Transform Your Thinking, Transform Your WorkBlog / Produced by The High Calling
Joe was a good athlete in high school. He was one of the stars on our basketball team and our baseball team. But his real talent was art. Joe could paint. None of us were surprised when he decided to major in art education at college.
One time I visited Joe’s office, and there was a new black and white photo hanging on the wall. It was a great close-up of an NFL running back at field level.
“How did you get on the field for that photo,” I asked.
“It’s a painting,” Joe said very matter-of-fact.
“No!” I said. It couldn’t be a painting. But it was. I stood about a foot from the picture for a long time, just staring at what Joe had captured with his brush. I was awed. I suppose that’s obvious since this story and that painting are still vivid memories to me thirty-five years later.
Another time, I walked into Joe’s office and was under-whelmed. Two new pieces were hanging on his wall. I saw them across the room as I stood in the doorway. One piece was a print of Van Gogh’s self-portrait. Hanging next to it was Joe’s version of the same self-portrait. I told Joe it was a nice piece, but in my heart I knew it wasn’t nearly as good as the black-and-white painting.
Then I walked closer to the self-portraits and realized what Joe had done. His version was not a painting, but a collage of tissue paper. There must have been thousands of tiny cuttings of paper arranged like a mosaic. My impression of the piece changed dramatically. I couldn’t believe how closely Joe had captured the image and style of the artist using tiny pieces of paper.
What Joe could do was magical in my eyes. His art work transformed the ordinary and stretched the limits of my imagination. He took what looked like a nice action photo and turned it into an engaging detailed depiction of a sport I was beginning to take for granted. Joe let me see football with fresh eyes.
Then when I saw the self-portrait and Joe’s collage interpretation, it affected me deeply. Joe’s art helped me look at the world differently than I had before. He never said anything to me with words. We didn’t talk about worldviews or anything. Joe’s art spoke to me on its own. It transformed me.
Here at TheHighCalling.org, we are always thinking about how God is with us in our common activities and common interests. We also take aesthetics very seriously. Beauty transforms us. God invites us to create beauty for the world and to use our talents for him—and for most of us that means we need to transform our thinking. Our routine, ordinary, everyday activities contain beauty. Our work can be a work of art.
The Greeks had a word for the transformation process—metanoia. It’s usually translated as “repent,” and it means to turn away from something and go in a new direction. The process of turning is a process of transformation.
We’ve had a bit of a transformation here at TheHighCalling.org this week with our newly redesigned and merged website. Over the course of the year, we reexamined our talents and the people who’ve come alongside us in community. We recognize God’s grace actively engaged in our work. We’re making conscious decisions to follow the workings of that grace in the structure of our editorial team, the design of our website, and the functionality of our community tools.
There is an art to web design and social media. There is an art to good code. It changes us. Art brings order to chaos. Art has aesthetic beauty and ethical goodness. Art is more than just excellent, it is moral.
Your work is a high calling. Your work is an art. So is mine.
Photograph “Paris - Musée d'Orsay: Vincent Van Gogh's Portrait de l'artiste“ used under a Creative Commons license.