Posts Tagged ‘creativity’

A popular teaching among Christians emphasizes a person’s weaknesses and God’s ability to work with them to create strength [2nd Corinthians 12:9] and I don’t necessarily disagree. But perhaps we have lost sight of the importance of gifted strengths.

I Peter 4:10
Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.
[NIV 1984] or As each of you has received a gift (a particular spiritual talent, a gracious divine endowment), employ it for one another as [befits] good trustees of God’s many-sided grace [faithful stewards of the extremely diverse powers and gifts granted to Christians by unmerited favor]. [Amplified]

I have given a number of workshops on problem solving and the core usually revolves around some type of brainstorming, a wild explosion of crazy ideas tossed onto the table without concern for viability or ridiculousness. It’s a tool for tackling that worn-out saying, “think outside the box.” It’s a tool for generating creativity.

But many people will shy away from this term, creativity, saying they don’t have it. I disagree. I believe everyone is creative to one degree or another. Most people put some energy into selecting clothes in the morning, making a meal, purchasing an item, planning a party or other event, etc. These decisions are made out of that creative place within. It’s directing oneself toward an end. It’s seeing beforehand, it’s dreaming and imagining.

Divine gifts: some people nurture their creativity and as a result, it is more accessible to them. But everyone has it, because God is creative. And we are extensions of God’s mind. And it’s a definite strength, foundational to human, unique and elastic.

But we must also remember that gifts are a personal responsibility. Like the parable of the talents [Mathew 25:14-30], we have to administer the gifts entrusted to us: we have to use them, not exercise false modesty saying, “Oh, I couldn’t do that.” Baloney.

I understand there are concerns about working our talents and, as a result, getting prideful or self-absorbed. But it’s not the gift that’s the problem, it’s the motive.

It’s the same misunderstanding many people have about money, thinking that money is evil, when it’s the “love of money” that strangles the soul [I Timothy 6:10].

Perhaps we should all try this: create a resume for serving God and others.

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Do we still honor the builder? I think not. I am as guilty as anyone else. Sometimes, I can’t remember the author of a book, much less an architect. I was terrible at “music memory” in grammar school and worse at signers of the declaration of independence.

Hebrews 3:2b-4
. . . just as Moses was faithful in all God’s house. Jesus has been found worthy of greater honor than Moses, just as the builder of a house has greater honor than the house itself. For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything.

Instead, I get absorbed by the end result, the “house,” the object.

This morning, a friend and I spent a couple of hours at Panera Church over latte and coffee discussing how differently she looks at humanity than she did five years ago. For so long, she said, it was still about “us and them”–the believers and the non-believers. “Thems” were a shadow of humanity: they were out and we were in. They were a house without rooms. They were a shell. But now, she finds herself within the teeming masses of people, all built by the hand of God, all sacred in a way that only God can create. She sees the builder behind the human.

There are people who are still building and using their creativity. There are inventors struggling to find a place for their inventions (they even have their own reality show now); creative artists abound, longing for ways to get their work out to the general public, to share their creations. For these people, they are giving out a part of themselves. Painters, writers, composers, craftsmen, architects, and many more creators, are trying to tell us: this is how I see the world, come with me.

God is a creator too. The earth is one aspect of God’s message to humanity. And more, living things are another, animals, fish, and people included.

Today is Mother’s Day in the U.S. and we celebrate the women who carried us within their bodies and nurtured us as best they were able. Together, a female and male parent came together to create another human, endowed with a personal spirit, unique to the world in which we live.

Let us give thanks to the Builder today, the Creator, the Mother/Father of us all. Let us look at everything and everyone and remember the source of that idea, that word, that color, that shape, that sound. Amen.

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Every endeavor has rules. I hate that. Maybe it’s because I’m a child of the sixties [age-alert] but there’s some part of me that wants to rebel just at the whiff of rules. But why? Why have they become limitations instead of opportunities for excellence?

II Timothy 2:5
Similarly, anyone who competes as an athlete does not receive the victor’s crown except by competing according to the rules.

In reality, it’s the rules or the finiteness of the task and the subsequent precision and commitment to working within that framework that separates the good from the great.

When Paul uses a sports analogy, the first sport that comes to my mind is diving. It’s so terribly precise. All those Olympic dives look wonderful to me until it’s replayed in slow motion and the announcer breaks down the movements and compares them to perfect.

I also think of ice skating, skiing, even ballet. The individual, in order to reach excellence, must ascribe to a certain set of standards. Ultimately, it is only after reaching the highest benchmark that rules can be broken or bent for the sake of creativity or experimentation or invention.

I remember, as a child, watching a clown on a high wire and I thought he was crazy to be on a high wire with so little experience. He always looked like he might fall off the wire at any moment. It was funny and scary at the same time. Only later, as an adult, did I learn that the clown must have the most precise technique and confidence in order to “play” on the wire. In the same vein, the jazz artist (whether dance or music) must know the fundamentals thoroughly or the modern artist classic proficiency before improvising.

So, in a way, it’s true, the rules are to be broken, but only after understanding and mastering the space between the rules. Once we learn to color inside the lines, then we can venture out.

Now, what has this to do with my faith in the Christ or serving God? What are the basics or rules of my faith? Isn’t it Christ crucified, resurrected, and engaged in human life thereafter through the presence and power of the Holy Spirit to reestablish communion with God? And thereby I can walk out in love, light, truth, justice, and faithfulness because God is forever in our midst: Emmanuel. Yes, and so essentially, to live is Christ (the greatest mystery of all).

If Christ is exalted (manifest) in/through me [Philippians 1:20-21], then I am living loved and loving others, I am a light in dark places [Matthew 5;15], I am faith-filled and faithful [Luke 17:5-6], I am a spokesperson for truth [John 17:17], and, best of all, I can know, recognize and collaborate with the Holy Spirit [I Corinthians 6;19].

From here, I can improvise. I can be the clown for Christ. I can be a fool. I can be martyr. I can be a change agent. I can be human as God always intended.

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John 16:28
“I came from the Father and entered the world; now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father.”

Apparently, this “coming from the Father” business is a big deal. Anything repeated in scripture is generally considered important, well, this one is “Pete and Repeat” and it must be critical!

As I thought about this, I considered what it means to be sent by someone in authority. If I was on a mission sent by the President let’s say, unless there was a lot of pomp and circumstance (and secret service), honestly, no one would believe me. What could I do to convince people? I could share my inside information… I could drop a lot of names of people I knew… I could carry an I.D. card (but even that would be suspect). Even my friends would have trouble with this one. Face it, people don’t tend to believe in the extraordinary unless it fits their own mental model. And I don’t fit the model for an “agent” from the President.

In the end, I would have to do the best I could to present myself as the “real thing.” I would have to stand fast and be consistent. I would have to “stick to my story.” And in the end, some would believe me and some would not. If the mission was critical, let’s say I had inside information that the area was going to blow up (sounds a little like the TV show “24”)… it would be really important for people to believe me. There would be urgency. And yet, some would believe and some would not.

We all know where I’m going with this metaphor. Those who believed me would escape unharmed. Those who did not believe, would face the challenges of surviving a cataclysmic event… or not.

It takes a leap of faith to believe. Something resonates within. There may not be enough data, not enough hard facts, not enough to know for sure, and yet, the heart responds. The soul quivers.

I confess, when I made my leap of faith some thirty years ago, it started out as a test. I was skeptical and unsure, but I thought I’d give this “follower of Jesus” bit a chance. Despite all of the challenges and disappointments since then, I have never turned back. The joys, the gifts, the blessings, the love, and the hope far outweigh the rest. And so, I’m still following the One who came from God, the Father and the Mother, the Great Spirit, the Holy Creator. Amen.

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John 16:6
“…Because I have said these things, you are filled with grief…”

It couldn’t have been easy listening to Jesus tell the disciples that he was leaving. If they were grieving, they were also believing… he wasn’t kidding. From their perspective, the most amazing experience of their lives was ending.

They were so disappointed. They were not so savvy (in fact, far from it), to be able to see the big picture or expect it could possibly be better than it had already been with Jesus. Not possible!

Grief is one of the strongest emotions that humans feel. It can be overwhelming. Sometimes, it is so intense that a person becomes numb, removed from life and unable to carry on daily activities. Grief is a reaction to loss. Grief is a reaction to change.

On this occasion, the disciples were feeling “anticipatory grief” which strikes in the face of an anticipated loss or change. Jesus was helping them identify what they were feeling. He was also trying to prepare them for the next phase of their lives as his followers.

God is about change because God is creative. And so is life. When we hold too tightly to what is now, we will find change more difficult. We will dig in our heels and try to slow down the process.

There is nothing inherently wrong with grief. It’s the emotional process of accepting change in our lives. But we cannot remain there or we’ll miss the next stage of our life’s trajectory.

I embrace change and I embrace the feelings that go with it. It’s my personal “creation” story.

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John 3:27
… John replied, “A man can receive only what is given him from heaven….”

There are many gifts that we receive from heaven…. that is, from God. These are our natural gifts. And it is with these “gifts” that we are challenged to create within our world.

So often, we look outside ourselves and say, “If only I had more money” or “If only I was prettier” or “If only I could sing like that [small tribute the American Idol finale, which I didn’t even watch ;-)]” … then we could accomplish this or that. But the truth is, we have everything we need already.

In the same spirit as the metaphor about the church being like a “body” (I Cor 12:14-16), where the hand and foot have different functions, so it is with our natural gifts. Each of us is gifted in particular ways to contribute to the world. Each of us is given raw materials to work with. Each of us can work with what we have been given.

I think I have spent a good deal of my life chasing after other people’s gifts, hoping those gifts would be my ticket to happiness or contentment … well, I should be honest, what I’ve really wanted the most has been fame! That’s embarrassing to say.

It’s only in recent years that I have started letting go of this “temptation” and started nurturing the gifts I already have: speaking, writing, and connecting the dots for others. I am the energizer bunny. Each day is becoming more and more of an adventure. I’m curious how these gifts will manifest today. I give thanks.

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