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Consistent Variety: a Secret of Fruitfulness

consistent variety

A few years ago, I had made a decision to get healthy. With that decision, I started eating better and exercising a lot more than I ever had before. Shockingly, at least to me, I began to lose weight. I still remember feeling proud of myself when people I hadn’t seen for awhile would walk up to me and say, “Have you lost weight?” Sadly, however, things changed. My life, diet and exercise routine became predictable and boring. Eventually, this led to burn-out and I gave up, gaining back all the weight I had lost.

Not long ago, I met somebody who had succeeded in losing weight and becoming healthy by doing the diet I had burnt-out on. When I asked for his secret, he simply said, “Variety and creativity.” From that day forward, I’ve tried to live my life by those words.

The story above is not just a personal example of burn-out, but it is also a parable of the lives of many pastors and leaders. Predictability has and always will lead to burn-out. Many leaders use the same reading plans, read the same Bible translations, and listen to the same podcasts. Their sermons are always predictable because they are always three points and a prayer. Their daily life is even predictable! Starbucks, U2 and an Apple product pretty much describe 90 percent of modern pastors. Why the monotony? Why the carbon copying of each other? I once heard someone say, “It seems that almost every pastor I know is trying to copy Rob Bell or Steven Furtick.” It’s true! There is almost no originality in the church today. Think about it! God has made us in His image, but no two people look the same. We serve a creative God who is consistently inconsistent, so why can’t we be the same?

Personally, I love Bible reading plans and podcasts, but I have chosen not to use and listen to the same ones all the time. I have a specific time every day when I read and pray, but I do not always read out of the same translation or pray the same way. I try my best to be consistently inconsistent daily. I do the same things every day, but I do them differently every time. This is how I cultivate creativity in my everyday life, which in turn brings creativity to other areas of my life.

So how would this look in the church? Ed Young answers that question in his book, The Creative Leader. In it, he talks about how consistent inconsistency keeps the congregation excited and trying to guess what is going to happen next. One Sunday, worship will be fast, upbeat and in your face. The next Sunday, it will be slow and contemplative. One Sunday, a rock band will lead worship. The next Sunday, a choral ensemble will take the stage. The worship always starts off the service (consistent), but the style and tempo is different every time (inconsistent)! Consistently inconsistent!

So how would you do this in your own personal life? Try reading different books by different authors. Try watching different movies, such as foreign films or anything you wouldn’t normally watch. Try listening to new music. You could also learn to play an instrument, or take up photography. All of these things will cause you to see and hear things differently. You won’t regret it. I promise.