Challenges lead to creativity

The problem with much of our lives is that we become comfortable. It’s quite easy to stay where we are, do what we have always done, and not try something different, new or creative. To many of us can run from the creativity within us. But cretivity is sewn into the fabric of our being by a creative God. We run because everything is “fine” where we are.

We can often dwell on the cost of stepping out of the comfortable. Maybe it’s financial. It could be relational. It might even be the pure stress of the matter. No matter the excuss, we find one, good or bad, and lean on it with all our weight.

While this manifests itself in our personal lives and corporate lives, the church has not been exempt. After all, the church is people and people like comfortable. More often than not, it takes an event to move us in creative directions. It is like the company that is on the verge collapse and has to sell cereal just to stay afloat, like Air BNB. Or like the person who has to find time in their already busy schedule to exercise after their doctor gave them bad news regarding their health. In both crises, it is the challenges that force us out of the comfortable and into the creative. I would argue that it is perseverance in moments like these that cause us to grow as people, and I believe perseverance takes creativity.

Think of the human body. Exercise causes the body to go under stress, which causes the muscles that you’re working to break down. It’s the stress that creates growth. Here’s the thing, if you always do the exact same thing, same weight, same exercises, same exertion, you will never grow. Your body learns what to expect. It has a memory. You have to be creative with your workouts if you want the full benefit. You must do lifts and twists, different weights and reps in order to get the full impact.

To come back to the church, it can feel like we have to fight an uphill battle when it comes to creative change within the church (or any change for that matter). It’s like how we seek comfort personally, so too do our congregations and institutions accept their happy and comfortable existence. However, just like the body needs stress to grow, so it is with our congregations.

In the wake of Covid-19, I have been able to see something amazing. The stress of not being able to gather with our congregations has compelled churches to become creative. For many, this has meant trying out live feeds of their service or sermon on social media. This is a massive step for some congregations, and I’m proud of you. For others, they have become creative on how to reach out to their communities in the wake of isolation.

Challenge is forcing creativity.

My encouragement is for you to keep pushing to find new ways to show who Jesus is through good, bad, and ugly times. If this infectious disease goes away soon, don’t let the creativity fade along with it. Don’t settle back into the comfortable. We must keep pushing ourselves past the comfortable and into the creative. After all, we were made for creativity. It’s a beautiful place that though challenging, is real and stretching and the place of growth.

Let’s open up our hearts to the Holy Spirit. Let’s allow the divine creativity to flow through us. Let’s, in a paraphrase of Acts 1:8, receive the Holy Spirit and be God’s creative witnesses in our cities, our municipalities, to people we don’t like, and even to the ends of the earth.

New beginnings or same old story?

As a new year has begun, change is in the air. Times of resolutions, new days, breaking old habits, and begin again’s has come. Researchers say that we decide to change something in our lives at the beginning of things. Whether it be Monday’s, the 1st of the month, or the start of the year, each is a time we make conscious changes.

Some set easily attainable goals. While others stretch themselves to reach to the moon, yet, no matter where we fall on the easy vs. hard spectrum of “new year, new us,” many will fail to reach the mark.

Goals/resolutions must be three things.
1. Clear (we must know exactly what it is)
2. They must be attainable (can you realistically achieve it)
3. Must be time-sensitive (When is it going to be done by)

There’s a saying my father always says, “Having no plan is a plan to fail.” As much as I hate to say this, my dad is right. We fail with the “new us” because we have no plan!

If we want to change something about our life, a plan is only the starting point. We also need, in the words of the Beatles, “A little help from our friends.” We all need community and accountability. As the old Italian saying points out,

“The one who drinks alone, chokes.”

If we want to reach our goals and not have a repeat of all the years before, it is a must. Jobs had Wozniak; Bill Gates had Paul Allen; Jesus had the disciples; Apostle Paul had Barnabas, Silas, and Timothy. We need people—people who will support us, people who challenge us, and people who love us no matter if we reach our goal or not.

Most importantly, what we need to kick our new beginning off is discipline. You need to want the new more than the old. Jordan Peterson points out,

You cannot aim yourself at anything if you are completely undisciplined and untutored.”

More acturate words haven’t been spoken. When life gets hard, maybe your progress seems stalled. When you feel like there isn’t a point to continuing, you do. Why? Because of discipline.

Discipline says that despite the adversity you continue on. Discipline says that you push away distractions so that you focus on what is essential.

In 1 Corinthians 9, Paul talks about being disciplined in our pursuit of Christ.

“Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.”

1 Cor 9:26-27

While I believe that the pursuit of a life in Christ is most important, this passage conveys the essence of what it means to be disciplined. Intention, discipline, integrity are just a few things we can take away.

New beginnings or the same old story? That’s what we need to ask ourselves, and it’s what we need to decide between. Are we going to accept the comfortable—settle into what we know and have lived thus far? Or are we going to push, push toward the prize? Sure, we might not see the goal happen the way we think, or at all, but in the worlds of Coldplay, “if you never try, you’ll never know…”

As you seek to become new you this year, let’s do so with clarity of what we want to be. Let’s be realistic with what we can attain, deciding when we want it done. Let’s invite others along for the journey and let’s be disciplined knowing that nothing that is worth it comes easy.

Check out the resources used in this post