Creativity Is Something You Deserve to Do (a guest post from Matt Appling)

I’ve been following Matt Appling’s blog The Church of No People for over a year now and I’m so excited that his first book Life After Art released just this past week. I asked him if he’d stop by and share with us a little about his book. (I also asked him if he’d give a copy of his book away. He said yes. Yay.)


I know, you don’t need anything added to your to-do list.

Guys, if you’re like me, your honey-do list is a mile long. Ladies, I know you’re being pulled in ten different directions. We live lives that are constantly moving. We are strapped for time, for energy, for money, for…everything. And somehow, by the most tenuous means, we are keeping it together, or at least we have the appearance of keeping it together.

Really, the students that I teach are no different. Some of them play on four baseball teams. I don’t even know how that’s possible. Others are in multiple clubs while still others are constantly being driven from this practice to that rehearsal. My high school students say they don’t go to bed until at least midnight after they get home from practice and then do homework…and probably waste some time on Facebook like the rest of us.

But let me ask you this.

In all of the busyness, the constant moving, how much of our time, our energy, our love, our resources, our lives are spent engaging things that actually bring us fulfillment, joy and peace?

My guess is for many of us, the list gets quite a bit shorter with that question.


Lost Connection

We spend a lot of time doing things we must do. And we spend much of the remaining time doing things we feel we must do. We feel we have to keep up with the neighbors, get ahead, compete. We live in a competitive world. But many of us we leave very little time for ourselves to engage in things that restore us, connect us to our Creator.

Somehow, things that restore us get pushed to the back burner, the end of the to-do list. And that’s why people burn out, have crises of faith, crises in their marriages, mid-life crises. Because we just aren’t doing the things we were created to do.


Dirt Under God’s Fingernails

I imagine that God still had some dirt under his fingernails when he finished shaping Adam from the dust of the garden. Maybe some dust stuck to his lips as he breathed his spirit into the dirt-man’s mouth.

It’s my belief that our entire lives can be viewed through the prism of what we are creating. Creating music, art, words, memories, children – anything – not only engages our minds and bodies, but connects our souls in a very special way to the Mind that created us. Creating puts us in a posture of worship as we imitate our God.


No Time to Be Human

But when I tell people (or write a book) that boils our existence down to creating, some people resist. They say they are just not creative. Other people insist they don’t have the time to be creative or the skills to be creative.

But I’m not here to put one more item on your honey-do list.

I’m talking about doing something you deserve to do. I’m talking about placing priority on yourself, as a created human, a bearer of God’s creative image. It’s about doing something that God created you to do. You don’t have to turn creating into a competition or a home business or start an Etsy shop to justify the time you spend creating. Just do it because it brings you joy.

That’s really what my heart is for anyone who reads Life After Art. It’s not about becoming an “artist” with paint and canvas. It’s about becoming the humans that God created us to be.


Matt Appling is a teacher, pastor and writer. His first book, Life After Art, was released April 1 by Moody Publishers. Watch the video preview, buy the book and get lots of free resources at

Want to win a copy of Matt’s book? Leave a message in the comments about one creative part of your life, whether it’s something that is already a priority or something you would like to make a priority. I’ll draw a name and the winner gets a free book. Easy schmeasy.

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  • Alva Lee Harley

    Thank you for this article. My creativity comes through storytelling, whether it’s speaking to women’s groups or just encouraging young mom’s one-on-one. My latest project is writing family stories as gifts for my children and their families. I appreciate your encouragement. Blessings!

  • Jeannie

    I love the idea of creativity re connecting us to God. Thanks for this post. For the last 4-5 years I’ve been restoring my interest in writing. I’m in a writing group and have written some stories and poetry and am working on a ‘tween’ novel. It’s hard, fun, and exhilarating.

  • Joy Lenton

    This is such an encouraging post that we can all relate to. As Matt says, “It’s about becoming the humans that God created us to be”. We have a great Creator God and He has planted seeds of creativity within each one of us. Tapping into our individual means of expressing this creativity is essential. I spent far too many years neglecting the means God has given me. Now I am finding courage to write, blog and share my poetry and this helps me to come alive in the telling and (hopefully) bless others in the process. Art used to be another medium I had before a severe lack of confidence took over. Maybe an avenue for the future?! I hope so. Thank you, Matt, for holding ajar the door to creative expression and encouraging us to walk through it. Blessings :)

  • Sarah Dunning Park

    I keep hearing about this book! Thanks for sharing, Matt (and Micha)!

    I love the distinction you draw between adding yet another ‘to-do’ and choosing the life-giving mode of creativity. In the past several years, I’ve seen writing become this in my life. I’m healthier — my mind and spirit are more sound — when I make space in my life for it.

  • dina

    I may go out and sign up for a painting class. Loved this.

  • Rebecca

    Well, you got me. If I don’t win the book, I’m likely to go out and buy a copy – because my constant want to create is constantly overrun by my guilt in not finishing the things that need to be done daily… Thank you for the guest post! :)

  • Angela

    I am one of those who doesn’t feel I am very creative, but certainly admire people who I think are! I do enjoy cooking healthy meals, singing, etc. but I don’t necessarily have a stand-out “creative” gift. Your book sounds very interesting! Thanks for your post!

  • eileen

    I don’t write or paint or make jewelry or handmade cards or pottery (can you tell I know others who do those things?), but I plant vegetables and dig around in my crazy yard/garden and cook things using random things we get from our CSA. :-) I also create messes from my creativity! Hehe :-)

  • Kim N

    Oh boy. Where to start? Under the pile of obligations, duties and distractions that is my everyday life, there is a fairly creative woman…if I could just find her! I love to cook and would love to reawaken my childhood love of drawing. Oh, and I plan on making a baby quilt for my very first grand-baby, due this summer!

  • Ann Ehlert

    Our home is in a constant state of recycling junk into art. Our favorite is using toilet paper rolls to create anything from puppets to 3D sculptures. Very fun stuff!

  • michaboyett

    I totally understand the intimidation of making art…especially when Pinterest is a constant reminder of how lacking I am in the craftiness department. Writing has definitely been a creative outlet but I’m finding more and more that cooking can be that too…though I still lack some major skills in that area. Thanks for being here, Matt! And thanks for making us think…

  • Courtsicle

    Some days I play the piano or mold things out of play-doh. Some days I knit or quilt. Some days I create a mess in the kitchen in the name of dinner. Some days I take photos of beauty. But most days I make up songs with my four year old about all the things we must get done.

  • Lindsey

    I find a creative outlet in playing the piano when it’s not for anything specific. It’s one thing when you are stressing about filling in for the pianist on a Sunday morning, but it’s really soothing to just sit down and play something beautiful.

  • Annie

    Thank you for sharing! I’m so intrigued by this book. A big place of creaitive in my life is cooking. Nothing excites me more than coming home to a bunch of random ingredients and figuring out what to make with them. Or going to the grocery store and planning an elaborate and delicious meal for friends.

  • kerri

    I haven’t figured out if my creative outlet is painting or writing or music or whatever- but I know that I feel called to be creative. I also know that I’m terrified of it. Whether I get this book for free or I purchase it, I look forward to what it can teach me.

  • Alysia Yates

    My favorite creations these days are the poetry that my kids and I make together spontaneously. Most are funny and silly and lead to lots of laughs, but we all enjoy the process and have fun playing with words. An insult is not so mean when it is turned into verse, and laughter heals hurt feelings more quickly than just about any other tool. The other day we saw a man in a fancy convertible emerge with a pig on a leash, and we giggled for an hour at all of the variations on that theme. =)

  • Tracy

    Ahhh, the permission this gives! I love it! Thank you for wonderful reminders. In spontaneous moments I pull out my iphone and in the notes app I record words that capture my mood, thoughts, feelings, questions, wonderings and it fills me. I’d like to do it more but am satisfied that I do it at all.

  • michaboyett

    I love all these comments! Thanks for sharing, everybody. I’m about to do a very official name drawing (read: Micha sitting alone at her desk with a metal bowl and some scraps of paper). I’ll share the winner on Thursday!

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