Today’s Eugene Peterson Quote:
Everyone is born to live creatively, but many of us fail to do so. Largely because we are lazy. Creativity is difficult. When you are creative, you’re living by faith. You don’t know what’s next because the created, by definition, is what’s never been before. So you’re living at the edge of something in which you’re not very confident. You might fail: in fact, you almost certainly will fail a good part of the time. All the creative persons I know throw away most of the stuff they do. Eugene Peterson (from Rodney Clapp’s Introduction to The Contemplative Pastor p.14)
If there is one amazing fact we can all agree upon in the Creation story found in the Book of Genesis, it’s the fact that our God certainly loves creativity. The creative wonders of the cosmos; from the smallest cell (a type of bacteria known as mycoplasma with its’ diameter of 0.0001 mm) to the largest known concentration of galaxies in the universe (the Shapley Supercluster); are still being unpacked by scientists today. And from my seat on the bench, it will take eternity for us humans to fully comprehend the totality of God’s creativity as displayed in our world around us.
And as Eugene Peterson states here, I believe God has released a piece of that same amazing creativity into the hearts and minds of His highest creation, man. When the Scriptures say that we are made ‘in His image,’ my belief is that our creativity is one of the primary differences that indeed sets us apart from all the other living creatures God placed on this planet. But alas, as Peterson states, we creative humans are lazy. Combine our laziness with our fear of failure and the fact that our creativity might possibly produce a lack of acceptance from the ‘status quo’ people around us, and most of us sit on our duff, blending in with the dull and drab environment we call ‘playing it safe.’
As I see it, pastors and shepherds of God’s people should be some of the most creative people on the planet. As those who take our lead from the Master Creator, tending the flock of God, we should always be looking for creative new ways to display the amazing wonders of our loving, head Shepherd to this unbelieving and uncaring world. But unfortunately, the ugly 3-B’s; the pursuit of bigger (B)uildings, more (B)ucks, and increased numbers of (B)utts in the seats; limits our thinking to numbers only, and before long we pastors are sitting in front of our calculators and church growth books, looking more like nerdy bookkeepers than the creative reformers God originally intended us to be.
(No offense to creative nerdy bookkeepers, of course!)
You see, church history is full of brave men and women who dared to challenge the status quo of religion in order to breathe a new wave of creativity into the church of Jesus Christ. Space here does not allow the proper identification of all those creative ones who have gone before us. Paul of Taurus, Francis of Assisi, Teresa of Avila, Martin Luther, George Fox, John Wesley, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King, Billy Graham are just a few names that immediately come to my mind. Pastors and shepherds who chose to forsake the status quo and let their God-given creativity flow.
And what about you and me? Are we content to let the status quo of the Americanized church remain unchallenged? Are we ready to move into a whole new realm of creativity with the Holy Spirit, where we’re willing, as Peterson says, to fail? Are we willing to risk the persecution or rejection that comes from being creative? Are we willing to throw away most of our creative ideas in order to have that one piece of art that changes everything?
I pray so, my dear friends. I pray so.
My prayer: My Great Creator, I confess that I so often take the lazy way out, settling for safe and predictable when You actually enjoy me the best when I’m taking the creativity You gave me and using it for creative purposes here on earth. I choose today, Lord, to not sit on my duff, playing it safe. Holy Spirit, breathe in me a fire for utilizing the unique creativity the Creator endowed within me. For Your name’s sake. Amen.
My questions to ponder: So how have I settled for gray and drab in my life while Jesus of Nazareth desires me to imagine my life in living color? What conscious steps can I take today to step out of my laziness and use more of the creative gifts God has given me to bless others and myself?
So what is God speaking to you today as we ponder together The Contemplative Pastor?
Over a 37-blog series, you and I will take a deeper look at Eugene Peterson’s classic, The Contemplative Pastor: Returning to the Art of Spiritual Direction. In order to keep all the blog sessions organized, we suggest you bookmark our blog series home page for ease of use. Keep in mind that one of the best ways to explore the on-going applications of this blog series is to walk alongside a biblically-based, Christ-centered spiritual director who is familiar with how to make material like this part of your overall spiritual formation in God. Many of our directors in our Contemplative Activist network are available to companion you in your journey with Jesus. Click here for more info.
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