Many of us think that being a ‘creative’ is about self-expression. I’m here to ruffle a few feathers and challenge that long held view. Over the years I’ve come to believe that living a truly creative life isn’t at all about us. Unless we’re willing to take our ‘selves’ out of the equation, the path of pure creativity cannot flow through us.
Creativity is a spiritual process. Thoughts, inspirations, and dreams find their way into our inner being. But how do they get there? I believe creative ideas come from one of two places in the spiritual realm. The source and motive behind them is what distinguishes life-giving creativity from corrupting creativity.
God is the first and unsurpassed ‘creative.’ Our creative pursuits should always spring from Him not ourselves or other sources. We are spiritual vessels to be used by God for His purposes. If God has a purpose for each of our lives, He also has a unique and creative plan tailored just for us. He alone knows how our life journey will also weave into someone else’s path.
The creativity given us should uplift humanity in some way; build it up, not tear it down. It should cause us to seek higher spiritual pursuits and not temporal pleasures. If what we create causes another to live an ordinary or shackled life, then our contribution is of no value. Freeing the human soul from the clutches of carnality should be our highest creative aim. And we have to trust that God has a storehouse of imaginative ways to reach each individual.
When I was in art school some of the exercises we did entailed drawing or painting whatever came to us. We used our hands and brushes as physical tools of deliberate expression. Writers do it too with free writing. God wants to use us the same way, special tools in His hand to create majestic works of art that transform the human spirit for eternity. But we have to be willing to let go and allow the Spirit of creativity to direct us.
We have to let go of what we think we know in order to be filled with what we don’t know. We have to drain our soul of our ‘selves’ and ‘our’ ideas about God to be filled with deeper revelations of God’s heart and His desires for us.
Some years ago God questioned the motivation behind what I did. Why do you do what you do? If we want our creative pursuits to matter, we have to be willing to question our motives. We have to be willing to lay down our desire for self-expression just for the sake of expression, the desire for fame or validation, and the desire for fortune. Those motives stain the purity of spiritual creativity.
Revelation 3:8 contains a message to the church in Philadelphia, which in Greek means ‘brotherly love’.
‘These things says He who is holy, He who is true, “He who has the key of David, He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens”: “I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name.
Over the years I’ve thought about creativity, God, and our unique purposes while living our one life on this earth. I’ve collected a few spiritual keys to a creative life that honor God and uplift our fellow sojourners.
- FAITH: It all starts with believing in God’s majestic grandeur – His omnipresence, omnipotence, and omniscience. His infinite creative power and imagination is beyond our comprehension. God’s thoughts are higher than our wildest dreams. If he deposits an idea in us and we try to flesh it out without His help, it’ll probably remain stagnant. If we put our trust in His dynamic ability to reveal His deep reservoir of creativity, He’ll gift us with unique ways of expressing His truths.
- FOLLOW: When we consistently follow the Word of God, our life will be created. We are to be followers of Jesus – the Word of God. Without Him we can do nothing and with Him all things are possible. Jesus created us and everything we see and everything we don’t. When we truly follow Jesus as our Lord and Savior, He offers us the gifts of His divine fullness. He is everything we need and even more than we could ever imagine.
- FELLOWSHIP: Who but the Spirit of God is able to reveal the secret things of God? Let us fully surrender to the leading and teaching of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is a person, not some energy or force. He is our ally, our teacher, and our comforter. Let us become one in spirit and the shadow of the Holy Spirit. Say what He says and do what He tells us to do. But we have to take the time to fellowship with the Spirit and listen to that still small voice that searches the deep things of God and reveals them to those who are in pursuit.
- LOVE: Putting others first is the essence of love. When we die to self it opens the door to creativity because we’re willing to lose in order to gain. You can only fill an empty container. When our hearts are aligned with God’s, then our life’s purpose will undoubtedly include serving others. Our creative endeavors should always lean toward depositing life into another and always naming that life ‘God.’
- GRATITUDE: Being thankful opens the heart and hand of God to His endless bounty. God so loves it when we are grateful for all that He is and all He has done for us. Greed just fills us with corruptible things, leaving no room for the eternal. When we loose our grip on earthly things, we open our hearts and minds to receive God’s treasures.
- INTEGRITY: We must be the same person when we’re around others and when no one is looking. That’s the mark of a person of integrity. God needs to be able to trust us with the gems of His heart and to carry through to completion the purpose He’s planned for us.
- HUMILITY: Having a teachable spirit opens us up to God’s endless imaginings. If you think you know it all then you’re not being receptive to the enchanting thoughts of God. Acknowledge your weakness before God and His strength and He will send dreams, stories, songs, paintings and all sorts of goodies to your heart.
- PURSUE: Being a truth-seeker will lead you to God’s wisdom. Those who seek do find. Those who ask are given. And to those who knock, doors will be opened. Wisdom is saying or doing or not saying and not doing the best thing at the right time. Without God’s wisdom creativity loses its strength to transform.
- FORGIVE: Without letting go and forgiving those that have wronged us, we cannot plant seeds of inspiration in our spirits. We need to be a garden ready for God’s perfect ponderings not a field of bitter roots. Forgiveness is at the heart of God’s ways. It’s not enough to be like-minded, we must be like-hearted to be co-creators.
- RECYCLE: Surrendered souls have stories that God can use. We must be willing for God to use our suffering for the benefit of another. God can recycle our pain and birth a purpose out of it. Nothing we have experienced in our lives is wasted with God. He heals our wounds, comforts our hearts, and strengthens us to be a soothing balm for others. We must tell the story together, sing the song together, and display His goodness and loving-kindness together.
It is my desire that our creative journey will take us straight to the chamber of God’s heart. It is there that we will find the unique ways of expressing His love for the world. It was His love that created us for good works and I know He longs to embrace us and release His dreams into our spirit like a breath of life for us all.