25% of the population will not read a book this year. The average American reads 16.2 minutes a day. Most people will never walk the halls of an art gallery. A good portion of the world will not enter a church building.
But men and women continue to engage with generous acts of writing books, creating art, preaching sermons, giving talks, and leading organizations.
Einstein is supposedly cited with saying:
“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.”
Some would describe the artist and writer and pastor pursuit as insanity. Why write books nobody will read? Preach sermons nobody will hear, or slap paint on canvas nobody will enjoy?
But we keep showing up. We write the books, preach the sermons, build the bridges, and care for the kids when nobody is paying you to do so. The generous act, the courageous act, the gift of grace for the world.
Somewhere along the line voices said creativity, art, and sermons are only valuable if money is involved. If you don’t document the work online it doesn’t exist, doesn’t count. The only thing that matters are crowds, money, and influence. Somewhere on the journey, the process and gifts of creativity were stripped of meaning, worth, and value.
But the irony is much of the art we consume is by people who died poor and under-appreciated:
- Emily Dickinson (poet)
- Sebastian Bach (composer)
- Franz Kafka (writer)
- Van Gogh (painter)
To name a few.
Yet, they showed up, and did the work when nobody cared.
I’m struck by the way Jesus speaks about the Kingdom of God in such inconsequential terms. Mustard seeds and yeast in bread. Small and seemingly insignificant things. But their impact is felt over time.
The preacher in the small church with no platform and no book deal can take comfort in these realities.
Many artists and writers and poets and pastors never received accolades until years after their deaths. Yet, here they are, here you are doing your thing, making your stuff, and seeing what sticks. A generous, gracious, and noble act.
Is this insanity? Why keep showing up when nobody seems to care?
Because you have to. It’s like a water pump that won’t shut off. You’ve tried, but you must create, you must keep giving, do the generous act for the benefit of others, you can’t do otherwise.
The impulse to make things people will never read, art never seen, and sermons never heard, suggests something more is going on. A Divine-Impulse is working in the shadows.
Let’s keep being generous with our art. With our lives. You never know what will come of it in the end. Maybe a million years from now someone will enjoy your music, poem, or book. Perhaps your sermon.