Imagine for a second that you’re an old-time prospector who’s spent months digging for gold and let’s say that one day while you’re digging you uncover a large gold deposit. Upon making such an incredible discovery would you feel more:
My guess is that, unless you’re a total narcissist, you’d probably feel far more lucky than you would feel proud, and that’s because although you may have worked hard to find the gold, you really didn’t have anything to do with putting it there in the first place. This, in my opinion, is what it is to work in a creative capacity. As I see it, our job isn’t really to create new ideas, but rather to discover the God-ideas that were there all along.
From the beginning, we see that creation was always God’s job but that God allowed man to participate in the creation process by bringing order to what God had already created. Additionally, the scripture says that EVERY good and perfect gift comes from God (James 1:17). I take that to quite literally mean that everything good in this world, including my best ideas, really originate in God, and therefore, it would be ridiculous for me to take credit for something I didn’t make, but rather discovered.
Now, here’s why this is huge: if the ideas I’m looking for aren’t really mine to begin with, then I also don’t have to bear the weight and burden of “creating” the next big thing every time we sit down to a brainstorming meeting, because after all, I’m not able to create in the first place, I simply discover and bring order. I think this is why so many people never get to first base creatively. They’re trying to create rather than discover.
Let’s be honest, creative work is filled with pressure. Nothing can sap your creativity like staring at a blank page or trying to drum up enthusiasm for a dead brainstorming session. For me, discovery is altogether different from creating. When we’re working a new project I always like to begin by putting myself into discovery mode, that is to say that I live my life more aware of everything that’s going on around me, music, movies, commercials, TV shows, anything really that might provide a clue to where God wants me to go.
A few years back I was in DisneyWorld, on vacation with my family, when a street performer at Downtown Disney played Michael Jackson’s Thriller over his stereo. As I watched people walk by I was struck by how the young and old alike knew and sang every word of that song. On that same trip my family and I watched a Disney Villains parade, which my kids loved, and I began to wonder if we might be able to do something at Christmas with a villain. Mix both of those thoughts together and that was how I discovered the Grinch/Thriller idea.
Had I been in “creative” mode I never would have arrived at such an outlandish idea, because the pressure of topping yourself leaves you less creative, not more. However, because I was seeking to discover more than create, I was open to the possibility of something new.
So any time I feel “stuck” creatively, I don’t freak out, I simply remind myself, and God, that creation isn’t really my job and that if He wants our Christmas/Easter/Next Big Deal services to be good, He’ll have to direct me to an idea worthy of that service. I can’t begin to tell you how liberating this is, and also, how effective this is. You might think I’m over-spiritualizing this whole thing, but I’m being 100% serious, this really works.
So, the next time you’re feeling stuck creatively, take a second to quiet your thoughts and pray to ask God to reveal to you the idea that’s already there just waiting to be mined out and discovered. Trust me, it works.
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