You’re know you’re getting old when you find yourself rapt by public television…

While flipping through channels recently, I saw images of an African culture called the Maasai (moss-eye) and became immediately riveted.

The Maasai reside close to the birthplace of humankind in central Africa. These warriors now live primarily in wild animal reserves, often carrying weapons and wearing bright red clothing.

In the show, this ethnic group collected specific iron-rich rocks from dry riverbeds. These rocks, when ground, render an orange powder used for decoration and face-painting. Iron, when exposed to oxygen, turns rusty-orange, the color of much of the clay-infused soil in that region. African women have even been known to eat crumbling adobe bricks during pregnancy, likely due to iron deficiency.

Where are we going with this geology lesson?

Iron serves as an essential element in blood, and blood sustains life. In our hemoglobin, iron bonds with oxygen, carrying it to cells in our body. It is iron’s exposure to oxygen that turns our blood red.

This got me thinking…

God created man from the dust of the ground (Genesis 2:7), and infused elements of that dust even into our blood. Surely, he could have created humans from nothing! He created light, hung planets in space, and so forth. But when it came to us, His most prized creation, He used dirt!

When Moses asked how he would challenge Pharaoh, God said “What’s that in your hand?” Later, David defeated Goliath not with a ground-breaking weapon, but with a simple sling used in a novel way.

Creativity stems from the adaptation of existing materials. A metal alloy is not created from nothing, but rather two metals bonded together to form something new.

Maybe as a leader you feel the pressure to create something from nothing. Yet, according to Frans Johansson’s The Medici Effect (2017), many of the greatest innovations throughout history come at the intersection of seemingly disparate (and existing) fields. The marriage of rock music and folk music birthed grunge. An electric car merged with a gas automobile produced a hybrid.

What opportunities exist today to use current knowledge in new ways towards creative innovation?

Daniel Gluck serves as Lead Faculty for Jessup’s B.A. in Christian Leadership program.