Though I still love Kandinsky I have to show some love to Vincent van Gogh. Many may not know that he was a missionary early in life and tried to become a minister but failed in theology school and was fired from his missionary post for actually following in Christ foot steps and living among the poor miners he ministered to; he actually slept on the floor and lived in poverty by choice. The church felt his choice demeaned the office of minister-wow what spiritual ignorance. What many may not know is that Van Gogh’s most well known work Starry Night is a powerful indictment on the church because all the buildings in the painting have lights that are turned on except–the church. Starry Night always challenges me to consider about my role as a faith-based organizer and spiritual person-is the light of Christ turned on in my life? On one hand I have always wondered (with indignation) what the church lost because Van Gogh was not allowed to minister, but the Holy Spirit allowed me to see that by being kicked out of the church Van Gogh’s purpose was able to expand so that generations are able to benefit from his art. Sometimes our anointing and gifts are too expansion for the church, but I don’t want to start preaching so I will let you all meditate on that! “Van Gogh aspired to become an artist in God’s service, stating: “…to try to understand the real significance of what the great artists, the serious masters, tell us in their masterpieces, that leads to God; one man wrote or told it in a book; another in a picture.” Van Gogh can teach us much about what true ministry is and the role of depression in the lives of many artist and clergy(yes many clergy suffer with depression even Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King faced bouts of depression).
Personally, I have struggled with depression and though I am healed from the darkest bouts, to stay in that healing I have to lean on God’s grace, seek out help and make choices each day to live in joy.
What can the life and work of Van Gogh teach us about the role of depression in the lives of ministers and artist?
Note: as I understand Van Gogh my have lost his faith after being rejected by a woman he was pursuing and her family, but anyone who walks this path of faith knows that there are ups and downs and so we can not judge the final destination his journey.