I’ve been thinking lots lately about creativity – what exactly that means and how that word has been segmented down to a class of people we call creatives who seem to be this magical breed of human who come up with bizarre ideas and want to test them out on people.
Creativity seems to be this magical ability of these unicorns known as creatives who can conjure up weird, wacky and wild ideas that get our attention in ways that a powerpoint presentation just can’t.
And yet at the same time we get nervous around these people known as creatives and we love their output but not always their input and so creativity becomes this hocus pocus that happens with some cauldron in a backroom and the expectation that these creatives will be able to conjure the right spell to present a video, a song, a graphic, a fill-in-the-blank that will help the powerpoint presentation make sense.
But how does the adjective of creativity get turned into the noun of creative? How did we get to the place where creativity has been simplified down to describe only the group of people who are able to produce some kind of creative work?
Creative has become a label reserved for a certain group of people and that word is now a noun instead of an adjective.
“Let’s get the creatives to come up with something…”
Creative is the word which should describe an aspect of what it means to be human and creativity is the noun which describes the mechanism by which we generate new ideas.
The truth is that everyone is creative, whether you like it or not! As a human, you are created in the image of God. And His image is creative – “In the beginning, God created…” Part of the imago dei is creativity.
So what is this creativity?
The definition I’ve always gone back to is that creativity is finding new solutions within limitations.
In the church, there is no shortage of limitations. Whether it’s finances, people or time we all face some kind of scarcity in terms of what is available to help accomplish the thing God has called us to do.
We need a video.. but we only have three days. We need some stage lighting.. but we have no money. We need to start a new ministry for our community.. but we have no leaders to run it.
Creativity is required not only by the ones who are using their creative ability to make new things but by leaders of all kinds. Part of leadership is solving problems and finding new solutions and part of the way that happens is through creativity because we’re all dealing with limitations!
Songwriters are creative by taking words and melodies, putting them together within the limitations of familiar song structure, tonal range and time limit to create the solution of new songs for us to sing.
Painters are creative by taking tools like a brush and paint and applying them to the limitation of a canvas which is only a certain size to create the solution of new artwork for us to enjoy.
Preachers are creative by taking words from the Bible, their own education, abilities and life experience and working with the limitations of time limits, distracted audience and cultural baggage to create the solution of preaching the gospel of Jesus in a dynamic and engaging way.
Now some of us have been born and developed certain talents or abilities which allow that creative nature to be combined with the act of creativity in creating great artwork. Painting, poetry, songwriting, mapmaking – these are all examples of creative ability worked out with creativity to produce something new. This is called art.
We are all creatives.
We are not all artists.
But we all behave creatively and have the potential to produce creative work.
Whether it’s part of your job description or not, creativity is something intertwined in your DNA. You don’t have a choice. Every time your heart beats a little faster, every time you play out the scene of a book in your mind, every time you take on the challenge of learning something new – this is creativity at work!
So how can regular everyday non-artists who still possess incredible creative potential increase their creativity and be more effective? I’ve got some more thoughts on that and I’ll be sharing more of those ideas soon.