Help! Nobody Liked My Art! | Matt Tommey

Engage Art | Artist to Artist, In the Know, Reflection & Growth | January 1, 2024

You did it. You’ve sent your artwork out into the world. 

But you didn’t get the response you thought you would. The likes are not stacking up on Instagram, and no one’s following you on Facebook. 

So what happens next—heartache? frustration? It doesn’t have to be that way!

Today, I’m tackling a common misunderstanding many Christian artists have when they connect their identity to what people think about their art. 

Constantly thinking about your performance and judging your worth by what others say about you is a real recipe for disaster. Many artists—Christian and nonChristian alike!—fall into this trap. You must work through this challenge to really thrive as the artist God created you to be. If you give in to these feelings of doubt, they can absolutely paralyze you. 

He’s After Your Heart

Why? Because the enemy is always after your heart. He will try to leverage anything about you that is not firmly grounded in the Lord’s identity—most of all, the parts that focus on what others think and how others perceive you. And more than likely, he will be able to use your doubt to manipulate you if you don’t understand who God has made you to be, agree with it, and intentionally nurture that truth until its roots are deep and secure. 

It doesn’t matter who you are, this identity challenge will rear its ugly head at some point. As a Christian artist, you need to address it if you want to grow and develop. Your growth will not be pegged to how good a marketer or artist you are. If your identity is tied up in what others think of you, you will never see sustained renewal, growth, joy, freedom, and authority in what you do.

Is this where I put the caption?

"Interpretation of War" by Janelle Bush. "My husband and I have been in a tough season and have felt the battle lately and it feels a little like this looks. It's tough, it's gritty, and most of all it's real. Neither our battle nor our weapons we fight with are physical, yet they're very tangible, in the same way our words are."

The Power of Community

Community can be a powerful tool that God can use to encourage and support you. However, community should never be the thing you lean on in place of developing a healthy identity. When you’re doing both—actively cultivating a healthy identity inside a healthy community—things really start to change.

When you have loving and supportive people who can recognize the identity God has designed for you, you become the son instead of the slave. Your path deviates from your Facebook and Instagram feeds. When something goes wrong, instead of destroying you, it becomes a trigger for an opportunity.

An Opportunity to Mature

An opportunity for what? To take control. For you to say, “Lord, I am not defined by what I do. I am not defined by what others think. I am defined by who You say I am.”

And who is that? Consider Ephesians 2:10. It discusses the balance between the design God created for your life and your responsibility to fulfill that design. It says, "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

"Kitsugi Strong" by Eva Crawford. "The mending process is life-giving."

You Are His Workmanship

Now, the first Kingdom truth I want you to grab onto is this: You Are His Workmanship.  The Greek word for "workmanship" is poema—the word that gave us the word “poem.” With that in mind, I want to paraphrase and expand on the first part of this verse:

"You are a skillfully crafted artistic narrative that expresses the beauty and the heart of God."

You are not here by some random chance or because of fate. You are explicitly designed as a work of art by the Lord for His Glory.

God Created You for a Purpose

The second Kingdom Truth I want to highlight is this: God Created You for a Purpose. "Created in Christ Jesus" is how Paul puts it, but what does that mean for us today? It means we are one with Christ Jesus, joint heirs with Him, empowered by the Holy Spirit, and fully able to receive and walk in the fullness of the Kingdom of God. 

But for what end? "For good works, which God prepared beforehand." God designed, crafted, and fully equipped you to express His nature and His Heart to humankind in a way that only you can do. You are the perfect person for this mission, should you choose to accept it, which brings me to the next truth.

"Hope" by Ahmed Alshalali. "Life is demolished and built, so the rays of light can not be stopped by the force of the night, however, a special tribute to the great moment of hope which emerge from the rubble of despair and ruin."

You Just Have To Do It

"That we should walk in them," or as another version puts it, "for us to do." Maybe you can relate to this: For many years, I thought that because God had a plan for my life, He was going to make it happen.  I believed that my role in fulfilling God's call for my life was to wait for Him to do it. Guess what? That led to a lot of frustration because that's NOT how the Kingdom works.

At the end, Ephesians 2:10 implies overt action. While it's true that God has a divine plan for your life, one that He's had in mind for you for a very long time, His plan is for you to do it with Him. If you don't embody what God created you to do, then you'll miss the fullness of God's design for your life.

"His Word is Armor" by Kip Ayers. "I depicted a herd of people who had fallen prey to the worship of money, and material wealth. Their eyes are closed, their hearts are nowhere to be seen. There is a dollar symbol glowing in their foreheads because money is always on their mind."

This Might Be Your Roadblock

But Matt, why is it so hard to "do" the thing God has called and created me to do?  The biggest roadblock most people face when fulfilling God's call for their lives is their mindset.

So many good, well-meaning, Jesus-loving people simply don't know who they are in Christ. Despite being fully saved, they allow their old way of thinking, their non-renewed mind, to dominate their life. They are ruled by things like:

  • Fear
  • Anxiety
  • Perfectionism
  • Striving
  • Feelings of Worthlessness
  • The Imposter Syndrome (click here for my podcast on this)
  • Unwillingness to Mature

These characteristics keep people from being everything that God has called and created them to be. I know they held me back for a long time. They may be keeping you from your life’s work right now. If so, I want to encourage you to do what Romans 12:2 teaches and "be transformed by the renewing of your mind."

When your identity is healed and you begin to cultivate your identity in Christ, then the foundation is set for all other growth. That is the rock. Your life as an artist, your skill, your business acumen, and every other thing outside your identity in Christ is shifting sand.


This article was originally published by Matt Tommey in 2020 and is adapted with his permission from https://www.matttommeymentoring.com/. Matt Tommey is an artist, internationally-known Christian speaker, and the author of 7 books who is passionate about helping artists thrive spiritually, artistically, and in business. He is a mentor to artists around the world through his Created to Thrive Artist Mentoring Program and also hosts The Thriving Christian Artist Podcast. Find more resources from Matt at https://www.matttommeymentoring.com/.

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