Letters to a Kingdom Artist

Working Well Alone but Better Together

To all my Creatives out there, I want to talk to you about something that I will preach until the day that I die: The importance of collaboration and support.

As Creatives and Christians, I find that we are adopting the one-man mentality.  The “I can do bad all by myself” spirit and that is a no-no in the Kingdom of God. When I sit and observe what is going on in the Christian creative culture, I see a lot of competition rather than collaboration. I want to challenge you to take the veil from your eyes and see it too.

My question to you is, why should we feel the need to compete against our brother/sister if we are confident in our gift and what God has called us to do? I think we often forget that we are not the only ones on earth with any particular gift. How many writers, singers or musicians do you see out there? Plenty, and more will keep rising up every day. But let me tell you a little secret. Actually, scratch that, here’s a big secret – THERE IS ROOM FOR ALL OF US.

We have to get away from the mentality that someone is coming to take our spot and stop us from walking in our gift. We act like the old workers when a new person comes into a job. You know what I mean? When they stare and roll their eyes and give attitude to the new co-workers when they are asked to show them the ropes. As if they are saying to themselves, ” I shouldn’t be teaching you anything because you are probably here to take my job.” This is not, I repeat, this is not how we should behave as Christian creatives.

How about supporting each other, and not only supporting another person because you collaborated with them either, because your friend is collaborating with them or some other underhanded reason. How about supporting them because you recognise that they are good at what they do, and because they are your brother/sister in Christ. Those of the kingdom of darkness do not work against each other so why do we behave the way we do?

It’s like when you ask someone where they got their dress from and they act like they can’t remember when they only bought it a couple days before. They don’t want you to have what they have for some reason as if you buying the same dress would cause a major issue in their life. Both of y’all can wear the same dress and rock it in your own way.

For me, I see it differently to most and I believe that is why God has blessed me so much. If anyone reaches out to me for help on something I am good at, my first instinct is to help as much as I can and let me tell you why. If God calls both of us to do the same thing, it means that He will not leave us high and dry, we will both make it. 

I started my publishing company under the guidance of God in 2017. I remember a friend I know who lives in the United States coming to me about starting a publishing company. My first reaction was to genuinely congratulate her, and then ask, “How can I help you?” I talked to her about the ins and outs of publishing and told her to make sure she asked me anything she needed to know, no matter what time of the day it was.

Did I feel threatened at the fact that she was now going into the same thing as me? Of course not. I believed that I went before her in order to help her. Through my experiences, I was then able to be there for her to help make her process easier. Even though we run in the same circles, she will touch many lives that I will not and I will touch lives that she will not. God called us both into this thing so it means He will send the clients to make sure we get our daily bread. That is what collaboration instead of competition looks like. 

Dear Creative, I want to implore you to be supportive and encouraging. Helping someone else will not take away your shine. Imagine that you are a lovely mahogany chair with much detail and you are shining after a polish. You are perfect and whole on your own. Now open your mind and imagine three more chairs and a table being added to the mix. What do you get? A lovely dining room set. Working well individually, but working beautifully together.

You will NEVER fail when you choose to be supportive of others. Do some introspection today and ask yourself, “Am I being competitive or am I using my gift the right way. Am I being supportive or am I being selfish with what God has given me?” We are all here to edify each other so let’s do just that and watch how each of us will grow in our craft. Do you know the song from Sesame Street which says, “Cooperation makes it happen?” Well, Collaboration makes it happen as well. Try it. I promise you won’t regret it. Peace, love and understanding.

About the Writer: Shaniqua Howell-Forde is a devout Christian and graduate of the West Indies School of Theology. She is an author of seven books, and CEO of Shelev Publishing [@shelevpublishing], founder of Unearthing Her Ministries and the wife of Pastor Gershon Forde.

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