Arts and Works: Delighting Grace Interviews Quits Sabio

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While searching for pastors with sermons online for my blog series, a friend recommended me to consider Quits Sabio. Although he has no audio or video sermons online, a pastor having a blog is a plus for me. As I check him out, look at his blog and his websites, I’m impress with his bi-vocation career. And I think many will consider it a cool job. Also, he and his wife is into painting. So an interview must happen :-). And here it is.   We ask Quits about being a game developer, the industry, him being bi-vocation and the biblical view of creativity and arts.

Delighting Grace: Hello pastor. Can you tell us something about yourself?

Quits Sabio: I’m Enriqueto Sabio, but you may call me Quits. A husband to Malou and a father to our only princess, Amara. I’m bi-vocational; an elder at Sovereign Mercy Evangelical Church (SMEC) for almost 5 years now, and the current Technical Director of Funguy Studio. My wife and I love music and arts. In our spare time, we paint and play some music together.

Delighting Grace: How is the game developers industry here in the Philippines? How did you get into the job? It seems to be a dream job for some.

Quits Sabio: Game development industry in the Philippines is booming. Partly because of the height of mobile market here, and we have a lot of creative minds who worked on popular international titles in the recent decade. Not only that, most of our development companies offer diverse services. Spanning from games and onto enterprise applications, and multiple platforms such as mobile (ios, android, windows), console, pc/mac, vr/ar and many more.

How did I get into the job? I just posted some of my prototypes online after graduation, then one day I received a phone call from them. That’s how it happened and It is all grace. This is my first job and I haven’t left ever since.

Delighting Grace: What are the ups and down in your secular career?

Quits Sabio: The downside in my profession as a game developer is the constant need to meet the demands of our clients. Sometimes they’ll call you even on weekends or holidays just because there’s a bug in the game that needs fixing. But the upside is high pay grade. Definitely worth the effort. That is why by God’s grace I’m able to provide a little help in lifting some of the burden from our local church financially. Having said that, I still find some time to minister to God’s flock and be with my family. The other downside though is that sometimes I missed important company meetings and outings, because weekend is non negotiable for me.

Delighting Grace: So you’re a pastor and has secular work. And you manage to blog too. How do you manage being bi-vocational?

Quits Sabio: Currently, I only work three times a week in the office, and twice I have to work from home. With that setup, by God’s grace, I can still lead a bible study every Monday, prayer meeting on a Friday, a monthly visitation for each family, and corporate worship on a Sunday. For sermon preparation, I allocate an hour or so each day to read and be familiarized with the text and then I’ll work on my manuscript for the whole day of Friday and Saturday. That’s what my week looks like regularly. Of course that’s not always the case when I was just starting out on both of my vocations. I struggled a lot because I had to work at the office five times a week. But through God’s providence, eventually I got promoted, and so now I have the luxury of time.

I think the best way to manage your time is to prioritize what’s most important, namely God, then everything will fall into its right places.

Delighting Grace: Wow that’s indeed God’s providence. Pastor, your work requires being creative as well as artistic.  So what’s the biblical view of creativity and arts?

Quits Sabio: A biblical view of creativity and arts is not that far from how we view objective reality around us. Just like how nature reveals the glory of God and His invisible attributes, a true art must reflect the  Author of the good, the true and the beautiful. In other words, there really is such a thing as beautiful artwork and an ugly artwork, good music and bad music. I don’t buy the secular mentality that beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. That it’s all subjective. Yes, we may respond to it subjectively, but the criteria for good art is not subjective. There are some criteria for beauty such as form, symmetry and asymmetry, color harmony, contrast and values(light and shadows). It must represent truth even though what you’re portraying is a fiction. Meaning, behind the imagery are objective realities. And if it is to be good, it must either explicitly or implicitly reflect God’s holy character. So just as there’s a standard for morality, there’s also a standard for beauty, namely God.

Delighting Grace: What are the common misconceptions of arts & creativity held by Christians?

Quits Sabio: One common misconception that comes to my mind is the idea that for an artwork to be considered as “Christian Art”, the subject must be biblical figures and events. That is not the case though. Art can be considered a “Christian Art” as long as the Christian artist did it to glorify God. To quote R.C. Sproul; “art is its own justification.” If it attest to God’s beauty and majesty, then it is a Christian art.

Second, as I mentioned earlier, is the notion that beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. God himself declared that his creation was good only after he brought order to the void of Genesis 1:2. Also when God commissioned the construction of the temple, He gave precise materials, measurements, colors and form.

Thirdly, and probably the most controversial one, is the issue of portraying the Son of God in paintings, sculptures and even in movies. To understand the issue better, I would encourage you to read the article “Graven Images” from Ligonier.

In the article Robert Letham said;

“Where We Agree. Reformed theology believes in icons too. The idea of image (eikôn) is a biblical category — man made in the image of God, Christ the image of the invisible God. However, beyond this, everything is iconic for the Reformed. God has imprinted evidence of His own beauty and glory throughout creation. “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork” (Ps. 19:1–2). What Calvinism did was to enable a this-worldly appreciation of beauty. By eliminating art and sculpture from church worship, it drove it into the world, placing the aesthetic in the context of general revelation, as the witness to God in the world rather than as the focus of the worship of God in the church.”

Basically, what he’s saying is that creating icons or images of any sort is not evil in itself, as long as it’s meant to point us to God within the realm of general revelation. Like how the natural world points us to His glory, and not to replace Him as the object of adoration within the context of church worship. Having said that, the debate rages on even within the Reformed camp to this day. So one must be careful when handling this issue. I for one, don’t paint images of Christ and don’t own one. But when I’m watching movies that does portray Jesus, or when I expressed admiration to the artistry involved in Da Vinci’s Last Supper, I know that I’m not worshipping those images. I know that it’s just an image pointing me to the real one, just like how the heavens declare the glory of God. If that image drives me to God’s word where I’ll find the accurate portrayal of Christ, then that’s fine with me.

Delighting Grace: Now let’s bring those we have talked about in one bag. How do we nurture believers in pursuing a diverse vocation say game developer?

Quits Sabio: Create an environment where they will discover their giftedness. If it is creative arts and music, expose your people to art history. The remarkable thing is, much of the good artworks and music ever composed, or created were from periods and eras where Christian worldview flourished.

For computer programming, just as in biblical exegesis, it requires much thinking. I know this could be a stretch for others, but for me, my training in exegesis and hermeneutics helped me on how to understand programming languages and vice versa. Attention to details is necessary if you really want to have a career on game development.

So we should promote high level of thinking, and at the same time appreciation for good music and arts.

Delighting Grace:  If a young believer seek counsel to you in the matters of which career path he will take, he is choosing either what he is passionate about like graphic design or practical like being a nurse or engineer, what will you advise to him? Will it change if he is a family man?

Quits Sabio: It doesn’t have to be either or. Choose what is practical and you’re passionate about. For me, being a game programmer is very practical and yet is very close to what I’m passionate about, namely creative arts. I think that answers the second question too. It doesn’t have to change if you’re a family man.

Delighting Grace: Thank you pastor for your time. Please invite us check you out and some of your works

Quits Sabio: Thank you for this opportunity, Delighting Grace! You can check out some of my articles through our church’s website at Sovereign Mercy and through Reformed Exegetes Society. For my artworks, just visit MMS Music and Arts.