I never realized I was creative until I hit my late twenties, when someone suggested I scrapbook our wedding photos. I think I laughed at them (oops).
But the idea took root—and while I never finished more than ten pages of that wedding album, I ventured into card-making, finding joy in cutting and gluing paper together in an artistic fashion. My cards were far from professional, but as my first foray into a creative skill, it provided enjoyment both for me and for the recipients (or so I’m told)
I’ve since moved on to other artistic pursuits, like learning how to draw and use watercolors and do Scripture lettering. But I’ve also learned to see my creative skills at work in things like running a home, managing correspondence for our ministry, writing books, and even pursuing seminary training.
The thing I was confusing all those years was the true nature of creativity.
All art is creative work—but not all creative work is art.
The thing is, we are all called to be creative, because we are all made in the image of the great Creator. He has called us to cultivate the earth and exercise dominion over all living things, and those commands require that we be creative.
How can you plant a garden or decide how to use its fruits without creating a plan or creating options? How can you care for animals without creating new roles for yourself (pet owner, hunter, etc)? How can you fulfill any responsibility without creating new processes, new routines, or new goals?
The good news is, being creative does not require any artistic ability!
- The mother who runs a home must be creative in planning schedules, setting boundaries for her children, decorating and cooking, and juggling all her various responsibilities.
- The computer programmer must write his code in such a way that creates new sequences for the machine to follow, or else he has not created anything new but simply replicated a pre-existing program.
- The teacher must be creative in planning lessons, exploring and combining teaching methods, training and rewarding hard-working students, and correcting poorly behaved students in an effective manner.
- The factory worker must be creative in caring for their physical ability to do their job well—you can’t work an assembly line if you’re having a hard time staying awake.
- The healthcare worker must be creative in knowing how to approach or handle different types of people, and adapting their learned knowledge appropriately to different medical needs.
- The office manager must be creative in applying his organizational skills to determine the most effective method of communicating for that particular office.
- The CEO must be creative in leadership, figuring out how to manage and delegate to a group of very diverse people for the ultimate success of both company and employees.
We all create processes, routines, or methods for our jobs (whether paid or unpaid). We all must figure out how to best juggle various roles and responsibilities, without failing miserably in any of them. We all must effectively adapt prior-learned skills and academic knowledge to our current situations.
We all must use our creativity to do those things with excellence, in a manner that glorifies God and benefits others.
The point is, we are all creative in some manner. And in our creativity, we reflect our Maker—the very first creative being.
He was the One who established order out of chaos to make something new for the good of others. He was the first Entrepreneur, so to speak. Have you ever thought of it that way before?
Granted, His creating and ours are entirely different in motivation and implementation. God is completely omniscient, holy and pure, and transcendent above every scientific or physical law. We, on the other hand, are prone to selfishness and vulnerable to natural limitations.
“God created us to be co-creators with him, to do ‘the things that God has done in creation—Jordan Raynor, Called to Create
bringing order out of chaos to create new things for the good of others.”
Here’s the crux of the matter: everyone is called to create, or be creative, for the purpose of glorifying God, loving others, and making disciples.
We cannot separate creativity from those things. And in order to accomplish them, we must find the place where our skill and ability intersect with the needs of others.
Do you consider yourself a creative person?
PS . If you want a good resource about developing your creativity for the glory of God, check out Called to Create by Jordan Raynor. It’s a biblically-based, richly-developed, practically-applied look at how and why every Christian is called to be creative—and is one of the best books I’ve read on the topic.