Creativity, innovation, and spiritual inspiration

Today’s contributor explores the idea that creativity and innovation, which support meaningful solutions to problems, are spiritual qualities everyone has the ability to express.

Christian Science Perspective audio edition
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Years ago, as a new advertising copywriter, I thought creativity was something that only special people had – a gift, a unique talent that set them apart and above from everyone else. But then a musician I admired told me, “Creativity doesn’t come from you; it comes through you.”

When I asked him what he meant, he replied that his innovative approach to music really didn’t come from some special, personal talent; he saw it instead as starting with spiritual inspiration, whose source is the one divine creator, God.

That idea was a huge help to me in my early career path through the creative and highly competitive world of advertising. The push to develop fresh, innovative ways of presenting products and services to the public felt relentless and incredibly difficult at times. But gradually, through my study and practice of Christian Science, I began to discover that creativity and innovation are actually spiritual qualities rather than privileged human talents only a select few can express.

Today I’ve come to understand that in music, art, writing, or anything else, true originality and freshness are qualities of divine Soul. Soul is a Bible-based name for God that Mary Baker Eddy, the discoverer of Christian Science, described as “the creative, governing, infinite Principle outside of finite form, which forms only reflect” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 71).

In every aspect of our lives, turning in prayer to this “governing, infinite Principle” can bring fresh, God-derived inspiration and ideas. It can help us find better ways to settle problems at home, run businesses, teach school, prepare new recipes, address the myriad issues facing our communities, and even contribute to addressing the larger problems of the world.

And this capacity to develop new ideas is available to every one of us – without the need to steal or copy the work of others – as we embrace our true nature as God’s spiritual image and likeness, the expression of His intelligence.

In this way we discover the rich potential inherent in each of us. Believing we’re incapable or lack talent or that the source of creativity is a limited brain, we can come up short. However, if we view our creative capacities as truly spiritual, if we accept that creativity has its source in the one infinite God, we can prove this in so many different ways!

At one time I was tasked with presenting complex research data to an international audience. The PowerPoint presentation slides made available to me were unpolished and contained mistakes. It was up to me to make the needed corrections and rework the entire presentation. There were three problems: I had never before used the PowerPoint computer program, it was now late at night, and the presentation was the very next day.

Opening my laptop, I wasn’t sure where to start. But through a lifetime of turning to God for answers, I’d witnessed divine Soul, infinite Principle, inspire original solutions time after time. And so it was clear that I needed to begin this assignment with prayer – to realize that whatever was needed was not hidden or dormant. An arresting thought from Science and Health came to me: “Mortals are egotists. They believe themselves to be independent workers, personal authors, and even privileged originators of something which Deity would not or could not create” (p. 263).

It occurred to me that it wasn’t on me and my brain to personally figure it all out. The creativity and intelligence to perform the needed technical skills were already available; these qualities were there for me to recognize their source in God and employ them. And so I did, even though slowly at first. The next day, I successfully presented the full, updated research report to a receptive audience.

When we come to understand that God is indeed the creative, divine Principle, the original source of innovative thinking, we’ll find more ways to apply fresh, spiritually creative talents – every day.

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Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.