Where does creativity come from? Is there a secret of creativity? Can we develop it? How can we write songs or produce films or create tasty meals, or grab people’s attention in sermons? Is creativity some random unpredictable thing like spinning the wheel on “Wheel of Fortune?” Is there any way to cultivate it or develop it?
First of all, we create because we have been created in the image of the Master Creator.
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. GE 1.27
Part of being created in God’s image is that humans are creators; we are made to create. It’s in our DNA. Obviously, we don’t create things out of nothing, like God did. But when we create we are “taking dominion” over the earth as God commanded:
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” GE 1.26
To “have dominion” over the earth includes taking the raw material of the world and making stuff out of it. To take wood and stone and ore from the ground and create movies and airplanes and decorative icing on cookies.
“When we talk about dominion, it’s helpful to think of it this way: As God’s image bearers in creation, we were intended to act as His representatives. We were designed, in a very real way, to show the world what God is like. So when God gave us the command to rule over the earth, the expectation was to do so in a way that reflected His character.” –The Gospel Project
So when we create, we show the world what God is like. We are designed to create. So how can we cultivate this creativity?
I was an art education major in college and got my masters in painting. I also played guitar in rock bands from the time I was 14 to 24 or so and wrote songs for the band. When Jesus saved me, I quit the band for various reasons, but kept writing songs which I would perform in various venues like coffee houses. I also began writing worship songs to try to serve my church. I eventually became a pastor, and attempted to apply creativity to the messages I preached. And about 10 years I picked up painting again.
So whether painting or preaching or songwriting, I have pursued creativity. Here are some things I have learned over the years.
Because every gift we have is from God, we have nothing to be proud about when we create something.
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. JA 1.17
Every spiritual gift and every “natural” gift is from God.
For who sees anything different in you? What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it? 1 CO 4.7
These verses are about spiritual gifts, but every gift is from God. For example in the OT God gifted Bezalel with all kinds of artistic gifts:
Then Moses said to the people of Israel, “See, the LORD has called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah; and he has filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, with intelligence, with knowledge and with all craftsmanship, to devise artistic designs, to work in gold and silver and bronze, in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, for work in every skilled craft. EX 35.30-33
God gave Bezalel all kinds of skill to create designs, work with gold, silver and bronze, cut stones, carve wood and “every skilled craft.” GOD gave him those gifts. Bez had nothing to be proud about.
Because God gives us every gift we have, from intelligence to athletic gifts to writing or cooking, we have no reason to boast. We have every reason to praise and thank God for being so generous with us.
God desires us to use and develop the gifts and talents he gives us.
In the parable of the Talents (MT 25:14-30), a master gives three servants differing amounts of talents (money). The first two take their talents, put them to work and earn more talents. The third servant buries his talent, much to his shame.
He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here, you have what is yours.’ But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. MT 25:24-29
God gives us gifts, but we need to develop them. To “sow” them. Cultivate them. That’s where the following tips come in.