On my recent trip to California, I was talking with a friend, Byron Easterling, and something he said stuck with me. (By the way, check out his insightful book, “Dream Big, Dream Often.”) We were talking about artists and leaders and he commented about the possibility that there is a new breed of artists coming that are also called to be leaders. It got me thinking about how leadership and artistry always used to be portrayed at polar opposites. The values of the artist and the leader were on opposite ends of the spectrum. There seemed to be constant frustration between the two. But it seems that nowadays the kind of leadership that is being sought and rewarded is the type of leadership that is creative in nature, that is true artistry. Maybe we should replace the value laden term “artist” and use something like “designer.” Regardless of the terminology, it seems that there are more and more leaders seeking creative abilities and that there are more and more creators seeking leadership skills.

My husband and I are prime examples of this. Most of his life my husband, a missionary/pastor’s kid, has been expected to be a leader, particularly a leader in the church. Leadership skills were engrained in him so much that he often took them for granted. (On a side note, you ever noticed how many pastor’s kids end up becoming musicians?) I, on the other hand, a recording engineer/producer/musician’s daughter and valley girl from LA, have been expected to be an artist, a performer, a creator. I took the arts for granted, along with all the creative training I received. So naturally, my husband has sought out opportunities to be creative, and I have sought out opportunities to lead. After years of thinking that we are hopelessly confused, we are coming to realize we can have both– that we can be both leaders and artists in the same breath. We are designers. But we lead differently, not better or worse, just differently. We lead by design, even using our artistic expressions as a leadership tool. And I know that there are many others like us out there. You may be one too.

I believe that God is raising up more and more “designers” or “artist-leaders” in the church. I’ll refer to it as a Solomon anointing. I have heard Bill Johnson prophesy that in coming days we will see a rise in interest over the life of Solomon. Solomon was the wisest man who ever lived but, as Johnson points out, his wisdom was not a heady type of wisdom, void of passion and emotion. Rather, he expressed his wisdom through amazing arts and craftsmanship. He was uniquely equipped to guide and communicate effectively with other artists as well as with other leaders. He had an artistic vision and knew how to inspire and collaborate with others to make amazing things happen. So much so, that the Queen of Sheba was blown away by how he set the table!

Back to 2012, have you noticed that this is the greatest year of opportunity yet for artists? Current technology has allowed us greater and greater opportunities to express ourselves. The days when you can be an artist and avoid being an entrepreneur are coming to a close. These days, you’ve got to have great strategy and great business sense as well as amazing work. Because everyone now has more opportunity, there is just too much of a competitive edge for you to skimp on leadership skills. Conversely, in our pluralistic society, there is more and more of a need for leaders who understand culture, the arts, and how to speak the language of our arts-driven, opinionated, and technologically sophisticated society. Gone are the days when your message will get through without employing some amazingly creative tactics. Gone are the days when title and position is enough.

You may consider yourself an Artistic Leader, or you may be more of a Leading Artist. Together, we need the Solomon anointing of an unparalleled wisdom and understanding into many realms. We need to be skilled. We need to be inspiring. We need to recognize the treasure in others and to pull it out of them. Who knows where your following lies? Who knows the people who are searching for your leadership or your expression? You won’t know until after you step out to lead, to create. The wisdom you need is available now. All you need to do is ask. (James 1:5)

  1. […] months ago, I wrote a blog post called “Leading by Design.” The relative popularity of this post made me realize that I had hit a nerve of what God […]

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