We had only been at our current church for a few weeks and I was still learning the ropes of Sunday mornings – when you’re married to the youth pastor, learning the ropes on a Sunday morning is important. While all the pastors are hard at work, their wives take the babies to church by themselves.

I walked down the crowded preschool hallway, the twins holding on to various parts of my coat while I carried my son awkward on my hip, balancing my purse and diaper bag. That’s when I saw him. As we passed the window looking into the two-year-old room, there was a man in the corner rocking chair, children scurrying about around him on knees and play-doh’d hands. And he held a violin. While some babies cried and others toddled around, this man played those God sounds with passion and insight and skill.

He was not a student trying to earn credits, or an intern filling his time sheet. He was a full-fledged professional. I am ashamed to tell you my first thought: What a waste of that beautiful music. These kids don’t even appreciate it. But since when does the effort of the artist depend upon the appreciation of the audience? Those little ears were worthy recipients. His art, his expression of God through the language of music, oh, how sweet a steward he was with it.

That happened three years ago, and it still makes me cry to think of it. Because that man in that small room was not trying to further his career by playing for those babies. He was simply gifting his art.

Sometimes the artist has to manage her art. She has to market it, promote it, sell it, professionalize it. Of course. But I don’t believe she ever has to ration it. If it is at all possible, make your art and be generous with the gift of it. Not to burn-out or to be taken advantage of. But to bless and to be a blessing.