Monday, August 20, 2012

Using Creativity

Using Creativity:  Self-promotion, or Dying to Self?

(soap box mode on)

So many internet users scramble to collect a lot of  “friends” or chase after self-branding.  The images they post, and the tone of all the writings, is supposed to fit an ongoing theme.  And their presence on the web is calculated to get them more friends or more sales or more success.

A lot of bloggers now are publishing books or selling artwares or gifts.  After while, one wonders if some of them blog for the pleasure of writing, or only to drum up more public notice.  “If you are only able to read one book this year, THIS is it---- “ proclaim countless sites. 

A popular subject at this time is “you ought to use your creativity”. 

I’m not against making money online.  I’m not against books, or artwares, or products.  I’m certainly not against using one’s creativity.  I mean, being creative is “who I am.”  I’m made in the image of God – the Great Creator – therefore I’m reflecting Him when I unleash my creative gifts.  But I have to be careful not to let any show of activity define who I am. 

Unfortunately, for personal reasons, other people’s suggestions on how to “unleash creativity” often make me feel lost, deprived, or wounded.  I’m not a strong person.  Actually, I need a way to stay challenged and creative in my mind while giving myself permission not to create more actual projects than I can handle.

Others’ advice on how to find time to be creative often makes me feel I can’t measure up.  Say “no” to other activities.  Manage family life more efficiently.  Give up an hour or two of sleep every day.  Whoa!  For many, there’s no energy left for doing activities, to say no to.  And family needs are absolutely important.  Besides this, some of us need every hour of sleep we can get – and a lot of down time, alone time, rest time between.

 For me, the hardest to bear is the branding (a new fancy word for self-promotion; advertising) which will supposedly focuses our spiritual energies.  Especially when one must start today or the train will leave without you.

“a God-sized dream” (post the story of how you’re working on that, on my blog today).
“God gave you a unique dream that will go unfulfilled unless you do it”  (let me show you how).
“the chance a lifetime” (a book that will absolutely change your life; on sale this week only).
“become exactly who God created you to be” (pay me $500 to be your coach). 
“Bible study helps” (buy a Kindle).
“take a sabbatical from technology” (complete line of online Christian resources).  [No, I’m not kidding; I saw a site advocating this.]

I would dearly love to have a prayer partner.  I wish I had friends I could be myself with.  I’d like the reassurance that my life isn’t in vain just because I haven’t the energy to turn the world upside down.  But when I find someone online who seems compatible with me, they are usually too busy “friending” a lot of impersonal friends, or branding themselves by constant online efforts.  There’s no time for me to interact with them.  Wow, do I always have to BUY Jesus, or my godly friends?

I understand that books and products cost money to produce.  And that people need to earn a living.  I’m happy that some have found a new outlet for their talents.  (I’d like to do that myself, if I were able.)  But thank you very much, I honestly don’t have the money to pay people to help me find more of Jesus, or the strength to produce great works for him if only I’m prodded a little harder, and force myself to get up earlier each day.  And I thought that rather than promote self, we were called by the Lord to die to self and let him live in us!

I tend to root for the underdog.  So what about those who don’t have the money, or maybe the health, or maybe the technical savvy, or maybe the privacy, or they have kids to feed, or, or---  ?

Does the self-promotion, the branding, the frantic activity, intimidate or break the hearts of the poor, the homeless, the uneducated, the mentally or physically challenged, those who work two or three jobs just to survive?  What about people who are persecuted for their faith, or who become victims of violence, or who live in oppressive circumstances?  Are we to say that their God-sized dreams didn’t matter as much as those who got to fulfill their dreams in actuality?  `(Maybe our wonderfully creative and imaginative God, seeing their earthly un-entitlements, will in heaven give them special creative assignments.)
Undoubtedly there are people who have the capacity to accomplish many activities well.  I don’t belittle them at all.  But I’m not one of them, alas.  So each day I have to ask myself -- does Jesus want me to wear a brand other than “seeking first the kingdom of God and his righteousness”?  Which is best?  To create tangible things for his glory?  Or to receive him more fully because I give him my creative thoughts but don’t rush about to “do more” than I’m strong enough to enjoy carrying out?

Said the robin to the sparrow,
“I should really like to know
Why these anxious human beings
Rush around and worry so?”

Said the sparrow to the robin
“Friend, I think that it must be
They have no Heavenly Father
Such as cares for you and me!”

(soap box mode off, now)

This post is shared with
"The Wellspring," Playdates with God


  1. Seek ye first is an awesome brand. Christ first in every endeavor or in just living and loving life, raising God-given children, or in the ministry. What a branding!

  2. I like Pamela's brand :). It has been hard for me, at times, to visit some of these places that epitomize what you discuss here. I, too, am rather simple--I don't stand up to comparison so well. Just today I was feeling that not enough feeling and shed real tears over it. You know what I did? I went straight to the Word. Read the truth about me and Who loves me. You are a beautiful, amazing person who creates in startlingly unique ways. God delights over you and me. Let's celebrate that together, shall we?

  3. I can relate to what you are saying, and I do what Laura does....I go to His Word, and remind myself of the truth..."Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of God." Matt. 5:3 He looks first at our heart, and from there, He will lead us and guide us on what to do, or not do, given our energy levels. God delights in you, and from what I've seen from your blog, you are wonderfully creative. So let us see ourselves as He does, yes?

  4. Oh Marilee, so much to think about here - and I'm tired from the long day with my kids and life and all of that so I just want to send you a virtual hug and say that I root for the underdog, too.

  5. Wow. Wow. Wow. I meandered over here from Brianne's blog, and read this post. I really appreciate your perspective. God looks at us as the unique people we are. There is definitely an inherent incompatibility with how the creative world at large does business. It's such a good reminder that He does not demand NEARLY as much of us as we imagine!

  6. LOVE this. I whole-heartedly agree with every word. I have had some piece spinning in the hamster wheel for several weeks now on this very topic--but I'll write about it when it's the right moment maybe. I'm sorry you couldn't read the font well on my blog--I wrote that in Word and when I went back and pasted more into my blog post, for some reason, I could not get the small font off--I have no clue why this happened. There is a blog-overhaul in the near future. I want a white, fresh background in Wordpress. And I think my older readers *wink* will be able to peruse it better! I really enjoyed reading your blog this evening, including the most recent post. Blessings.


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