Lessons From The Starving Artist
Artists And Apologists
I recently read the wonderfully thought-provoking book Real Artists Don’t Starve by Jeff Goins. With an endless supply of fascinating stories, Goins illustrates how artists today can thrive in their work. However, his advice is not limited to artists. People working in various fields of study can learn valuable lessons from this book, especially apologists.
Goins begins every chapter with a statement contrasting the starving artist and the thriving artist, for example:
“The starving artist believes he can be creative anywhere. The thriving artist goes where creative work is already happening.”
I have adapted some of his thoughts by contrasting the ineffective apologist and the effective apologist.
What Kind Of Apologist Are You?
The ineffective apologist strives to be original. The effective apologist steals from his influences.
I’ve had many conversations with young aspiring apologists who said they had an “original” thought. Typically, these ideas are flawed at best and heresy at their worst.
Don’t try to be original. Learn and build on the tried and true.
The ineffective apologist thinks he is the master. The effective apologist learns from the masters.
I’ve seen so many young apologists disregard a master apologist because of a difference in theology or opinion. I know people who refuse to learn from William Lane Craig because he isn’t a staunch young earth creationist, Norman Giesler because he isn’t a Calvinist, and Ravi Zacharias because he tells too many stories.
Don’t throw out the apologist with the bathwater. If you’re going to learn, there is nowhere better to turn than the masters.
The ineffective apologist is stubborn about everything. The effective apologist is stubborn about the right things.
Many apologists tend to be stubborn and argumentative about all the wrong things. While they can argue for hours about the tiniest details of free will, many put very little effort in properly defending or using the book their faith is based upon.
Always be stubborn about the core doctrines of your faith. Don’t be stubborn about everything else.
The ineffective apologist works alone. The effective apologist collaborates with others.
The greatest time of apologetics learning for me was in college where I got a BA in worldview and apologetics. Once I graduated, it seemed like my apologetic learning drastically slowed down. It puzzled me why that was. I was teaching apologetics regularly. I was still reading and listening to lectures. What was I missing? In short: community.
In college, I had a solid group of apologetic-minded friends who all served a part in sharpening my thinking. Dr. Travis Kerns, head of the apologetics department, always made time in class for conversation about the lecture and our reading. When I remember something I learned from college, I rarely remember learning the idea from a book. Rather, I remember the conversations we had about those books.
Community is essential for growth. Don’t be a loner.
The ineffective apologist hordes knowledge for himself. The effective apologist communicates his thoughts to others.
Apologetics is becoming a necessity for effective Christian evangelism, and the apologist must share his knowledge with his sisters and brothers in Christ. This will encourage and improve evangelism for all parties.
There is a great tragedy I’ve seen. I’ve met so many men who are well studied in apologetics and keep it all to themselves. They aren’t even engaging with unbelievers. I was once talking to a small group of guys who were all apologetic aficionados, but the conversation got awkward when I asked them when was the last time they ever used apologetics. It turns out, none of them could think of even one time.
Both believers and unbelievers need you to share your knowledge. Don’t sit on it. Use it!
The ineffective apologist masters one topic. The effective apologist masters many.
Who says you can’t have more than one area of expertise? Sure, you may focus your studies on a sole topic for a period of time, but if all you can do is defend your view of creation, you are sorely lacking in your apologetic. If all you can do is argue for a god but do little to convince them of the truth that is found in Jesus Christ, your apologetic needs to be broadened.
Don’t be a one trick pony. Be an expert on a range of apologetic issues.
What Do I Do Now?
How do I find an apologetics community?
For starters, there is excellent apologetic community to be found online. The best place to go is the Christian Apologetics Alliance (CAA) on Facebook.
While online community is good, face to face is far superior. Do you know anyone else who is into apologetics? Make sure you hang out with these guys! Plan on meeting up every month to talk about what you’re learning. If you don’t know any apologists near you, ask on the CAA. Who knows, there may already be a community of apologists in your area. If not, start one yourself.
How can I branch out in my apologetic study?
Thrive, Don’t Starve
It is one of my greatest hopes that the church will thrive with effective apologetics in a world that is starving for the truth. I am trying to do my part. I hope you will too.
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