I’ve been attempting, over the last few days, to show how important it is to develop the ability to create as a pattern of life rather than simply living as a problem solver. This is particularly true with regard to my big, audacious, imaginative, and Spirit-driven, vision of missional-ecumenism. How can the church in general, and church leaders in particular, imagine a new future that is very different from the past? Simply put, “Why would you create anything?”
What actually motivates the creator is “the desire for the creation to exist” (58) says Robert Fritz in The Place of Least Resistance. Emotions will change, rising and falling, but this desire to create remains steady when you have grasped the end for which you wish to create. “A creator creates in order to bring the creation into being.” You create not for a return on investment, or to please everyone (or anyone) else, but rather because you see the need, or the end purpose, for its own sake. Poet Robert Frost, a highly creative person himself, wrote, “All the great things are done for their own sake” (quoted by Fritz, 58).
Fritz suggests that parents who love their children can grasp this point more easily than the rest of us. Most parents love their child for who the child is, not as an extension of their own identity. The child has a life of his or her own. The child is a separate being. “The parent loves the child enough to bring the child into being and nurture the child until adulthood” (59). Healthy parents grasp this. It is the same with healthy creative leaders and practitioners. The creation is like your children. You bring them into being and nurture them so they can live. “You are not what you create. Even though your creations come from and through you, your creations are separate from you” (59, italics are mine). Think of our work as a form of co-creating as God’s image bearers, persons made by an eternal creator. We do not create anything without his will, permissive or otherwise. But create we do and in one sense we cannot help but desire to create unless this desire is dulled by other things in our lives.
Fritz says, quite simply, “The reason you would create anything is because you love it enough to see it exist” (59). This sums up my passion for missional-ecumenism wonderfully well. I long to see unity among Christians and churches exist. I am often blunted in this desire by people’s blindness and stubbornness. Some do see it and, with me, act on it. As the creator of a dream for something much bigger than I can conceive I press on, regardless of initial response and failure. I learn all that I can about my dream; e.g. what it will take to nurture it, how to lead people into it, etc. I foster contexts in which I can share my dream. I watch for God-given responses that actually indicate something new is coming into existence. This “new” thing is the Spirit’s work yet the Spirit wants to use me as a creator and dreamer.
In this creative process the most important and powerful question you ever ask is: “What do I want?” For me, as a Christian creator, I ask, “What do I believe God wants to use me to create?” This process, if followed, is very close to what Fritz is saying and yet it is suffused in prayer and spiritual conversation in my own context. I must be careful to never dwell on the “how” question before investing deeply in the “what” question or I will give up. I’ve learned this point from six-plus decades of experience.
Let me illustrate my point from the field of education, which has many parallels with my vision since I am a Christian educator. In the education system “aptitude is often substituted for vision. For many people, their doing well on certain aptitude tests in secondary school was a great tragedy, because traditional guidance counseling helps students find out what they might be good at and