The Attitude of Creativity
Categories: Expressing God
Being creative isn't as hard as it seems because creativity really isn't about creating. It's not about inventing a new idea, solution, technology, tool, story-line, analysis, sport's move, or toy.
Why? Because God is the only Creator -- of everything:
- For thus saith the Lord that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: I am the Lord; and there is none else. (Isa. 45:18-20)
- God that made the world and all things therein … giveth to all life, and breath, and all things…. (Acts 17:24, 25)
- All things were made by him [God]; and without him was not any thing made that was made. (John 1:3)
Realizing that God is the only Creator doesn't limit us. Nor does it mean that we should give up the desire to be creative. Rather it lifts from us an overwhelming sense of burden -- the burden of believing that in order to be creative, we have to come up with something completely new. It frees us to embrace, demonstrate, and express God's unlimited creativity.
Since God is the grand Creator, and since God is all ("there is none else"), creativity, as it applies to us, is really about:
- discovering what God has already created;
- receiving the ideas that God is giving us by keeping our thoughts tuned into God's ever-present and ever-operative communication lines;
- listening to and accepting what God is telling us, even though it may not sound logical at first;
- seeing God's creations through a spiritual lens, through His eyes;
- unveiling and revealing the truth about His glorious creation.
Seen in this light, creativity stems from the "right" ATTITUDE, rather than a human ACT -- an attitude of humble receptivity to divine inspiration. This attitude enables us to see and understand the infinite ideas of God's creation. In Job, we read: "But there is a spirit in man: and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding" (32:8).
God provides the inspiration. It follows, then, that expressing creativity does not depend upon a special talent, experience, or age. Rather, creativity depends upon our willingness to allow God to inspire us -- to be open to His view of life. The beauty of this is that anyone can be creative. Paul, the apostle, explains it this way:
… the basic reality of God is plain enough. Open your eyes and there it is! By taking a long and thoughtful look at what God has created, people have always been able to see what their eyes as such can't see: eternal power, for instance, and the mystery of his divine being. (The Message, Rom. 1:19, 20)
What a basis for creativity! Beholding the infinite expanse of God's beautiful creation requires that we look beyond what's immediately visible, since, as Paul notes, we can't see God's reality with our human eyes. It requires spiritual intuition. Only as we are willing to rely on the insights given to us by God, rather than on physical or theoretical evidence based upon what our five senses and human reasoning tell us, will we be able to see God's creation in a way we haven't seen it before. As we turn to God, the one and only source of creation, we find, discover, recognize amazingly creative ideas. The prophet tells us:
This is God's Message, the God who made earth, made it livable and lasting, known everywhere as God: "Call to me and I will answer You. I'll tell you marvelous and wondrous things that you could never figure out on your own." (The Message, Jer. 33:2, 3)
But if we let ourselves get in the way and think that we are the ones originating an idea, then we run up against roadblocks. Such egotistical thinking would try (either consciously or unconsciously) to take God out of His own creation. This is definitely counter-productive:
If people can't see what God is doing,
they stumble all over themselves;
But when they attend to what he reveals,
they are most blessed. (The Message, Prov. 29:18)
If we want to express creativity, then our job is to "attend," to listen, to pay attention, to be so focused on what God is doing and revealing to us. The truth is that we are most creative, inventive, imaginative, and productive when we get ourselves out of the way and let God do the work. Even Jesus said, "I can of mine own self do nothing" (John 5:30); and, "The Son can't independently do a thing, only what he sees the Father doing. What the Father does, the Son does" (The Message, John 5:19). The more we understand that we are God's own children, created in His "image" and "likeness" (Gen. 1:26), the more we will be able to prove the truth of Jesus' words -- that "with God all things are possible" (Mark 10:27).
Of course, proving these words means that we have to do what God tells us to do. At this point, we must take divinely impelled action. What good would inspiration do for us or the world if we just kept it to ourselves? Jesus' parable about the man who lost his talent because he hid it and didn't improve it shows that we need to use the gifts God has given us (Matt. 25:15-29). We need to put inspiration to use -- whether it be in the form of a revolutionary technology, a wildly successful story, an inspiring piece of music, or a fresh way of performing a character in one of Shakespeare's plays. Or maybe, it means discovering life on other planets in other galaxies or learning how animals on our own planet communicate. (For more information on this, read Laurance Doyle's interview.)
So if we are tempted to believe that we can't think of anything creative to write for our English essay, or that we don't have anything of value to add to the project at work, we can know that it is simply a temptation. It's not the reality of the situation because God's creation is unlimited. Therefore, there are infinite ways to express God. Rather than buy into this debilitating temptation, which would try to stifle our creative activity, we can:
- refuse to limit ourselves or others;
- quit our dependence upon preconceived or educated opinions about what is possible or probable;
- eliminate the word "can't" from our vocabulary;
- realize there's more than one right way of doing something;
- start asking, "What if…?"; focus on what's possible, not on what's impossible;
- trust in God's ability to reveal His infinite creation to us;
- rejoice in God's infinite creation.
If we have an honest desire or a genuine need to express creativity, we can turn to God with absolute trust that He provides us with everything we need. Our open and humble attitude and our willingness to follow and act upon His direction enable us to give up our own opinions and let God do the work -- through us. Why would we want to interfere with God's work? The writers of the Wisdom Literature certainly make it clear that whatever He creates is going to be infinitely better than anything we could imagine ourselves:
For God's Word is solid to the core; everything he makes is sound inside and out. (The Message, Psalm 33:4)
I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it" (Eccl. 3:14)
We couldn't ask for a better source of inspiration and creativity!