Success for the Christian artist or creative person can be hard to define and often paradoxical in nature. As Andrew Peterson talks about in this video, success sometimes looks, not like shining in the spotlight, but instead sinking into the background and letting your creation live on its own.
The entire video is above, and the complete transcript is below.
Success for me usually involves me kind of like sinking into the background of whatever it is that I’ve made.
I know when I wrote the song, “Is He Worthy?” and Chris Tomlin and Shane & Shane and a few other people recorded the song. And I would see videos of people singing the song and congregations of people singing it and nobody in the room knew that I wrote the song. I was utterly delighted by that fact.
The way that I put it is it’s kinda like you want the kids to grow up and move out of the house and get their own jobs. So the feeling of knowing that something that I had made, the cell had split and it was off doing its own thing regardless of who wrote it, it was a delightful feeling.
And I think the hymn writers are that way. It’s like when you sing a hymn it belongs to the Church and when you’re really connecting with it, what you’re thinking about is God Himself. You’re thinking about Christ and you’re not thinking about the guy the wrote the song.
On the other hand, there is something really powerful about learning the story of the hymn, but I think that the songwriter would always rather you move past that and aim it at the object of our desire.
I remember on the Christmas tour a few years ago I lost my voice and was really struggling with singing the songs. And by the time we got to the song, “Behold the Lamb of God,” which is kind of the climax of the show and it’s the song that is the most difficult for me to sing, the audience kind of took over. The whole show I was dreading making it to that song and when I got to the song, I realized that the room was singing it for me. And I was able to step back from the mic and let this thing kind of be its own thing. And I couldn’t stop crying.
It was just a good picture to me of like what all of us as artists want hopefully is to reach a point where we can fade into the background and God is now filling this thing with life of its own.
And so that’s how it feels for me. I think The Wingfeather Saga is that way to a point where when a kid, when a little kid reads a book and they’re lost in the book, they aren’t thinking about who the author was. This world feels very real to them.
And if you can achieve that and realize that the guy that wrote the song is far less important than the thing the song is pointing to, then that I think is success.