First of all, I have to start by saying that I am a huge Erwin McManus fan. My friend Robbie introduced me to McManus’s preaching back in 2008 and ever since that time, I’ve been hooked. When I heard that The Artisan Soul, Erwin’s 9th book was coming out, I was immediately intrigued. Unlike many of his other books, The Artisan Soul, tackles something I’ve had a last preoccupation with: creativity. The jacket description of the book calls The Artisan Soul “a manifesto for human creativity and the beginning of a new renaissance.” While the claim of starting a new renaissance is definitely bold, it takes boldness to initiate change.
Throughout the book, McManus tackles various facets of the creative process with a combination of stories, Biblical parallels, and personal anecdotes. The first item he addresses is the inner voice or tension or narrative that drives us to create and express ourselves. It has influence over how we interpret our circumstances. It shapes how we express ourselves through our work, hobbies, and human interactions. And it directs us to become the people God intended us to be. McManus points out that when we are listening to God’s voice, we discover our own. This allows us to live out the destinies that God has planned for each of us.
The next item Erwin address is how we interpret our lives and the things that happen to us. Everyday living can have such a profound impact on how we view the world and express ourselves creatively that it’s worth considering at a deeper level. McManus insinuates that a positive interpretation of what we’ve experienced combined with a mindset that our stories are worth sharing is what allows us to have a profound impact on other people. In a world obsessed with social media, I found this section to be a bit challenging considering the pressure things like Instagram and Twitter create to portray ourselves in a certain light. Nevertheless, McManus uses the story of Job to show that even the most rotten circumstances ultimately create a story that can have a powerful impact on others.
One of the easier aspects of creativity to understand, imagination, McManus discusses next. I don’t have a whole lot to say about this section seeing as the manifestation of dreams is a fairly easy concept to understand, but it’s importance isn’t lost here in The Artisan Soul. The book does an excellent job of stressing the nature of imagination being closely tied to intricate planning and attention to detail. I think sometimes we get sucked into a rapid fire mentality when it comes to dreams, but as McManus points out, even God paid careful attention to what He was doing when he created the earth.
Mastery of our creative expression comes next on the list of items The Artisan Soul covers. Essentially I’d say that this can be summed up as expressing our stories in the most natural, fully developed, and expressive way possible. It takes years for most people to master their “craft,” but when they do the results are inspiring. As Erwin points out, this takes tenacity, hard work, character, and integrity, but it is through those things God shapes us into the people He has destined us to become.
The final component to The Artisan Soul is the “canvas” on which we chose to express ourselves. This canvas can be virtually anything and certainly doesn’t have to be a traditional medium of art. If you read the book, you’ll see an ongoing theme of people who are painting a canvas that isn’t a sheet of fabric in the traditional sense, but a means to tell their stories and live out their God-given destinies.
Overall I thought The Artisan Soul was a very thought provoking and motivating book for expressing one’s self creatively. I know there are some people who will take it to be an order to go out and discover how to express themselves as fast as they can, but that’s not really the point. I think the point McManus makes is that this is a lifelong process, but if you make the decision to pursue it now, you can’t go wrong. If you’re looking for a self-help, get-out-of-a-funk type of book, The Artisan Soul isn’t it. But if you’re interested in thinking about your gifts and talents in a new light, this might be worth your time.
Buy The Artisan Soul