Praising the Virtues of Creativity
- Nov. 28, 2011
- Jim Mathis
One of the major differences between humans and other creatures is our creativity. The Bible says God made us in His own image; from the beginning He intended for us to be creative, as He is.
Recently I was talking with an artist friend – a painter – about art created by an individual versus art created by a team. As a painter, my friend primarily works alone, as do I in my work as a photographer. When other people are involved in a project, they are usually photographic subjects. They are very much part of the process, but the creativity is primarily using my eyes, head and heart to create photographs. The camera is a tool, just as a paintbrush or a sculpture's chisel are tools, for creating the artwork.
I view my other profession – as a musician – primarily as a “team sport.” Some musicians like to work alone as composers or solo performers, but for me, music is best done by a team. The team can be small like a duo – John Lennon and Paul McCartney, for example – or can be large like a symphony orchestra.
The same principle applies in the business world. A CEO or company executive at times must work alone, making decisions that he or she alone can make. Sales executives often travel alone to meet with prospective clients, hoping to persuade them to purchase products or services they represent. At such times, they utilize personal creativity to determine what they think can best achieve their objectives.
Much of the time, however, a team approach in business is best. For instance, in formulating strategies for the future, developing specific plans for a new initiative, or evaluating overall performance for a department or the company overall, drawing from different perspectives often leads to better results.
Whatever the size of the team, the “magic” happens when you realize that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. In other words, you achieve something together that you could not have accomplished by yourself. We often see this same reality in the world of sports. When members of a team play well together, the results can be much greater than what you would expect from each one individually.
The musical group of which I am a member, Sky Blue, was formed years ago because we wanted to make art in the form of music. When we perform, our audience will see four artists listening to each other, responding to what the others are singing and playing, and adding to the musical conversation in a way that is, hopefully, pleasing to the ear. We are not a jazz band, but that is basically what jazz music is.
Most of the time, we come away with big smiles on our faces because we have produced something that was never heard before – and probably won't be heard again in exactly that same way.
The Bible often speaks to the value of teamwork. In the Old Testament, Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 it points out, “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work. If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!... Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”
Proverbs 27:17 also states, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” We each have unique talents and abilities, but to perform at our best, we need each other.
Jim Mathis is the owner of a photography studio in Overland Park, Kansas, specializing in executive, commercial and theatrical portraits, and operates a school of photography. Jim is the author of High Performance Cameras for Ordinary People, a book on digital photography. He formerly was a coffee shop manager and executive director of CBMC in Kansas City, Kansas and Kansas City, Missouri.
1. How would you say that creativity is involved in the work that you do? Give some examples.
2. From your experience, what tasks can you accomplish most effectively on your own, and which are usually most successful when you are working as part of a team, whether that involves just one other person or a group of people?
3. Have you been in situations where, in looking back at what had been achieved, you realized – as Jim Mathis stated – “the whole is greater than the sum of the parts”? Explain your answer.
4. In your opinion, whether it be in a business environment, sporting activities, community projects, or artistic pursuits such as music, what are the greatest benefits of teamwork, in terms of creativity?
If you would like to look at or discuss other portions of the Bible that relate to this topic, consider the following brief sampling of passages:
Exodus 4:10-17, Numbers 13:1-31; Matthew 10:1-16; Mark 6:7; 1 Corinthians 1:1;
2 Corinthians 1:1; 2 Thessalonians 1:1