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Whose Is It Really? Exploring Creativity as a Stewardship

Whose Is It Really? Exploring Creativity as a Stewardship

Is It mine? Isn’t it mine? God blessed me with it, didn’t He?

This is a question and conversation that we all need to engage with throughout our lives.

A core question, or truth, that we must face, whether you are currently a believer or not, is: Who/What is the source of life?

If you reach the conclusion that the source is Father God, the creator of all things, the big questions shouldn’t stop there.
Our next question should be…If God is the source of our lives, why were we created? What does our creator expect of us?

I think the last is an important question that has significant implications on how we live our lives. Those of us who believe in Jesus and trust Him with our salvation should also understand that we have surrendered our lives to Jesus. God’s Word reminds us that this means the end of self, that we die, and it is now Jesus who lives in us. (See Galatians 2:20)

The world may not recognize God the Father, the creator of all, as the owner and operator of all that He created. But we in Christ should, because we intentionally return the deed of the house back over to the Creator.

One of the places that makes the most sense for this conversation is found in Matthew 25:14-30. Let me read this passage and then talk about the implications for our lives.

Starting in verse 14:

14 “For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants[a] and entrusted to them his property. 15 To one he gave five talents,[b] to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. 16 He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. 17 So also he who had the two talents made two talents more. 18 But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money. 19 Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. 20 And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here, I have made five talents more.’ 21 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.[c] You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 22 And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here, I have made two talents more.’ 23 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 24 He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, 25 so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here, you have what is yours.’ 26 But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? 27 Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. 28 So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. 29 For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 30 And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

What we see here in the plainest language is God asking those who He’s invited into His kingdom to take what we’ve been given and treat it like an investment. To use it, to multiply it. This reflects the very first command that God the Father gave to humanity in Genesis 1:28 “And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

He told them to be fruitful and multiply. But this isn’t simply a recommendation of what we should do with our property. Instead, these are commands given by the One who still owns that which we hold.

As you saw in the parable in Matthew, this property still belonged to the master. And he, at a moment’s notice, could decide to reward the steward for excellent stewardship or remove the property and place it in the hands of one who has demonstrated they know how to invest and steward that property wisely.

This clearly makes sense as we engage in the conversation regarding our finances, even though we still struggle with the foundational truth that any finances God has given us, He has really just asked us to hold until He needs to use them again. It’s never that we have a certain amount of financial resources and decide to give a portion of it, even giving a portion of it back. All of our resources are His, and we have relinquished the illusion of control over them. Recognizing that at any moment, God has full ownership over those resources to do with them as He chooses for the betterment of His kingdom.

But let’s take that application even further. Why do we only engage with this conversation around finances?

What has God given us? What is the extent of His creation?

The truth is, everything we have, everything we are, is from Him and thus His. He has not relinquished ownership of anything that He has created. Therefore, everything is a question of our stewardship and not our ownership.

In the same way that each of the men in Matthew 25 had a responsibility to use what they were handed wisely, they were not owners of those resources but simply called upon to be managers of them.

For some, this can be an easy way to sidestep responsibility. But that would be making the same mistake as the one who buried the talents in the ground. He decided that he was not going to trust the heart and wisdom of the master but would instead give back exactly what the master had handed him. From a worldly perspective, this sounds fair and reasonable. But God called this servant worthless and slothful. While these are not identity statements, they are statements regarding this servant’s activity. The identity statement here is servant. Has that servant actually lived out the truth of who he’s called to serve? He disrespected the intent of his master and stopped truly serving him, instead serving his own fears and desires for self-preservation.

The master says to his creation, “Be fruitful and multiply.”

 

What if we applied that to our thoughts that He gives us? How do we ensure that each one of the creative ideas that He gives us is multiplied? How do we ensure that our character, our leadership skills, and our experiences are fruitful and multiplied?

Just like the wise servants, we can take those ideas, thoughts, skills, and experiences and invest them into different people and different work with intentional plans for them to bear fruit and multiply. So let’s apply that to every aspect of our lives and for the context of this conversation, specifically to our creative endeavors.

1. Recognize the Real Source

Recognize the source of our creativity is God. Acknowledge our creative abilities as gifts from God. This recognition helps us shift our focus from our often self-glorifying ways to making sure that all of our work truly glorifies God, the source of our creativity.

2. Develop and Hone Your Skills

It also means that we would have an intent to develop and hone our skills. 2 Timothy 1:6 says to “fan into flame the gift of God.” That gift Timothy spoke of is the Spirit of God poured into each one of us, but the gifts of God are numerous. They include every aspect of creation. Let us take those sparks and fan them into even more. Let us not be complacent with our creative ideas and skills. Let us invest time and effort into improving our skills—not for our own glory, but as an act of stewardship. He put that creative talent within us. Investing time in growing it is one way that we can steward it so that it can be fruitful and multiply.

Whether through formal education, simple practice, or seeking mentorship in how we use it, we would honor God by moving towards excellence in the use of our creative skills and using those skills to serve and inspire others.

3. Serve With Your Art

As we channel our creativity towards serving others and not just about creating a work of art, this could be another way to make sure it is fruitful. It could be through creating art that inspires, writing that encourages, or music that uplifts. Creating art for beauty’s sake can glorify the Father, but let us make sure that we lean in with the intent that it would be fruitful and multiply God’s glory as well. By doing so, we reflect God’s love and grace to the world, making sure that it multiplies more and more.

Engaging in community projects, collaborating with other creatives, and using our platforms to address social issues, spread the gospel, and bring about positive change are all ways to make sure that our creative gifts are fruitful and multiply.

4. Manage Your Creative Resources

What about managing the creative resources that He has given us? We all have the same amount of time, but are we using it wisely? Are we planning and prioritizing? Are we allocating specific times for creative work, knowing that we can get more out of it as we focus? Are we applying principles of financial stewardship that will help us get more out of our creative efforts as well? Managing our creative resources wisely is another way to ensure that our creativity is fruitful and multiplies.

5. Cultivate A Heart of Gratitude

Truly, cultivating a heart of gratitude and contentment should be where we begin. Being grateful for the gifts and content with what He’s poured into us, what He’s placed in our hands, can fuel the joy that will really mark everything we create. Joy that is birthed through God’s Spirit alone. Embracing a mindset of gratitude for the opportunities to create and sharing our work can help it truly be fruitful and multiply, as this is where the fruit of the Spirit will really live out its beauty through each work.

 

Take every gift, take every piece, take every aspect of the life that you may have thought was yours, and surrender it to the Father. Let Him have His way with it, as we continue to steward it for His glory. And as we live life this way, let us continue to recognize that His commands for stewardship are across all of creation, and let us lean into the question, “Is it mine?” Knowing that the answer is, “No, it’s His.”

 

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Is A Lack of Graitude Keeping You From Creating Your Best Work?

Is A Lack of Graitude Keeping You From Creating Your Best Work?

“I feel bad.”

Unfortunately, this is a common phrase spoken in my house, frequently expressed by my wife and daughter. My wife has always struggled with feeling guilty about everything, and there’s even been a sense of celebration when my daughter says she feels bad because, at least, it’s an emotion beyond a self-centered place.

But today, I had an epiphany.

My daughter has been moving towards turning her social media influence into an actual business. She currently has a brand deal that could allow her to create content at a K-pop conference in LA. It’s an exciting prospect for her, to say the least. However, my wife is not too thrilled about the idea of our Caribbean vacation becoming a three-day trip to LA so our daughter can experience this without being so far away from us. When my wife looked at activities she might enjoy in Los Angeles, she came up empty, despite there being plenty to do for my son, who loves amusement parks and pools.

When I reminded my daughter of this reality for her mother, the first thing she said was, “I feel bad.”

For whatever reason, that really resonated with me today. Maybe it’s because I’m fresh off a really engaging group coaching call from Phil Jones and Erwin McManus on communication. But today, I was listening more closely, and I found myself quickly refuting her statement and encouraging her not to feel bad, but simply to feel grateful.

It’s funny, the difference that gratitude versus guilt can make.

Guilt produces shame, which in turn produces separation, negatively affecting any relationship you want to develop. Gratitude, however, draws people closer and makes connections stronger. This positive emotion can propel and empower so many great things. Much more beauty is created in this world as a result of gratitude than from guilt and shame. So, I began to preach to her and to myself, and now to all of you, about the importance of changing the narrative from negative feelings of guilt to positive feelings of gratitude.

Gratefully receiving a gift calls us to joy and makes us want to give in return, either to the giver or by paying it forward to someone else who could use the blessing. Not because they deserve it, but because it would be our joy to give.

It’s interesting how powerful these stories are over us. You can refer back to a previous blog post I made when this blog began, where we discuss how these stories shape not only our emotions and actions, but our memories and perceived identity. But I want to settle in today on the thought about the unworthiness to receive the gift.

When I think about the guilt one feels instead of gratitude, it’s often because they know they are unworthy of the gift being bestowed. I can’t help but make the obvious correlation to the greatest gift of all—the gift of life and, more specifically, eternal life with God. None of us were deserving of that gift when it was sacrificed by Jesus on the cross. We could easily feel guilt and shame when reflecting on this, but doing so would cause us to miss out on the amazing benefits that come with receiving the gift with joy and gratefulness. Besides Jesus literally died in part, so we could be free of these same crippling emotions.

And we don’t receive the gift based on our worthiness. It is a gift not based on our worth, but on God’s joy in giving it. Do we understand that right now? That in receiving a gift from anyone, we are also giving them the gift of being able to exercise their joy on our behalf. It continues to be Jesus’s joy that we gratefully receive the gift.

It’s so amazing that right now, as I record the audio for this post, I walked down the block and saw two young boys playing catch in their yard. Their ball had been stuck in a tree. They tried and tried to get it down but couldn’t. When they saw me, they asked, “Can you help? Can you help, sir?”

Without thinking and with a smile, I walked up and showed them that if they just shook the right branch, the ball would eventually come down. As I shook the branch and the leaves fell, the ball finally came loose.

You know what they didn’t say? “Sir, I feel so bad about interrupting your recording.” They didn’t say, “Sir, I feel so bad that you have to stop your walk.” What they did say, multiple times with smiles on their faces, was, “Thank you. Thank you.” Then they joyfully returned to their play.

The narrative they are walking in right now is one of receiving joy in their life’s experiences versus feeling bad about the goodness and guidance God wants to bestow. We can’t fully experience an abundant and joy-filled, creative life with God while guilt and shame dominant their narrative.

Cicero said, “Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.”

We could spend so much time mourning what could be lost by ourselves or others, or we could focus on celebrating what we’ve gained and what we’ve had the opportunity to give.

What’s the narrative that you’re writing?

Alphonse Karr said, “We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorns have roses.”

Get out of guilt and shame. And instead take the trip of a lifetime…Go to grateful.

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How Can Joy Fuel Your Creativity?

How Can Joy Fuel Your Creativity?

As creatives, what we create originates from the depths of our hearts. Even God’s Word reminds us that our mouths speak from the overflow of our hearts.

When we examine the best works of our hands, we often find that the most beautiful creations flow not from a place of stress or anxiety, but from a heart brimming with joy and hope. This joy, particularly when grounded in an abiding relationship with God, provides a sense of fulfillment and purpose that truly fuels the creative passions we are called to pursue. While art should undoubtedly express the full range of our emotions, art that consistently lacks joy and hope can suffer creatively, becoming darker and less inspiring.

Nehemiah 8:10 reminds us that in our challenges and battles, the joy of the Lord is our strength.

For the Christ-centered creative, the joy we find in Jesus not only uplifts our spirits but also fortifies us, providing the strength and resilience needed to pursue our God-given creative passions. When our hearts are truly aligned with God and His joy, we find ourselves more open, free, generous, and willing to take creative risks as we build and create.

The Christian understands that joy is not merely an emotional state but an abiding truth born from the fruit oof the Spirit within us. As Leonardo da Vinci said, “Where the Spirit does not work with the hand, there is no art.” Our joy and inspiration in the creative process rely on the Spirit of God living within us. Without the joy that comes from God’s Spirit, our creativity will ultimately lack vitality and depth, diminishing its desired impact.

When we create from a place of joy, our work not only uplifts and inspires others but becomes contagious, spreading positivity like a viral infection that transforms ordinary work into something extraordinary, as the Spirit of God inhabits it. However, when our hope diminishes and our joy wanes, our creative output mirrors that reality.

Albert Einstein recognized the playful nature that results from joy, stating, “Creativity is intelligence having fun.” It’s in that playful spirit that we not only create smiles but also experience genuine joy in our hearts. Conversely, when that playful Spirit is absent, our creative endeavors can feel more like a burdensome process than a delight.

Therefore, let us stay connected and devoted to the Father, recognizing Him as the source of our joy. Let us remain in community with others who will encourage and support us. Such community is what the Orderd Chaos Club, when launched, will hopefully be. I would even recommend practicing gratitude, for training our hearts to be grateful helps us maintain a hopeful and joyful outlook on the life and the work we’ve been entrusted with.

The joy of the Lord is your strength today, Christ-centered creative. So go forth, be joyful, and create with joy.

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