I just got back from an awesome Christian contemporary music camp about a week ago. The love and excitement everyone had for Christ was amazing, and the critiques and tips I got for songs I had written really got me thinking enthusiastically about other songs I could write.
One part that felt really important to me was the part of songwriting class where a student could come to the front of the room and play their song for the teachers. I couldn’t wait to go up; I wanted to get as much out of camp as I could, and I wanted an opinion on a particular song I had brought. At least, those are the reasons I focused on when I waved my hand, grabbed a guitar, and hurried up to the front of the room.

I realize now that, while some of my motivations for stepping up were well-founded and disciplined, part of me kept throwing out questions as I played and sang: I hope they like my song. I hope they notice how much symbolism I used in this song. I hope it’s so catchy they start harmonizing. I hope they like me…

Then I hit a section I was less comfortable with, and the next stream of thoughts started running through my head: What iHamster_on_Wheelf they don’t like this section? What if my voice cracks? What if that guitar chord doesn’t sound clearly, and they don’t get what I’m trying to convey? What if they forget the good parts of my song and focus on this weak part? And on and on it went, like a gerbil running around on a wheel and getting nowhere.

Finally, as I began to reach the end of the song, I somehow began to relax and enjoy myself a little. The passion suddenly came pouring out into my refrains, and I focused more on the words instead of my thoughts. Playing those last two refrains was a wonderful feeling, because I’d stopped looking for approval and started focusing on praising God.

When I was done, I did get the approval I’d hoped for. They all liked my song, and I received praise and criticism, both of which I considered carefully. But in the end, was it really worth all of that worrying? I don’t think so.

As artists, our feelings are often very closely tied with our “masterpieces.” When we write, it’s easy to focus on how others will react to hearing or seeing what we hope is the finished product. We knock on the walls of people’s minds, hoping to get some worthwhile praise for ourselves or our work. But if we put others’ opinions as the main focus instead of God’s opinions, the praise we hear from others will resonate hollow in our hearts. It really won’t be worth much of anything if we don’t ask God what he thinks first.

Now, I’m not suggesting you keep your masterpieces to yourself, afraid to get too puffed up on the words of others. It’s good to get constructive criticism and recognition for your hard work. But it’s more important to seek God’s wisdom and focus on glorifying him, not ourselves and our work.

When you need advice, knock on the walls of God’s heart first. You’ll have peace of mind when he approves what you’ve done to glorify him, and you won’t regret it.

God bless your day!

Alicia Michelle

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33, NIV).