Imagery of Regent people and campus

National Christian Recording Artist Visits Alma Mater

| November 5, 2007

Jason Upton

Jason Upton is an artist who separates himself from his art.

Upton, a Regent University alumnus '00 (Divinity) and well-established recording artist, led a chapel service and follow-up discussion session at the university. Dressed in blue jeans and a red, plaid button-down shirt, Upton improvised breaks throughout his musical performance to share about life, creativity, inspiration and humility.

According to Upton, both in chapel and in the follow-up session, inspiration for art--such as music, writing and painting--comes from life experience that is void of striving to create something that will please people.

"Inspiration, creativity and song-lyrics are all around you and it is in Him [God], the words are found in life experience," Upton said.

This revelation of separating the strife for art from the artist came from a defining moment when Upton was trying to write lyrics for a song while his young daughter was banging on the piano. While at first this distraction was a hindrance to his composition, the moment that Upton transitioned from musician to dad and played with her was the same moment that inspiration for lyrics came to him.

It's no surprise that Upton's four role models are historical figures who did not focus on their talent and were "just themselves." They are also people relevant to all generations--Bob Dylan, Mother Theresa, Billy Graham and Johnny Cash.

Upton reiterated that to be a front-runner and visionary, one must be prepared to go against the grain of culture and face dislike and rejection.

"You must be ready to start making change rather than conform to a world that is trying to change you," Upton said. "Some of us have been created to be red birds but at a time when it is blue birds that are cool and hip. You wonder why you have missed your calling--it is because you have been coloring yourselves."

In the follow-up discussion session, Upton expanded on his ideas by illustrating the temptation of Jesus as cited in the Gospel of Matthew. Jesus' main temptation was to prove Himself and then to prove God. Upton connected this thought with the agenda of artists. The temptation of Christian artists is to strive for man's approval and sometimes to even prove God through talent.

"God wants you to float, not to strive," Upton said. He also noted that it is important to realize that it was the spirit that led Jesus to be tempted.

"We are drawn away from the Lord with something that is already in us," Upton said. "God's test is one that He believes we will pass. Do you really trust Him? We get so bogged down by stuff that we are missing out on how to live." The integration of Upton's heart and views into the chapel performance were quite visible to his audience, as his music brought tears to many eyes.

"I focus on being pure of heart and free," Upton explained. "You don't have to prove God; you don't have to prove yourself. The goal of leadership is to get connected with the Father and not my style."


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