When I worked at an ad agency, the office was split into two parts: account services and creative. The account services side of the office was painted in grays and steel blues and was usually quiet enough that you could tell who was walking up behind your cubicle by the click of her heels. Separated by a physical wall, the creative side was a different story.
The creative department was painted in oranges and reds, and as you walked from one end to the other, various music – from headbanger rock to blues to country – covered up the sound of even the noisiest sneakers.
I worked on both sides of the wall during my time at the agency, and much as my administrative skills pull me into the world of spreadsheets and reports, I loved being part of the creative team.
I mean, they had the ping-pong table. And the kitchen. And the color. And the music.
So when I looked at the options for the first breakout session at The Orange Conference today, picking one was a no brainer. I signed up for Creative Practices for Storytelling, Ministry and Life with Jeanne Stevens, pastor and church planter at Soul City Church in Chicago.
It wasn’t until I sat down and got myself situated with my clunky old laptop and big briefcase bag that I realized I’m not really a creative.
I was, after all, sitting right next to the quintessential youth pastor/worship leader type, with his moleskine notebook, dusty boots, tight v-neck shirt and faux hawk. Just to make sure you get the full picture, I was wearing my typical black pants and polyester shirt with practical shoes. And I was sweating, because it is humid in Atlanta, if you didn’t know.
But no sooner had I let that thought settle into my brain that Jeanne said, “How many of you have said, ‘I’m not a creative person'”? Busted!
She went on to share myths of creativity, tensions in creative efforts and the responsibility of creativity – as it applies to everyone, faux hawk or not.
Jeanne reminded us that there is a divine connection between God who is creator and you who are creative. “Your creativity is not your own,” she said. “Our creativity comes from God, a source separate from us and greater than us. God has called us to co-create with him.”
So, no more pressure about being creative or not. We are all called to creative pursuits, whether that means painting a canvas, building a spreadsheet, leading worship, managing a sales team or developing preschool curriculum. We are made to create.
I walked away from this session with tons of great tips and a bucket-full of inspiration. But the three main takeaways were these three simple (KIDDING.) tips:
Stop worrying and start to imagine.
Stop repeating instead of start something new.
Stop comparing and start embracing your unique contribution.
That last point is the one that resonated most with me, and I plan to write more about that soon. But for now, I’m going to leave you with this question: What were you made to create? Whether you’re a blogger, an accountant, a musician, a teacher, a mom – or all of the above! – you were made to create. So what are you creating?
Mary, I love this post. I tend to be on the “non-creative” side but yes, there are many ways to be creative and I believe it is a God-given thing for ALL of us!
Thank you so much for reminding me where creativity is derived from. As a current account services gal at an agency (inwardly longing to be a creative person), I create a good relationship between my clients, Creative and IT. As a budding photographer (who would love to be one of the many creative photographers out there with eye-candy blogs), I am creating images of emotion in my subjects for them to look back and remember.
Yes! You ARE creative and ARE creating!!
Amen! Here’s another thing, if you find yourself in a creative calling from God, He will make sure you can do it!
Oh Mary I LOVE this post!! So true. And the comments too. God is way too creative for us not to get something from that gene;)
I love that idea – getting something from God’s “genes”! I’ve never thought of it that way, but I will now!!
I think this is SO true but also SO hard to internalize when you’re in the moment and feeling really bad because you’re not making anything and everyone around you IS.
Good point. Not that I always follow this advice, but I know it helps to focus on what God has for ME and not what others are doing/getting/etc. On this topic, though, I simply believe we’re all created to be creative and we live that out in different ways. (But again – so much easier said than done!)
I love this perspective.. I love being creative, but I never thought of it as a duty, per se. Thank you for sharing this.
Amen! With Joy, Carey
Hmm…I think I create lots of things. At the moment I’m helping to create a cathedral out of a massive, cave-like conference center. I’m creating sacred space. I’m creating new and exciting arrangements of old hymns for piano and organ. Just today I created a program for my Easter cantata. I’m creating positive relationships with orchestra members and trying not to create such a negative relationship with my boss. I’m constantly creating excellence in the musical things I do: working tirelessly to create a woship leader in myself and the people I work with. I’m creating things in my head right now: a program that will take place outside in August, featuring jazz musicians from the church and community, my annual 9/11 Memorial program, and in the beginning stages of creating another Christmas program that touches and moves people to a different understanding of an unbelievable miracle. I don’t have a faux hawk right now, but i do wear my skinny jeans and torn up, laceless Chucks proudly as a person created to be creative! Very nice post, Mary. I hope your conference is going well!
You definitely create a lot! Even if you do have to wear skinny jeans. ;)
I began my career at an ad agency! I was squarely on the account side, but worked with the creative to make sure my clients got what they needed. It was a fantastic collaboration.
These days I express creativity in my home, photography and with my children. Like you I love words and enjoy putting them together in my journal and blog. I love to be creative in processes by using something in a way different that its original design.
Enjoy your week!
Hmm… I’d like to say God must be wrong (again, because surely He has been about a lot of things when it comes to me!;), but that’s probably not the case… This is probably just an excuse, but I really think I need more time to “be creative.” Granted, I probably have that time now but just am not using it in that way… Those are some good points though. And I think it’s good to think how we might be creative in ways different from everyone else. I guess that’s part of the definition of creative, but you know what I mean, right? I mean, I might be creative and just not realize it because it’s different from somebody else’s idea of creative. Anyway. Maybe I’ll come up with something. :)
You know…I’ve been thinking about this a lot. I’ve been very frustrated lately, and I think a lot of that might have to do with my lack of creating. I used to own a photography business, so it’s no surprise that I was busy creating something every day. I used to be the craftiest crafter on the block when my kids were little, but no more. I “used to” do a lot of creative things, but I don’t make time for it any more. Maybe I need to set aside a ‘creativity day” and force myself into it.
I’m Megan, BTW. Nice to meet ya! I found you via Oh Amanda’s blog!
Nice to meet you, too! I wonder if it would help you at all to change your perspective on some of your current activities, to see them as creative even if they’re not “crafty”? Of course, having a creativity day would be awesome! I hope you can work that into your schedule!!