Artist’s Lane: Helping others find their calling


By Betty Slade
PREVIEW Columnist

A friend called and asked my advice. She wanted to know how to help her 24-year-old son, a creative soul who is exceptionally talented. Of course, I felt obliged to share with her what I knew. 

From one mother to another, I could relate to the ask for help on the other end of the line. 

I told my son about that conversation I had. Maybe I had a new calling. Since he was the recipient of years of my great wisdom, I asked him what he thought. 

His response, “I think your friend called the wrong number.”

I remember a time when I sought council when I didn’t know what to do with my children. I’m sure I even received some great advice, although it came at a time when I was developing my selective hearing skills. 

I was too much in my own head back then. As a creative type myself, I was busy trying to write my own narrative to hear from anyone else. 

I know all about the artist temperament. You can push, but they won’t move until they are inspired. Until then, you’re just provoking them. Push too hard and the artist will dig their heels in deep. 

I told my friend, “I made a lot of mistakes. Don’t make the same ones.”

When our children are young, we want to help and guide them. When they grow up, we have to let go. If we don’t get out of their way, they will never know which direction they are designed to go. 

There is nothing wrong with standing in the wings to help, just don’t clip them. 

While my Sweet Al and I were having our Bible study this morning, we discussed a passage of scripture where Moses placed his hands upon Joshua. He was passing on his calling, an anointing, a spirit of wisdom.

Joshua received his calling through an anointing that provided him direction. He could have chosen not to lead the Jewish people into the promised land, but then they would have not received their inheritance, the land given to them.

No matter the label we wear, we have the ability to help others find what can be theirs, by helping them to listen for their own calling. 

Why do we push and pull those around us to go in the direction we think they need to go? All we can do is share a vision. It is up to them to take the journey. 

I am reminded of a story that a dear friend shared with me long ago. Each year, her family traveled to a specific camping retreat in New Mexico. They would play games and swim in the nearby river. They were creating memories. 

Eventually, her children grew up, married and started their own families. It wasn’t long before the next generation was camping at the same retreat, playing in the same field and swimming in the same river. No one had to tell them where to go or what to do. They were provided with a vision, then made their own decisions to go where their hearts took them. 

Passing on knowledge comes as a great responsibility. The true test of our effectiveness is not in dictating where a person should go, but that they can receive the vision to get themselves there. 

Final brushstroke: As mothers, we think we know what our children need, but we don’t. I am reminded how Saul offered to give David his armor before going into battle. Never mind that it didn’t fit. David had enough understanding of his vision to know he didn’t need it. 

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