By Hollywood Connect
Hi Hollywood Connect,
I've been reading your articles, and I've found them immensely helpful. I think the big question for me is do I have the talent to succeed. I'm assuming that if God wants me in the industry, not only will He give me the desire but He will also give me the talent.
How does one know if one has the talent to succeed? I've jumped from job to job and I've dreamed about moving down to LA but I didn't believe I could make it. I’m still wondering, does God want me in Hollywood? How does one know? Also, I don't have any experience with film/video making - how does one know if one has the talent to succeed? Am I right in assuming that God must give you both the call and the talent? So, if I don't have the talent, then I probably am not being called. And perhaps, I just have a fascination with Hollywood, as many others do.
In terms of acting, I have auditioned for a few plays but haven't been cast. When is it time to assume that perhaps God hasn't gifted me in that way? Yet, I hear all the time of how Oscar winners were rejected time and time again. How did you realize that you have talent?
Thanks for your time!
You are asking several different questions in your letter. Let me try to give you my perspective, addressing them one at a time and in a different order than you have written them.
1. How do you know if God is calling you to Hollywood? This is a pretty deep question, because it doesn’t necessarily have that much to do with Hollywood per se. That is, the question really could be stated on a much broader level: How do you know when God is calling you anywhere? Several people have written about this subject on various levels and in various ways (see, for example, Experiencing God: Knowing and Doing the Will of God by Henry T. Blackaby and Claude V. King), and I’ll let you explore some of those books on your own.
It wouldn’t be correct to say that there will be one and only one specific way that God will reveal what He is calling you to do. In reading through the Bible, He seemed to employ a whole lot of different ways to get individuals’ attention, including speaking directly and audibly, or making it clear through circumstances, or sending prophecies or dreams, or speaking internally by the Holy Spirit. God even went so far as to make a donkey talk to one guy. (Numbers 22) For me, He used several of these ways (not including a donkey) to let me know that He was calling me here. However, far be it from me to suggest how God will let you know what His calling is for you.
With that said, I do find that God’s calling for a person often seems to fall into a small area where three aspects of life intersect: her passions, her dreams and her strengths.
I like to describe a person’s passions as being a “matter of the heart” – it’s when you have a strong emotional wish for or inclination towards something. It is often described broadly and conceptually, and often it can be contained in very short phrase: for example, a passion for helping the impoverished, or a passion for world missions, or a passion for music. By itself, however, a passion does not tell you what your specific calling is. For example, you may have a passion for music, but that doesn’t tell you whether you should be in a rock band or become a music teacher or run a music store. With that said, however, I’ve found that, for a healthy Christian, her calling is almost never outside of her passions.
Your dreams are a “matter of the mind” – they deal with what you can imagine or conceive. They are stated more specifically than your passions are and usually in terms of what you would like to do or become. For example, I could say that I dream of becoming the banjo player in a touring bluegrass band (which isn’t the case, but you know what I mean). As with passions, your dreams alone don’t tell you what your calling is. In my example, I may have the passion for music and the dream of becoming a world-touring bluegrass banjo player, but it’s a real problem that I don’t know how play the banjo.
So there is one other area that needs to be part of the equation: my strengths – which are a “matter of the abilities.” The strengths may be spiritual (such as those listed in Romans 12 and I Corinthians 12), physical (such as the ability to write, act, play soccer… or banjo), emotional (such as empathy), or intellectual (a good memory or the ability to think visually). Again, your strengths alone don’t tell you what your calling is – you may have the ability, let’s say, to tie a cherry stem into a knot using just your tongue, but I doubt that you have any passion or dream that involves that strength.
I’ve found that your calling usually falls somewhere in that unique mixture of passions, dreams, and strengths that God has given you. The question of whether God has called you to Hollywood right now can be answered by doing an honest analysis to see whether it falls within your mixture of passions, dreams, and strengths.
2. Do you assume that God will give you both the calling and the talent if He wants you to go to Hollywood? When is it time to assume that God hasn’t gifted you with the talent? When you look at the concept of calling in the way I’ve described above, it makes it easier to determine what your own calling is. But it is important to remember two things: 1) You should not necessarily confuse your talent with your calling, and 2) any of your passions, dreams, and strengths can grow or diminish over time, and so, as we saw with Biblical examples like David or Moses, your calling can change as well.
If you automatically equate your talent – or your lack of talent – with your calling, you can find yourself heading down some wrong roads. That is, just because you can do something well doesn’t necessarily mean you should do it.
On the other hand, just because you can’t do something well doesn’t necessarily mean you shouldn’t try to do it all. The nice thing is that, while some people are blessed with natural talent and giftings, those people are few and far between. Most people have to exercise and develop their strengths. The fact that you may not have a particular talent right now doesn’t mean that you can’t work hard to have that talent. In fact, Jesus indicates that is how God views the strengths He blesses us with – He wants us to exercise them to make them increase. (Matt. 25:14-30)
How does this relate to whether you should come to Hollywood or not? I assume from your letter that you are considering acting. The entertainment industry is a tough and competitive business that requires you to be good at what you do. And for Christians, the stakes are even higher, since we want to be excellent at what we do as an act of worship. If, after careful and honest self-inspection, you don’t yet have the strengths to be excellent in the Hollywood industry, then I would suggest that it isn’t yet time to head for Tinsel Town.
That doesn’t mean that you will never be called here. If you find that your talent level isn’t high enough at this point, that doesn’t mean that you should assume that God hasn’t gifted you in that area. You mentioned that you don’t have any experience in film or video, so perhaps now is the time to develop your abilities – your acting skills, your knowledge of the industry, your networking skills, and so on – so that you will be able to come out when you are ready. Let your dreams and passions serve as the incentive to work hard so that you will be ready.
Only you will be able to determine honestly where you are in that process, but it sounds like you are taking the time to think it through. Perhaps it is time to come to Hollywood, or perhaps it is better for you to continue developing yourself so you know exactly what God wants to do with your passions and dreams.
3. How do you know if you have the talent to succeed? First, be careful not to make the mistake of confusing success and talent – there are many very talented people who come to Hollywood and, for one reason or another, do not succeed. (I hate to say it, but there are also some fairly untalented people who do succeed.)
Second, remember that God never called us to be successful – He called us to be fruitful. Being fruitful is our responsibility, while, ultimately, success comes from Him. Be diligent with your passions, dreams, and strengths – no matter where you reside – producing fruit, and that, in itself is a victory.
Finally, no matter where your talent level is right now, it is something that God has given you. Begin to view it as your act of worship to use your talents however you can. That way, no matter what happens with you in terms of a full-blown career in Hollywood, your abilities will be used for His glory.
This has turned into a rather long reply, Emily, but I hope you know that the folks at Hollywood Connect are praying that God will bring the right people to Hollywood. Whether it is your time or not, you can join us in that prayer, as well as prayers for the believers who are already here – we need your support, encouragement and prayers. And continue to pray that God will make you into the person He created you to be – I can tell you from personal experience that He is pleased with that prayer, and He will answer!
Blessings to you as you continue to ask these great questions and explore His will for you!
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