April 10, 2015 • Life for Leaders
In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters.”
Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, celebrates creativity. The school’s posters proclaim: “Nobody puts creativity in a corner” and “When creativity is a state of being, there are no limits.” A promotional video explains, “Creativity is our foundation.” In another clip, a Lesley professor adds, “Creativity really empowers people to be the masters of their own universe.”
I realize that much of this is intentionally exaggerated, but such rhetoric reflects a common tendency to exalt human potential in a way that might actually limit it. Allow me to explain what I mean.
In Genesis 1, God is the one who “created” the heavens and the earth and everything they contain. The Hebrew verb translated as “to create” is bara’, which appears five times in Genesis 1. In this chapter and throughout the Bible, bara’ is used only for God’s activity. In other words, only God “creates.” Human beings “make.”
Now, I don’t think it’s wrong to use the English word “create” for human work, just as long as we don’t think of our creativity as somehow equal to that of God. No matter how wonderful our creativity might be, it does not actually empower us to be the masters of our own universe. There is only one Master of the universe, the Creator of all things and, indeed, the Creator of our creativity.
As human beings created in God’s image, we have the potential to make things, to envision and, indeed, to create new things within limits. I would suggest that our creativity will be enhanced the more we recognize God’s unparalleled creativity and live in relationship with our unique Creator. In relationship with God, we will find new inspiration, wisdom, and vision. Through our creative endeavors we will draw near to God and come to know more of him. We will discover how our creativity can be part of God’s grand creative and redemptive purposes.
So, though it may not find its way into a promo video for the Max De Pree Center or Fuller Seminary, I believe Genesis would have us say, “Creativity is a gift from the Creator. God, the one true Master of the universe, has created us as creative beings made in his image. Thus, we will be maximally creative when we live as apprentices of the Master, learning from him and offering our creative works for his purposes and glory.”
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
In what ways has God made you to be creative? How has your relationship with God enhanced your creativity? Are you exercising the creative gifts God has given you? If so, when and how? If not, why not? How might you be a co-creator with God today?
Master of the Universe, all glory be to you for you have created all things. Indeed, you have created us in your image, endowing us with creative abilities. What a joy and a privilege! Thank you.
As I do my work today, Lord, may I exercise the creative gifts you have given me. May I do so in a way that honors your lordship, enhances the goodness in this world, and contributes to your purposes. Amen.
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.
Learning that the Hebrew word translated “created” in Genesis 1 (and throughout the Bible), bara’, is used only of God’s activity and never of humans’ was new to me. I really appreciate this and think it is deeply significant. I’ll be pondering its implications for quite some time. Thank you.
Thank you for your comment, Catherine.