Creativity at Work
When it comes to living life intentionally, most of us want examples and how-to’s. When we’re talking about approaching our work with a purpose to serve God and fulfill His mission, we are nearly addicted to bullet-points and next-steps and to wise sages who explain how they’ve done it and how we can do it too. If you are all about that practical, prescriptive stuff this message is going to be a stretch…which is exactly what you need.
Here is the message: If you are a Jesus-follower who is trying to connect your everyday work with God’s mission, you need to approach your work with creativity. In fact when you are intentionally creative about your work, you are loving those your serve. Take a breath. Let it soak. Feel free to ask (silently to yourself), “Is he nuts?”
In a second, I’ll give you some relief with some handy bullet-points, but first, let’s understand why the idea of creativity makes us squirm – especially those of us who think that creativity is only has a place in the arts, and we’re not in the arts. Here’s your answer: the true definition of creativity is to develop something from nothing. Holy smoke, in a world that wants everything pre-thought, pre-heated, pre-fabricated, and prescribed, making something from nothing sounds like work. And, if you’re swimming in a world where productivity is the most treasured goal and the most noble of values, creative pursuits definitely sound like they’re headed upstream. So, that’s why the suggestion of working creatively makes us squirm or groan or shrug or roll our eyes (I saw you). But here come the beloved bullet points, and they explain why being creative in our work is not so goofy.
- You and I were made in the image of God – God creates, we create. We were invited into the creativity business nearly as soon as we were formed. Think of how God asked humans to take a look at all the animals around us and gave us the task of naming them. God could have covered that task quite nicely, but he allowed us the fun of coming up with platypus, and dodo and dingo. With that early invitation, God nudged us into making something from nothing within the role that was designed for us and it set us apart from other life-forms that don’t bear God’s image. Humans were made to create just like our Father does and nothing has changed (except maybe our attitude).
- Creativity is productive – While the arts stand tall as serious forms of expression, perspective and entertainment the role of creativity doesn’t start and stop there. The great inventors and industrialists made their marks by making something from nothing. Scientists and mathematicians risked ridicule with brand new theories, formulas and approaches. Politicians created brand new forms of government (Check US history), and men like Kotruljević and Pacioli devised new ways to approach bookkeeping. Creativity leads to innovations and improvements that actually increase our ability to function well and effectively.
- Creativity is love – Okay, so now I’m just getting silly, right? No, I don’t think so. Bear with me…
When we, as God’s image bearers, look to connect our work with God’s redemptive mission for our world, we have a particularly clear call to think beyond ourselves as we do our work. We are to do work that shines with the goodness of God all over it. When we approach our work with creativity, it makes it possible to make a couple things, seemingly from nothing: Value and benefit. By approaching our work with concern for more than ourselves, we can actually increase the worth of the product of our work and the benefit of those we serve. Think about the dentist who has worked to discover just the right time to drill to minimize pain or the barista who has developed a unique technique of pulling espresso to maximize the flavor in the cup, etc., etc., etc. When we work creatively, we are thinking beyond our job and beyond our productions standards and unselfishly begin to make better things that serve better. And doesn’t that sound like love?
Have you been going through the motions in your work? Have you accepted the status quo? Do you feel like your paycheck is fulfilling but the work is blah? Get creative! Start to think more deeply about how you can be part of renewal and restoration right there where you work. And don’t let it end at work, Live out the image of God in everything you do!
Need a jumpstart? Check out our friend, Jonathan Malm‘s devotional Created for More: 30 Days to Seeing Your World in a New Way I am just starting it. We can do it together!