We face a conundrum in families, churches, and businesses alike. We need more creativity than ever, to relate to, communicate with, and shape a dramatically changing world. But for various reasons, the creativity genie is stuck in the bottle. Why?

CreativityHere are my “Top 5.” What would you add?

1. Our traditional western educational model systematically quenches creativity and steers us into conformity. Many of us have suppressed our imagination for so long, it’s just a faint flicker not a roaring fire. We need new models!

2. As Sir Ken Robinson has said, we’ve been told by so many people that we can “never make a living” with music, art, sculpture, dance, and drama that we now believe them, and we’ve resigned ourselves to left-brain activities instead. We need a right-brain revival! 

3. We’re afraid. Afraid of having an idea ridiculed. Afraid of a boss telling us to “stay in your lane.” Afraid of failure! Be more afraid of failing to try, than trying and failing!

4. We don’t care. We’re content to just leave all the thinking to someone else. Besides, we’re busy. We’re tired. We’re new. We’re young. We’re old. Excuses never lead to break-throughs!

5. We feel under-resourced. Even if we came up with something new and exciting, could we pull it off? There’s probably not enough time; surely not enough money. Let’s hide behind the budget. Resources usually follow conviction, not complaint! 

For decades (and longer) “vision” has been a primary focus for leaders and leadership. We’ve been told that if we can catch and cast vision, everything else follows. But I’d like to suggest that real vision — compelling vision, transformational vision — is just a sub-category of creativity.

The real threat to effective leadership is not lack of vision but our inability to think; specifically, to think creatively. We mimic what we see, rather than make something new. We copy what is common, rather than create something catalytic. We repeat what we’ve done before rather than carve out a new way.

The life of Jesus was marked by renewal and creativity; new ways to see the world, to understand God, and to build community. Following Him surely calls us to more of the same.

If you lead others, lead them into creativity. What are the main hurdles standing in your way?

— David Timms

Transformational leadership involves “producing change and building lives through authenticity, inspiration, empathy, and innovation.” This Fall, we plan to write specifically on the topic of unlearning conformity and unleashing creativity. It’s a crucial theme that is rarely discussed in leadership literature. Thanks for joining us on the journey.