Sunday, August 10, 2014

How, and Why, to Be More Creative

“Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainties.” 
Erich Fromm

Every day, every week, we go about our lives as Christians. We go out into the world, speak from the pulpit, sing behind our guitar, play in a band, write blogs, and/or paint canvases. Or we dream about doing that, and doing it with wild abandon for God. But often, we instead just do much less because it’s easier that way.

Why follow that creative urge, especially in the church? Why not just fall in line with everything the way we have always done it? Isn't that much less risky and still getting the job done?

Well, sure, it is easier. But it’s not what God wanted from us. He wanted us to be creative.

“If God wasn't content to make a bland, predictable world, why are we content to make church that way? Why do we come up with one way of doing things and become content to do that same thing over and over again? Why do we not challenge our thinking and move to greater heights of innovation?” - from “The Creative Leader”, by Ed Young

I have to admit that this book is really feeding me right now. Pastor Young from Fellowship Church in Dallas may have written this book a few years ago, but I am often late to the party in reading books. (There is a lot to read you know). But he emphasizes what I feel we've been teaching at For the Creative Soul for over a decade now.

Yes, we know that if we stick to our tried and true way of doing our services, our music, our art, or whatever it is we do, it will likely not upset the apple cart, and hey, God’s people are being served right? But many of those apples are sour or rotten anyway, and maybe it’s time we do something else and bring a fresh message to the folks we are ministering to.

It may be your confidence in your creative or artistic ability that is holding you back. But as I have blogged about many times, talent is subjective and relative. What one person considers good may be horrible to another. Also, many times people can start out with a very basic talent but develop it over the years if they work hard enough. Nobody was really “born with talent”. (See this blog for more on this: http://forthecreativesoul.blogspot.com/2014/03/talent-is-overrated.html)

“One of the reasons we ignore our creative potential is a gnawing sense of inadequacy in the creative realm. Rather than giving God our best creative efforts within the church, we often give Him excuses. We compare ourselves to others, convinced that we can't possibly do it as well as this or that person.” - from “The Creative Leader”, by Ed Young

If you are ready to serve with your talents, then the first step is to get out there with them. Whether you want to play in the band, lead worship, or bring whatever artistic thing you do into the church, you need to speak up and find a way. The real way we all started serving with our talents was to walk in and ask if we could sing, play, work, help, or lead.

But there is a bigger reason we must lead and serve with our creative talents from whatever position God has put us. It’s because we are made in the image of the Great Creator, which would of course make us little creators (small c). Jesus showed us how to do it, and the Holy Spirit gives us the power to do it.

“So why should we implement creativity in leadership? God invented it. Jesus modeled it. The Holy Spirit empowers it because people need it. If we church leaders are going to live out the challenging mission that God has laid out for the local church, we must unleash the creative potential available to us, develop it, and use it to communicate the most compelling message ever given to mankind. Creativity is not an option for the church; it is a biblical mandate that flows from the very character of the Creator.” - from “The Creative Leader”, by Ed Young

Being creative and working hard to infuse everything we do in our ministries and churches is a biblical mandate! I love that.

So there you go, your bi-monthly mandate has been issued.

Have a great week!

EC
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Eric Copeland is an author, producer, composer, and many other things that force him at virtual gunpoint to eat, live, breathe, and think creative all day long. But that is because he practiced for a long time in a life as a keyboard player, arranger, worship leader, and consultant. Need help with your next steps as a creative Christian or church? Read through the rest of the site and see how we can help! Start here

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Why Quitting Isn’t an Option

"There's only one thing that can guarantee our failure, and that's if we quit. - Craig Breedlove

So, you've decided that since nothing is happening with your music, art, or talents that you should just hang it up. Go do something else. Maybe this creative thing is just not for you.

No one is knocking at your door or the phone isn't ringing with requests for what you do. Nothing has really happened as you have tried to get out there. Sales, showings, or opportunities are low, or nonexistent.

So, you've come to the logical conclusion that God is trying to tell you to quit doing this.

Really? Is that how you think God works? Is that how He worked in the Bible?

Abraham knew he was old to have children, and that Sarah couldn't physically. But God didn't say, "You know, forget it you geezers. You really are too old for kids." Instead God said to Abraham, "Look up at the sky and count the stars – if indeed you can count them." Then he said to him, "So shall your offspring be."

Or when Paul was in the boat during the great storm and the men thought all was lost, God didn't send an angel to Paul saying "I'd hit the lifeboats!" He instead told Paul to hold on.

God does not suggest quitting. If anything, He tells us to endure, and for a quite interesting reason.

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us." - Hebrews 12:1

What I love about this verse is the first part. We are surrounded by people watching us and what we will do. If you have set an example to those around you that you are working to use the talents God has given you, and then give up, what kind of precedent are you setting? And not just for family or friends, but what about total strangers and acquaintances that are watching what a "Christian" does to see if they want to emulate that life?

When you think about it, Abraham and Paul were showing an example of faith by not giving up. We have to as well.

In the creative world I live in, I get to work with many talented folks. But I would say they are successful for a reason that goes beyond their talent: They didn't quit. When it didn't make much money, they fought through the lean times. When it didn't bring fame, they woodshedded on it privately. When it didn't seem like there was any future in it, they kept at it anyway.

Many times people call me up and ask if I'm "still doing" music or design or web. I say yes, and sometimes just that conversation even turns into new paying work or opportunity. I get paid to do creative things I love simply because I STILL do it.

I’ve also worked with many creative folks over the years, and some will work at it and stay with it, and some won’t. Early on clients will ask me why this creative person is doing so well, and why some other person isn’t (or has quit). There are a few answers to this. But mostly, the creatives who found success simply stayed with it.

I'm interested in that thing that happens where there's a breaking point for some people and not for others. You go through such hardship, things that are almost impossibly difficult, and there's no sign that it's going to get any better, and that's the point when people quit. But some don't. - Robert Redford

There’s no real equation to it, and in fact it may be something personality driven and having very little to do with talent. In fact sometimes just keeping at it, continuing to learn and grow, can be the very difference between working hard AT it and finding success working IN it.

A professional writer is an amateur who didn't quit. - Richard Bach

Lastly, let me say this. If you have heard a little voice in your ear saying it’s time to quit, don’t come to me and say God is telling you to quit. God does not whisper and tell us to quit, but to endure and run the race.

Enjoy your beautiful craft in whatever way you do it, however it serves God, and whenever inspiration strikes. Here’s something you CAN quit: all this talk of giving up.

Just don’t give up trying to do what you really want to do. Where there is love and inspiration, I don’t think you can go wrong.” – Ella Fitzgerald

Have a great week!

EC
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Eric Copeland is writing all this because he didn't quit when Nashville and others in the creative world told him he didn't have what they were looking for. And so, he built his own creative business, and it’s turned out to be the new and likely future model for all creative people just like you. For more info check out http://www.CreativeSoulOnline.com

Sunday, May 18, 2014

If For No One Else

Very often, you will strain your everlovin’ mind to think who needs to see or hear your stuff. Who needs to benefit from your talent? Why did God put you here in the first place if not to bless others with what you can do?

Then there are others days, maybe like today, where you feel no one is listening and even if they did, what you do wouldn't affect them one bit.

Now, this will NOT be a blog post about how you always have an audience of One, and God smiles at every song, painting, or photo you produce. (He does by the way, but this will not be about that.)

Sunday, April 20, 2014

What Are You Going to Do About It?

I remember a few times through my life, facing physical challenges on the playground or later a professional challenge, and being presented with this very question. What was I going to do to prove what believed in?

This past week was the Easter weekend. On Sunday, you saw everyone online proclaim what we Christians hold as the very tenet of our faith: He is Risen!

So I ask you, Creative person reading this, what are you going to do about it?

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Talent is Overrated

I've talked about talent many times in my blogs for Christian creatives, and recently have begun reading a fascinating book called “Talent is Overrated” by author Geoffrey Colvin.

The reason this book speaks to me, and I think might be interesting to you, is that the author posits that talent is perhaps not born already to go as we may have thought. For years, we have thought that the reason there were “talented geniuses” in music, sports, or business is that they must have been born that way; that they were more predestined by God than others to get “the gift”.

“The natural-gift explanation also explains why extraordinary performers are so rare; God-given talents are presumably not handed out willy-nilly. This explanation has the additional advantage of helping most of us come to somewhat melancholy terms with our own performance. A God-given gift is a one-in-a-million thing. You have it or you don’t. If you don’t—and of course most of us don’t—then it follows that you should just forget now about ever coming close to greatness.” – Geoffrey Colvin

And this is what we do. We assume that God in His infinite wisdom chose our music minister, or Picasso, or Mozart for greatness or at least a much higher level of creativity than us. We figure we just didn't get God’s blessing.

Sunday, March 09, 2014

You Were Created to Serve

“If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.” John 12:26

I think all of us who are creative and trying to use our talents feel that God gave them to us for a reason. We feel they need to be used and nurtured, as well as shown off to the world. But that’s where thing get wonky.

When we show off our artistry, we can get all sideways with things. Suddenly we get concerned with odd things like what people will think, whether we are amazing, and even how we’ll make money at it. These things start to really affect how and sometimes even if we will continue to pursue our art.

I've even heard artists say or intimate that if no one is buying it, and there’s not money to be made here, then why pursue art at all?

If we can’t absolutely be the best at our chosen art form, what’s the freaking point?

But there’s a simple answer to these concerns.

Sunday, February 09, 2014

The Value of the Valley

Creative highs and lows are what we call "An Occupational Hazard".

There's nothing like that awesome feeling where everyone gets what you are doing, and people are lining up to tell you how much you blessed them. You feel like you are making a difference in people's lives, and you see real results. You actually see God working right before your eyes.

But then, one day, the phone stops ringing. The church folk just seem a little distant. The songs just are not coming, and you wonder if you will ever write again. Life steps in with personal things you simply must deal with and you must put family issues on the front burner. Someone gives you a very negative review, one that hurts. You pray to God to give you strength, but truly feel like maybe He wants you to quit all this creative nonsense and go sell shoes.

"And then...depression set in"
- Bill Murray (Stripes)

Welcome to the valley, folks.

About the Author

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Eric Copeland is an author, producer, keyboardist, songwriter, and president of Creative Soul Companies. What is Creative Soul? Our main goals are to inform, encourage, and assist Christian creative folks in ministry, no matter where they are in their journey. Thanks for reading! Find out more about us at http://www.CreativeSoulOnline.com