One man that I have always admired is probably someone you have never heard of, a man named George Toma aka. “the Marquis de Sod”. He was the groundskeeper at Kauffman and Arrowhead Stadiums. He has also been the head groundskeeper for every Super bowl. As I read his book, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Man, I was almost moved as he recounted with passion the silt/sand/clay mixture that made up the mound at the K, the bermuda/rye blend that made up the Arrowhead turf, the care he took painting logos, and the way he lined and mowed the designs in the field. Throughout the book, I was drawn in by the way his creativity manifested itself upon fields of competition. I remembered wanting to do his job when I was a kid.
Since childhood my hero’s have changed: Steve Bezos creating Amazon.com on a napkin during a summer drive at a time when only 1 in 10 American adults even used the internet; the horsemanship of Josh Rushing and Scott Dailey; Peter Higgs predicting the existence of the boson particle in 1964 (confirmed 2013); the writing of Aaron Sorkin, Baxter Black, and John Erickson; Flight Director Gene Krantz and the men of NASA during the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo missions; the photography of Robert Dawson; the students that make my Dairy Queen Blizzards. Though my hero’s have changed, their common thread is constant: creativity. I am envious of these people because, just like you, I was created to create.
Genesis 1.26-27 is a conversation amongst the Trinity, the out come being the creation of man in the ‘image of God’ (imago dei). What do we really know about the God whose image we bear? Flipping through Scripture much can be learned, but what do we know at this point, after just 26 verses? Nearly everything God had done was some kind of creative action. God “created” (bara’), from nothing, the 5% of the universe we can see and the 95% dark matter and energy that we will never see. He organized and “separated” (badal); “called” (qara) and named; “made” (‘asa) and “placed”; we know little about God at this point in scripture other than at His core, He is creative. Nancy Pearcy, in her book Total Truth, claims: “Those in relationship with the Creator should be the most creative of all.” [Pearcy Truth: 58] It is our proximity and likeness to God that gives humanity a creative nature. It is no coincidence that the first man in scripture to be denoted as being “filled with the Spirit” was Bezalel, a skilled and knowledgeable craftsman in order to “engage in artistic craftsmanship” (Ex. 35.30-33). Our relationship with God through his Spirit is rooted in the statement of Genesis 1.27. Creativity is central to the character of God, therefore it is central to our being as humans.
Creativity is something for most of us that was left behind with macaroni art and hand turkeys. In many minds, creativity is waving to us in the rear-view mirror. If resourcefulness and inventiveness is so central to who we are, created in the image of a creative God, what needs to change for us to embrace our position as created creators?
Students of all ages (especially High School and Middle School) are enamored with of creativity and it should be the mission of leaders and church, to foster and support this creativity. Whether it is creating buildings and adventures with Minecraft, painting their nails, or drawing on their binders, all students are budding artists, builders, problem solvers, with forms and mediums as numerous and different as they are. The job of youth leaders is to find ways to encourage and elevate their creativity and creations. It is students living out and exploring the way they were created. The church leadership must use its creativity to encourage theirs. Allowing them to paint a mural, graphically design slides, pick worship songs, sidewalk chalk the front steps, or give them design capabilities of the youth group website not only will build a bridge between them and the congregation, but allow them to exercise their creative nature.
Find ways to foster and discover your own creativity. Whether it’s mowing your yard a different pattern every time, training horses, drawing up football plays, writing a lesson to teach students, there is a need for creativity to be a working cog in the life of a disciple. This is a central tenant in the Christian life, to live creatively. What are you doing as an expression of God’s work in your life? What are you creating? The whole and integral Christian is in part a creative life.
Take pleasure in your creativity and know that you are doing exactly what God created you to do. The fish was made to swim, the horse was made to run, and you were made to create. After you find a place, an activity, and a time to create, spend some time taking pleasure in knowing that God has made you as a creative being. To those of us concrete thinkers, taking time to enjoy our creation and our expression to God, will at first be cumbersome and tiring. Next time you problem-solve a troubled horse, build a fence, forge a shoe, take a picture, or jot down a poem, rhyme or limrick, take a moment to thank the God who gave you the power and ability to create. The goal is to use our creativity as worship to the Great Artist in Genesis 1: God.
I agree with Francis Schaffer when he concluded: “even for the great artist, the most crucial work of art is his life.” [Schaeffer 1973:33] Let us reflect his image in life and in creative expression: no matter what form it takes!