Recently I came across a situation where a musician was hired to fill in as the worship leader for a Sunday morning service while the primary worship leader was out. The individual was asked to put together a set of slides with the song lyrics so that the congregation could follow along as they sing. This was the response the hired individual gave to the request:
“I’m sorry, but I’m not going to do that. I’m really more of an artist.”
Now, I won’t even get into the fact that this person is being paid to be a “worship leader” and not a performing artist. Or the fact that there are dozens of other musicians who would love a paying gig in this town. What I immediately saw was the incredible genius in this remark. The next time that my kids ask me to drive them to the movies, I can respond “I’m sorry, but I’m not going to do that. I’m really more of an artist.” Or the next time the IRS asks me for documentation during an audit I can say, “I’m sorry. I’m really more of an artist. I just don’t do the whole documentation thing.”
This is such a good idea that I think we should all be “artists.” So when your boss asks you to put together the monthly sales report you can say, “I’m sorry, but I’m not going to do that. I’m really more of an artist.” Or if someone asks you to clean up your mess in the office kitchen you can say, “I’m sorry. I’m more of an artist and not really into the whole cleaning thing.” Kids who don’t want to do their homework can always use the artist excuse, also. Because if we’re all artists and need to focus on our art instead of all the little things, then none of us ever has to do anything we don’t feel like doing.
By the way, I was informed that the individual will not be hired again to fill in for the worship leader because the person wasn’t interested in doing the work for which he was being paid.
The truth is that real artists do whatever it takes because we know that it’s not about us: it’s about our work. And if it takes making a few slides to help people follow along with our work, then we make the slides. Art is, after all, a form of communication. If we feel that we’re above communicating then what we’re doing may not really be art.