If you are creative in any way and are doing something for the kingdom of God, chances are you’ve probably often experienced difficulty or resistance to your efforts in many shapes and forms.
Perhaps others might not understand your journey or what you’re doing. Or you might experience rejection, distractions, discouragement or disillusionment. There may be many times you want to give up. Your dream may even seem to completely die and you wonder if you heard correctly.
In this article here, I spoke about how what we should do when sometimes our dreams don’t always materialise and it seems as if God hasn’t fulfilled our dreams.
If you haven’t read that before, then go and check it out and then come back here. Or bookmark it for later.
One thing I deliberately didn’t speak about in that post was how our calling and dreams will be opposed, as that merited a separate article of its own.
How can you overcome opposition to your calling and dreams?
4 STEPS TO TAKE WHEN YOUR CALLING AND DREAMS ARE OPPOSED
1. Ask God for the correct interpretation of the opposition to your calling and dreams
In his Ransomed Hearts podcast on Interpreting your Calling, John Eldredge points out how we need to see different events that have occurred in our lives through the correct lens. This must be through God’s eyes rather than our own distorted view.
Maybe your project hasn’t been as successful as you hoped for. Perhaps there have been obstacles or people have misunderstood or rejected you. When things aren’t going well, it’s easy to interpret that things inaccurately.
We can believe that God is the problem, that perhaps it is not His will that our dreams become reality. Alternatively, we can put the blame on other people. We can think that perhaps they don’t recognise our talents or they have their own agenda. Or we might even think we ourselves are the problem, that we lack certain qualities or have miscalculated things.
Now that’s not to say that any of these things can’t be the case. We need wisdom and discernment to be able to recognise when these things are in play.
However, we need to understand that our fight is not simply against flesh and blood. Instead, there are spiritual forces opposing us, as the Apostle Paul describes in Ephesians 6:10-20.
If you are pursuing your dreams and advancing the kingdom of God, then your calling is going to be heavily opposed. The devil will work overtime to significantly thwart your efforts. He will try and fill you with discouragement, diminish your work and steal everything from you, including your joy or even the work itself.
I know this to be true in my own life.
I have been working on a graphic novel version of Luke’s gospel for the past few years. It was a vision that God laid on my heart as I sought Him out during one of my quiet times.
The graphic novel is something that is definitely a kingdom work. It could be used for great potential to reach others and spread the good news in a fresh and visual way. However, it’s no coincidence that during the time I’ve worked on it, I’ve experienced some of the worst discouragement, distraction, temptation and frustration I’ve ever had in my Christian life.
Along the way I’ve faced numerous delays and obstacles. There have been many times when I’ve wanted to give up. I’ve wondered whether, after all of this, anyone would be interested in it at all. Or maybe people might express an initial interest, but then would simply not commit when it came down to the crunch of buying it.
I could go on at length, but it’s not really important. There are plenty of ways the enemy works against you and will try to plant negative thoughts in your mind or obstacles in your path.
Eldredge highlights a key verse in 1 Thessalonians 2:18:
“For we wanted to come to you—certainly I, Paul, did, again and again—but Satan blocked our way.”
Paul doesn’t speak in terms that perhaps it wasn’t God’s will. Nor does he suggest that maybe in His providence God knew that it wouldn’t be right or that Paul wouldn’t be happy. Moreover, he doesn’t write in terms of how God might have had something better in store, or all the other ways we often speak, that can come across as our way of rationalising things.
No, instead, Paul puts it bluntly: the enemy blocked his path. He recognises that He was opposed by a spiritual adversary.
Likewise, we need to also recognise that if God has given us dreams or a calling, and we are doing something for the kingdom, then it will be violently opposed by the enemy to prevent it from ever emerging.
How do we overcome this though?
2. Consecrate your calling and dreams to God
Eldredge suggests that we consecrate our calling to God. We offer to him our dreams, our gifts, our work. Ask him to protect it and to place it under His rule and authority.
Thank God for the talents He has given you. Be grateful for your creativity, or your artistic, sporting or musical abilities. Consecrate your gifts to the Lord, and any creative projects you may be working on. Perhaps you’ve grown bored and want to be free of it. If that’s the case, ask God to help you finish well and to keep focused and motivated to see it through to the end. Pray that God will help you find joy in it, and bless your creative ability so that your work is the best it can be, and not a half-hearted effort.
Most importantly, pray that your creative endeavour doesn’t become an idol that gives you your sense of identity or self-worth. Instead, ask God to help you find your identity in Him.
Ask God to direct your footsteps and show you the right timing, and to open the right doors. In addition, don’t lean on your own understanding. Rather, trust in Him with all your heart and ask Him to make straight your paths straight.
You’ll have to pray in this way constantly to commit your plans to the Lord.
There’s an old hymn by Sebastian Temple called “All that I am”. The lyrics read:
All that I am, all that I do,
All that I’ll ever have, I offer now to you.
Take and sanctify these gifts
For your honour, Lord.
Knowing that I love and serve you
Is enough reward.
All that I dream, all that I pray,
All that I’ll ever make, I give to you today.
Like the words of the hymn, we need to offer all that we are to God.
3. Contend for your calling and dreams through spiritual warfare
This falls under the area of spiritual warfare. We need to understand that it is a continual battle – a marathon. It’s not merely a short race or something we can pray about once. In other words, we need to fight for that dream, that project, that creative endeavour, that gift, that job, that ministry, that mission or that relationship on a daily basis.
Paul instructs us in Ephesians 6:10-20 to put on the full armour of God in our fight against the enemy. Therefore, when we face disappointment, disillusionment, lack of motivation or temptation, we need to put on the helmet of salvation to think and interpret things clearly. Similarly, we need to hold up the shield of faith to extinguish the fiery darts of the enemy.
Above all, we also need to wield the sword of the Spirit to claim the truth of God’s promises and speak these out in faith over our lives and our calling.
We need to bring our failings, our sins, our heartbreaks to the cross of Christ. We must claim the power of the cross and the blood of Jesus against all of our opposition and everything thwarting us. In Jesus’ name, we must use this authority to bind the enemy working against us and overcome these obstacles.
I don’t have time to go into more detail on spiritual warfare here, as that is a separate post in itself. However, we need to constantly do battle in order to receive the blessing.
4. Read resources on overcoming resistance to your calling
There are various practical resources you can read that will help you to overcome the opposition on an everyday basis.
In his book The War of Art: Break Through Your Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battle, Steven Pressfield identifies that we’re up against an enemy which he names Resistance with a capital “R”. While his book is not specifically Christian, the principle is effectively the same here.
“If you believe in God (and I do) you must declare Resistance evil, for it prevents us from achieving the life God intended when He endowed each of us with our own unique genius… Resistance will tell you anything to keep you from doing your work. It will perjure, fabricate, falsify, seduce, bully, cajole. Resistance is protean. It will assume any form, if that’s what it takes to deceive you… Resistance is always lying and always full of s**t.”
Does any of that sound familiar? It should. What is this Resistance that we face to our calling, especially as creatives? It is the devil, who hates our creativity and will profoundly oppose us in any endeavour we do for the kingdom.
The War of Art, which is a play on words on Sun Tzu’s military treatise The Art of War, gives strategic and practical ways of combating Resistance to our creative efforts every day.
Another book to check out that is more explicitly Christian is The Creative Life: A Workbook for Unearthing the Christian Imagination by Alice Bass. This contains eight weeks’ of material comprising various exercises to help you overcome creative blocks and inhibitions.
Have you ever felt strongly opposed to your calling or to realising your dreams? If so, how did you overcome this?
Did you consider that the devil might be trying to prevent you from stepping into God’s destiny for you?
Let me know by leaving your comments in the section below. Additionally, it would be great if you could share if you found this article useful.
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Robert is the founder of Drawing on the Word. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Theology and a Master’s degree in Systematic Theology. He also has a degree in Law and was called to the Bar. Robert previously taught religious studies and was a theology lecturer. He is an artist, musician and writer, and has created a graphic novel version of Luke’s gospel. You can follow him below.