There’s this moment where creatives need to “come out” to their friends and families. While not as charged as a discussion about one’s sexual orientation, there are situations where I can imagine a parent gasping and wondering, “Where did I go wrong? Why couldn’t he be a doctor, lawyer, or architect?”
And even for “practical” folks like doctors and lawyers, they may find fulfillment in their careers, but in the evenings they experiment with torching a crème brulee, smudging pastels on a canvas, or writing novels about a doctor who fights crime on his smoke breaks. They may hide these side hobbies, worried what people will think of them.
It took me so long to accept the possibility that no other career felt right to me because God created me to be the freewheeling creative type.
Three weeks as a temp in a mortgage company’s South Jersey office was enough to drive home my need for a different kind of job. Endless days in a sea of cubicles and that one guy whose only conversation topic was the company softball team… it was like living in that movie Office Space. I knew I wasn’t cut out for that kind of job, but then what?
Can’t be that…
My practical side kicked in when I bumped into my creativity, devaluing it:
What can you DO with this creativity?
It’s like creativity becomes a liability, a waste of time, and, worst of all, a selfish pursuit that pulls us away from more important tasks.
There are ways we can misuse our creativity, but it need not be a liability. In fact, when we bump into that side of ourselves, we can re-ask that question with a different spin:
What CAN you do with this creativity?
My suspicion is that God isn’t running around in heaven with his arms in the air shouting, “Oh no! Ed found his creativity!!! What will we do with him if he doesn’t become a lawyer now???”
My creativity is a gift from God. So is yours.
We sometimes divide the world into people who are creative and people who aren’t, but the truth is that we all have some kind of creativity that stirs within us. We just think of ourselves as practical or write off creativity as something for kids.
This gift of creativity is something God intended us to use.
It would be a tremendous tragedy if my friends who are passionate about teaching children didn’t take jobs in elementary schools.
It would be terrible if my friend with a passion for new technology didn’t launch his own company.
It would be tragic if someone passionate about understanding the complexities of our world didn’t earn a PhD.
And lastly, it would be tragic if those called to write, paint, compose, or perform ignored those gifts.
It’s all the same in God’s eyes. All are gifts, and we can use them in any variety of ways. Some will experiment with our creative gifts on the side, while others will hone their arts full time. There isn’t a clock where you need to punch in a certain number of hours in order to legitimize your creativity.
When you have a creative gift, it’s yours to use and, and this is important, to practice.
God isn’t surprised like our friends and family by our creativity. He’s delighted that you have talents and gifts to share with others. And perhaps the greatest challenge is believing that we’re not being selfish by using them. We’re answering a holy calling.