My church (Gateway Community Church in Austin) recently completed a message series that emphasized the fact that we are created in the image of a God who is marvelously creative and imaginative, which means that we were made to be creative and imaginative as well. Creative outlets are as varied as creative people, but the pressures and expectations of the daily grind often leave us feeling like all of our creative juices have been mercilessly squeezed out of us.

One of the major themes of Leadership In Doubt is that each of us has a unique story to tell, and therefore each of us should find a way to share that story with others. It’s all too easy to listen to voices – external and internal – that insist we have nothing worthwhile to say. I’m not talking about political rants on Facebook or Snapchat photo essays from breakfast, but a lasting, creative legacy. Today’s excerpt touches on that theme, and I’d love to hear your thoughts on personal creativity.

I am an artist. We all are artists, with a creative side we long to explore, even as most of us fail to do so. God is the most creative, imaginative being in the universe, so it follows that, being created in His image, we share in that part of His nature. As kids we find all kinds of ways to be creative, and the older we get, the harder the world tries to beat us into submission through conformity and coloring within the lines.

Is building a really cool spreadsheet art? My friends at work know how seriously I take building a good spreadsheet would laugh and say that, if it helped them do their job a little better, it certainly was a masterpiece of function, even if it’s not on display in the Louvre.

Laura recently built a coffee table. She found an outlet for her creative side and brought it to life in our home. She used her own two hands and sense of adventure to build something that most people would buy at the store.

My point is this: how many people long to express themselves and choose not to because they don’t really believe that they’re the kind of person who does that? In particular, how many stories are left untold? How many people look at old family photos and lament the fact that no one knows the story behind where that trophy came from, or why their great-grandfather was shaking hands with Ernest Hemingway, or how could she be smiling after everything she went through? What would happen if anyone who had a story to tell took a chance and told it? Hurting, hopeless people would benefit from tales of overcoming challenges, defying the odds and good triumphing over evil. Storytelling is not reserved for the powerful or privileged; it is one of God’s gifts to each of us, and the world doesn’t get to decide who is allowed to tell their story, or how or when or why to do so.

Write, Relax, Repeat

Once the book was published I imagined that it would be easier to find the motivation to write on a regular basis. I think the sigh of relief I breathed may have been too big and relaxed me a bit too much, as that old familiar laziness has crept back into my bones. Blogging to stay sharp and share some of the big ideas from my book make so much sense, but like books, blogs don’t write themselves. Or can they?

Over the next few posts I’m going to share some excerpts from Leadership In Doubt. I hope they generate some discussion and pique your curiosity, and if you find any elements of your own story within mine, I hope you’ll be encouraged to explore how you might bless others by finding your own unique ways of sharing it.

“For years I tried to talk myself out of writing this book; in fact, for a long time it felt very scary even calling it a book, because books are meant to be written, not talked about in the abstract. The sad truth is that I didn’t really believe that I would – or, if I’m being totally honest, could – do it. Why put myself through a lot of anguish and give myself another reason to be self-critical? But this dream stubbornly refused to die. As I reflect on the unfolding of my life during the four years of my life when the dream started becoming reality (2011-2015), I believe that every experience of consequence was part of the preparation necessary to move me from a nagging, ever-present disbelief in myself, to an active belief in God’s relentless, unstoppable desire to transform me into the kind of person who doesn’t hide his light under a basket. This process has involved a lot of very painful pruning. I’ve had to admit a lot of unpleasant things about myself. I’ve had to learn to stop taking myself so seriously. And I’ve had to come to terms with the surprising truth that I have a story worth sharing, one that came to be shared in my own voice at just the right time.”