“True artists don’t meet needs so much as create new cravings.”
—Leonard Sweet, SoulTsunami

As a proud owner of Adobe Creative Suite, I like to learn new software skills and fulfill my interests at the same time, so recently I was converting my master’s paper from Microsoft Word to EPUB using InDesign. I, not surprisingly, found myself reading through it, seeing if my views had changed much over the past decade, and I encountered the above Leonard Sweet quote from his 1999 book SoulTsunami. Though the book was written way back before the turn of the millennium (doesn’t that make you feel old?), the quote really struck me the first time I read it, and it continues to prick my soul. Marketing tells us that we need to appeal to “felt needs” (even if we can’t touch actual needs) in order to get people to “buy” what we’re selling. But think about art, in all its forms. The artist usually doesn’t undertake art because of a desire to meet someone’s need. When did you last hear a musician say, “I just heard people crying out for techno-folk-bluegrass-fusion, and I felt burdened to satisfy that need”? Right, me neither. The point being that we, as artists, take from what burns inside us to share it with others, in the hope that they will begin to hunger for what we offer. Sometimes such an endeavor is just for the artist’s sake (and that can be good, bad, or indifferent). But Jesus used a similar approach in his ministry. When calling His first disciples, Jesus found them in their vocation—fishing. He didn’t offer them bait or tackle. He presented them with a word-image: “I’ll make you fishers of… people!” Talk about creating a new craving! And then there’s the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus’ practice of speaking in parables and word-plays was not only artistic, but designed to draw His hearers in, to make them hunger for the Kingdom, if only they would choose. The Rich Young Man in Mark 10 came to Jesus looking to have his conscience satisfied, but Jesus, the Artist, responded with instruction designed to create a new craving—but only if the young man would receive it. He chose not to. So how might we apply this principle as artists? While we are mindful of the tastes and interests of those we minister to, we must also, through the Lord’s leading, continue to make them hunger for more—most especially for more of Him. Boy, I love to be satisfied in the music, but if I’m satisfied, I also know I’m not really hungry anymore.  It may sound like poor hospitality, but in the upside-down Kingdom of Heaven, the best thing is to keep ‘em going home hungry!

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