Fear kills creativity.

One of the things I’ve found over the last few years with how quickly life seems to be changing is that many people I interact with are operating out of a deeply anxious space.

They’re anxious about the health of relationships, their career track, their future. Anxiety kills creativity.

Just picture this:

The more anxious or afraid we are, the more we back into a corner and begin to close our hands, hold tighter, and think defensively.

While it’s true that fear kills creativity, it’s also true, on the other end of the spectrum, that faith breeds creativity. Faith is opening our hands. Faith is a posture of expectation.

Faith hopes, it dreams, and it struggles to believe that, with God, all things are possible.

In walking by faith we embrace our potential to shape culture instead of react to it.

In walking by faith we embrace our potential to shape culture instead of react to it. Through faith we can dream of new solutions rather than trying the same old techniques, and we can embrace change rather than being crushed by it.

There’s a massive difference between living life as Christians by formula as opposed to living by faith.

There are two kinds of people in this world:

Those who create and those who copy.

I first thought of this in reference to leadership.You see, no matter how effective best practices or learning from the competition can be, ultimately we’ll never be on the front edge of leadership if we’re walking down a trail that someone else has blazed.

Over time I’ve come to believe that creating vs. copying is actually a difference in posture and mindset not merely in leadership but in all of life.

Some proudly use the word “copy” as a kind of bravado of honesty and transparency.

In this vein, Picasso is attributed with saying, “Good artists copy, great artists steal,” and Einstein with, “The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources.” Or as Voltaire more mildly put it, “Originality is nothing but judicious imitation. The most original writers borrowed one from another.”

I think we all understand and can appreciate this sense of the word copy.

After all, only God creates completely from scratch. The adage for us is this: If it works, borrow it. If it doesn’t, ignore it.

It’s an honest admission that we all have been shaped by a thousand hands…

It’s an honest admission that we all have been shaped by a thousand hands, and much of our creative energy takes inspiration from what we have seen, experienced, and appreciated.

I recently heard Cornel West say it like this: “Nobody steps into the Hall of Fame alone.”

The sense of copy I’m using is neither the playful one nor the authentic one just described.

Rather, I’m talking about “copying” as a mindset that refuses to consider new ideas and new relationships. This kind of copying is a habit of never thinking outside the box, never adapting to rapid change, never being willing to fail. This kind of copying simply takes what is known and safe and repeats it ad infinitum.

Creators, on the other hand, do borrow much . . . but for the purpose of making things new. The Renaissance artists of Florence borrowed from Greek myths, humanism, and Roman architecture, but always with the mindset of transforming—not merely copying—what had come before.

That’s God’s call to us as well:

Don’t just be copiers, but creators.

We’ve all been given things from which to borrow: family histories, jobs, talents and skills, interests and hobbies—even our race and gender, the country we live in, our language, schooling, and stage of life.

Out of this raw material God invites us to create, to move forward into the fullest expression of God’s creative image in us. We are being asked to reject copying in order to create, extend, and breathe life into what is meant to flourish.

So we find things that work.

We study our heroes and learn about best practices. But we maintain a mindset of creativity and always look to transform rather than merely replicate.

In fact, there’s a close correlation to our creative mindset and our understanding of who we’re called to be…

In fact, there’s a close correlation to our creative mindset and our understanding of who we’re called to be and who we are as made in the image of God. Artistic ability may be a talent that some possess but creativity is a human trait. As Dorothy Sayers once said, “Man is never truly himself except when he is actively creating something.”

One of the fascinating things about creativity is that it begets more creativity. This isn’t just a great pragmatic insight, it’s also something deeply spiritual.

Our walk of faith, the practice of exercising the creativity of the image of God in us, and looking at the future through the eyes of imagination and possibility are all ways of talking about finding our humanity and aligning ourselves with God.

Life may be changing fast, you may be worried about your career, and the future may be uncertain, but as a deeply creative being made in the image of a creative God you can walk forward and dream.

This post originally appeared on Storyline and was republished with permission. 

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