In my job as Development Pastor at Circle of Hope Broad and Washington I am always on the hunt for a good idea- a new flyer idea, an idea for an event that could attract some new friends, a new idea for how to engage someone at an event in the city. Doing so much brainstorming and so much listening to God has me thinking about the creative process. What’s me and what’s God and does it matter?
A professor of mine at Princeton Theological Seminary, Robert Dykstra, said that in writing a sermon a pastor ought to plan to reach the edge of him or her self–the limits of his or her capacity for boredom–and in that place he or she would experience the best environment for God to speak. I still remember what Chris Falson said at a worship conference at Circle of Hope more than a year ago: when he writes a song it’s a meditative experience. He’s just jamming for a long time, almost turning off his mind, waiting for the song to emerge (he probably said more than that, but that’s what I remember).
I think what Dykstra and Falson are describing is an emptying process. The Christian artist is not interested in filling up the world with self expression, but in filling up the self with God. This is what we mean when we of Circle of Hope say in our proverbs, “Since we are each and all temples of the Holy Spirit, art among us is never merely a matter of “self-expression.” This is not only a commentary on the prevailing philosophy in the art world, but a proclamation of freedom for those who wish to create. I’m hearing it as good news today.
I know I’m not reaching the limits of boredom or meditating my way to many of my ideas these days. I wish I had enough time to do that, but usually I’m just going with whatever idea comes up first. I guess this blog post could become a lament for how my creative process is less developed than it should be, but I’m not going there. I am receiving the free gift of the ideas that I do get blessed with, and even more so I am praising God for the good work he has done with my under developed ideas. I am free from the demand to produce for my own glory and the subsequent burden of scrutiny that the creative process inevitably yields when the work is shared.
My creativity is all about sharing. I am trying to find new ways to connect with people, so everything I do is designed for someone to see. It has me feeling vulnerable and pretty used up. When I find myself in that condition–begging for some new ideas, I’m really begging for God to fill me up. So pray with me today for time to spend being filled by God. I pray that for you too.