This post was written by Mel Lawrenz
[This article is part of the "spiritual leadership today" study/discussion going on this year. For all articles in the series, click the Spiritual Leadership tab at the top of the page. To have them delivered, subscribe to The Brook Letter]
In today’s world creativity is a higher and higher value in almost any enterprise. In business, education, communications, science, and in ministry the way of doing things used to be logical progression. Go from step A to B to C, and on to the end. Start with ingredient X, add Y, a pinch of Z, and you’ve got your product. Turn one hundred into a thousand, and then go on to the first million, and you’re achieving the goal.
Today’s leading enterprises are looking at qualitative growth, not just quantity. And there is more attention to the way one gets to a goal, not just getting there.The people who are being hired in fields as diverse as accounting, medical technology, and economics are those who add a right-brain component to the work. They add art to productivity, and the results go in exciting new directions.
Valuing creativity is not a brand new thing, but a revival of an ancient and biblical view of life. God made the brain: both the left side and the right side. God intended human beings to be able to have both order and art in their approach to life. To decide on one side of the brain over the other is to limit ourselves to being halfwits.
Not every leader has to be creative. But all leaders should value creativity, and, if they are in positions over other leaders, promote the blend of logic and art.
Creativity in spiritual leadership is a whole way of thinking and behaving. It is when you as a leader approach every opportunity or problem with a humble open-mindedness. When you resist the temptation to make quick judgments or fashion easy solutions. Creativity is what keeps our minds open to endless possibilities, and not be trapped in the obvious or familiar.
Most important, creativity in spiritual leadership teaches people about the nature of the Creator God who is always making new things and making things new. This gives people hope. When people are dark and depressed because they just cannot see any way to break out of life patterns that are dehumanizing, they latch onto biblical promises like “I make all things new” (Rev. 21:5) and “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Cor. 5:17). So why not model that in the way we do things? If God is making all things new, why would we cling to what is old?
God’s ways of creating new lives is consistent with how God wants to create new forms of work and ministry. Creative leadership, in other words, is a participation in the movement of the Spirit of God.
If you are in a position of spiritual leadership you are obligated to be faithful to the mission you were called to, while watching for the creative new things God wants to do through you. How do we do this?
1. First, understand yourself. Are you naturally creative, or do you need to depend on others to bring new thinking and new expressions into the mission? Remember, the Spirit gifts people differently. Non-creative people do not need to pretend they are, and they certainly shouldn’t suppress creativity because it’s not their way of doing things.
2. View the future as a canvas yet to be painted. Envision your work as a story that is being written. Be glad that you do not know the future. This does not preclude planning. But we must remember James 4:
“Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’ Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.’” (James 4:13-15).
3. Encourage group brainstorming, but be careful to form groups with the right people for the right purpose. Having thirty people on a committee and giving each the freedom to share random opinions is not a creative process. You may actually lose ground by telling people their opinions matter, but drawing them out in a non-constructive context. Use small brainstorming groups. Be selective about who is part of a creative discussion. Resist forming standing committees. Maximize the energy of ad hoc task groups.
4. Read. Read. Read. You can’t build a barn with a blueprint, a set of tools, but no lumber. When you read widely you are storing up lumber of all sizes, shapes, and types. You create things when you have a full head, not an empty head.
5. Do imitate, do not copy. There is a world of very fine ideas in the world of Christian organizations. And some of them lead the way in innovation. They are worth studying. Sometimes there are elements to imitate. But if we are overly eager to find solutions, such that we copy the ideas of others, we usually duplicate just the externals and miss the real creative value the innovator used in the first place. Plagiarizing is not honorable. And using a cut-and-paste approach to leadership usually produces and ill-fit solution.
Theologians rightly point out that only God truly creates–that is, to bring into existence something that did not exist before. This should give us all the more enthusiasm to be used by God–in spiritual leadership–as God launches us past what is to what can be.
This entry was posted on Thursday, March 17th, 2011 at 9:58 am and is filed under Spiritual Influence.
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