Guest Post: When Creative Work Is a Struggle

I hope you’ll find encouragement in this guest post by Bethany Smith. Bethany is a writer, an educator, and a creative person. If you’re facing a creative challenge, I hope you’ll be inspired by her hard-won advice.


Work, especially creative work, does not always come easily. We may have day jobs, families, mental or physical illness, or the chaos of a busy, modern life. However, the slight tug of an ignored calling presses through the noise. The abandoned manuscript or canvas calls, ever present, nagging at the corners of our tangled minds.

The work, ignored, becomes a sad and dull ache. No matter how hard we try, the work refuses to be abandoned. If your work has been set aside for too long, consider this a call to pick it up again.

Why does your creative work matter? First, your art matters because it is a part of your calling. God has created you the way you are. He created you to be a creator, in his image. Your creative talents are not superfluous or unimportant or silly. You are a creator as he is a creator. He made you the way you are and does not want or expect you to try to become someone else.

As a creative person, it is easy to feel as if your artistic work does not matter to the culture at large or that surely God doesn’t want us to use anything as selfish as your storytelling or painting. On the contrary, he wants you to be the fullest expression of the person he created you to be. Your gifts are a big part of your calling.

Secondly, God asks for your best work. “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ” (Colossians 3:23-24). It doesn’t matter what anyone else says. It doesn’t matter if your work is valued by anyone else yet. God wants your work for his glory.

Martin Luther is often quoted as saying, “The Christian shoemaker does his duty not by putting little crosses on the shoes, but by making good shoes, because God is interested in good craftsmanship.” Avoiding the work doesn’t fit into the directive to “work heartily.” Starting is a good step in the right direction.

Finally, the time to do the work is now.

As Paul writes to Timothy, “Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you. Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress” (1 Timothy 4:14-15). These verses were discussing spiritual gifts, but I believe they apply to our artistic, God-given talents as well.

When the work is difficult, we may wish to abandon it for something easier. But leaving the work for an easier path does not feel better in the long run. Abandoning the work makes us feel empty and as if we lost our path somewhere along the way. Quitting the work is not a viable option.

As Paul tells us, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10). He has created good works for us to do. He has prepared the way. We simply have to walk forward and take the next step.

Stepping into these good works, doing the creative work, is your calling. God asks for your best work. It’s time.

Bethany Austin Smith writes about courage, risk, and creativity. Follow her at or on Twitter at @PaperIsDue.

  1. Robyn says:

    Such a great article! The book Bethany is working on sounds so good, too – can’t wait to read it! Thanks for sharing her post, Amy!


  2. Jane Austin says:

    Wonderful perspective on work, our calling and making time for what brings life to our souls.

© 2018 Amy Simpson.