I had the somewhat unique benefit of being affirmed in my creativity from an early age.
Teachers and parents encouraged my apparent artistic ability. Such affirmation may be more common these days, but I know many Boomers and Gen X ers who didn’t get that, and decided somewhere in grade school that they weren’t creative because they weren’t artistic.
But creativity isn’t just about making visual art, or music, or graphics. You don’t have to be artistic to be creative. One of its key functions is simply problem solving.
Which means we are all creative.
We all use our imagination daily to envision solutions to problems, and then solve them. That’s a creative act. If I ask you to imagine an apple tree with one beautiful apple hanging from a branch way up high, you can do it instantly. Can you imagine how you would get that apple down to give it to a hungry child? If so, you just solved at least two problems.
God gave us the abilities to imagine and problem-solve and he actually invites us to collaborate with him in using those abilities. As we seek and listen for his guidance, he can inspire our imagination or give us ideas that we couldn’t have come up with on our own.
The Bible mentions a number of times that God reveals mysteries to his people, such as:
Jeremiah 33:3 “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.”
Ephesians 1:9 “He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him…”
Daniel 2:22 “It is He who reveals the profound and hidden things; He knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with Him.”
In Finding Divine Inspiration I wrote about a number of inventors who seemed to tap into this biblical truth; people who collaborated with God to deliver new ideas to the world. There’s George Washington Carver, who asked God to
reveal the potential for the simple peanut and ended up inventing more than 300 uses for it, including the ever-delicious peanut butter. There was Samuel FB Morse, inventor of the telegraph, the foundation for modern communications, who said that when he ran into problems in the invention process he simply “asked God for more light.” And more recently, Gary Starkweater, inventor of the laser printer and holder of dozens of patents, regularly talks about how God guided and inspired him in his inventions. “I asked Him to show me a little bit of how the Universe works and what might be done with what He has made.”
I think God loves it when we ask those kinds of questions; when we open ourselves up to collaborating with him to solve problems and illuminate mysteries. And he gives us joy and a sense of purpose in it.
In fact, I believe you and I were designed to collaborate with God in our creativity. Why not ask God how you can collaborate, even in the smallest way, with him today?
J. Scott McElroy is the author of Finding Divine Inspiration (Destiny Image) and The Creative Church Handbook: Releasing the Power of the Arts in Your Congregation (InterVarsity Press). He directs The New Renaissance Arts Movement and blogs at JScottMcElroy.com. Reach him at Scott(at)TheNewR.org
(Here is some more inspiration on this subject from Bill Johnson: http://podcasts.ibethel.org/en/podcasts/prosperity-with-a-purpose-created-to-create )