing on self, and expression becomes self-expression only. Artists take pride in their work, and enjoy the fame, power, persuasive ability, wealth and acceptance that can come with achievement. But assuming the role of an artist can lead one away from humility and service to others.

Debenham identifies three patterns of thought that can subtly seduce artists away from a gospel-centered life: (1) Artists are particularly blessed to be in possession of their talents. (2) Artistic gifts are callings. (3) Strong, positive emotional responses to artworks or performances housed in a gospel-related contest are always manifestations of the Spirit.

How does an artist protect him- or herself from these seductive thought-patterns? First, ask God for awareness. Art needs to amplify eternal principles. The artist must utilize talent and training plus go underneath the form to get at the underlying spiritual elements. As the spiritual gifts become the focus of attention, artists will be able to use their talents in tangible ways to aid others and themselves onward toward eternal life.

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