5 Ways that Leaders can Learn Creativity

Can Creativity Be Taught?

Ice Cream ConesThe summer of 1904, Charles Menches, a St. Louise ice-cream vendor ran out of saucers to serve his sweet. Did he rush to buy more saucers? Close up shop for the day? Post a sign: “B.Y.O.S.?”

No. He jumped “out of the box.” He wrapped his confection in fresh-baked, waffle-iron pastries from the vendor next door and delighted customers with a new cuisine. Hence, the invention of ice-cream cones.

Out-of-the-box, convention-defying ideas repeatedly capture the market (i.e., the McDonald brothers dared reduce their menu to one entree… And remember the quartz watch paradigm shift?)

We excel in teaching proven techniques, but can out-of-the-box creativity be taught? Or is it limited to those born with a knack for creativity?

August Turak tackled this question in his Forbes website article: Can Creativity Be Taught?* Turak’s mentor, Louis Mobley, transformed IBM’s Executive School by training leaders to think creatively, challenging them to ask radical questions that propelled IBM into electronic leadership.

What does this have to do with Christ-Centered Leaders? We claim Christ as the ultimate Creator. We claim He lives within us. Can we learn creativity from the Creator and teach that to others?

Yes!  Jesus remains THE model for creative, radical leadership training. He trained twelve men who changed the world with out-of-the-box ideas and genius strategies.

Compare Mobley’s IBM leadership training model to Christ’s:

  1. Teach through experience rather than lecture only…  Jesus didn’t simply tell his disciples to trust Him, He sent them into the storm so they could experience trust.
  2. Creativity has more to do with unlearning than learning…  Much of Jesus’ training dealt with “new wine” mentality, unlearning the old religious order: “Who is your neighbor?…” What! It can’t be the Samaritan! 
  3. It’s not about learning to be creative–it’s about becoming creative… In Christian terms, learning to create like the Creator means laying down our old natures to become one with Him—the Creator Himself—to eat His flesh and drink His blood—so we conform to His nature. For supernatural creativity to flow through us, we spend time in listening prayer with humble hearts, eating His words, and obedience that empowers us to be transformed into His likeness.
  4. Become creative by spending time with creative people… Here’s a shocking truth. None of us knows everything. And God designed us so we need other people. Spending time with other believers who know the Creator and follow Him, we learn from each other.
  5. Overcome bias…  Remember the Pharisees? Preconceived biases or staunch opinions quickly extinguish the flow of creativity.

For a thorough outline of how to teach in a way that fosters creativity and real-life learning, see Interactive Teaching/Learning Challenge on our website.

Mark 6:46-51; Matthew 9:14-17; Matthew 5:3; John 6:48-58; John 1:3, 10-14, 29; Matthew 11:29-30; John 4; Luke 23:34; Acts 2:36

*May 22, 2011. Please note, August Turak, places his insights concerning creativity into the context of Zen philosophy. At Christ Centered Leaders we uphold Christ supremacy in all things, who is Truth and the giver of all truth (Colossians 1:18; John 14:6).

PBL Front CoverDiscover how to posture yourself in the creativity that flows from Christ’s presence, in Keith’s new book: Mastering the Art of Presence-Based Leadership. 

– Patricia Tillman

In other words, God is eternal and we are not! ScripPIc…

Everything beautiful

The high and lofty one who inhabits eternity,
the Holy One, says this:
“I live in that high and holy place
with those whose spirits are contrite and humble.
I refresh the humble
and give new courage to those with repentant hearts.
Isaiah 57:15, NLT

Photo copyright Tammy Teague, 2011; ScripPic Patricia Tillman. You have permission to copy this Scrip Pic for personal, non-commercial use.

“…Until I Entered the Sanctuary of God…”

dreamstime_mountainxs_46687878“…then I Saw the Whole Picture”*

Three thousand years ago, King David’s worship leader, Asaph, confided (in so many words):

I know in my head God is good, but I nearly missed it with my attitude.

“I was looking at the people,” he wrote, “envying the wicked who are pretentious with arrogance . . . pampered and overfed . . . bullying their way with words . . . full of hot air . . . people actually listen to them–can you believe it?”  (Psalm 73:1-10, Message).

Though we can certainly find applications for Asaph’s irritation in our modern world, it’s not as much about circumstance as attitude:

What’s going on here?  Is God out to lunch? (verse 11).

Then in Psalm 78, Asaph exposes his ancestors’ attitude:

They forgot what he had done. . .  awesome marvels . . . right before their eyes . . . split the sea . . .  bread from heaven . .  . cloud by day and fire by night . . . river flows from solid rock . . . birds rain down . . . they whine like children BUT GOD HELPED THEM ANYWAY!

Their response?

Where’s the beef? (in so many words).

Before we point fingers at anyone, we do understand there really are difficult situations out there. All over the world people suffer through rough times. But again, it’s not about specific situations, or pretending pain doesn’t exist, or blinding ourselves to heart-wrenching needs.

It’s about attitude—the attitude that Asaph almost missed; the attitude that goes beyond a perspective that rises no higher than our circumstances or appetites.

When I tried to figure it out, all I got was a splitting headache… (vs. 17)

Asaph tells us where to go for an attitude check:

. . . Until I entered the sanctuary of God, then I saw the whole picture.

dreamstime_eagle xs_44445516Spending time in His sanctuary–with our Lord who loves our fellowship, in prayer, worship, meditation in His word–persistantly—in our Father’s home where we can visit with His Son; in His presence where He fulfills joy; on His turf where eternal glory and power reign. As we wait on Yahweh we begin to see from His perspective—from heights where eagles soar. In this place we actualize trust, we discover and adopt His attitude. We taste the peace that passes all understanding and know that God is wholly good.

*Psalm 73:17 (The Message).

Psalm 16:11;  73;  78; Isaiah 26:3; 40:31; Luke 2:49; John 14:1; Philippians 4:7.

PBL Front CoverLearn insightful, practical aspects and understanding of leading from the place of God’s sanctuary. Mastering the Art of Presence-Based Leadership, gives you a wealth of truths that empower you and your leadership team to discern the wisdom of Christ as real-time partners with Him.

– Patricia Tillman


What’s Done is Gone; the Now is New… ScripPic

Now we look inside,
and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start,
is created new.
The old life is gone;
A new life burgeons!
Look at it!
II Corinthians 5:17 (The Message)

I make all things newEverything was created through Him;
nothing—not one thing!—came into being without Him.
What came into existence was Life,
and the Life was Light to live by.
The Life-Light blazed out of the darkness;
the darkness couldn’t put it out …
John 1:3-5
 (The Message)

Photo copyright 2014 Tammy Teague. ScripPic by Patricia Tillman. You may copy for personal, non-commercial use only.

The Most Difficult Part of Godly Leadership….

Remaining Strategically Aligned with Christ’s Purpose for Your Group…

Fully Aligned with GodWE’VE GOT TO DO SOMETHING! We can’t just stand still. Let’s move out! Put feet to our faith! God will meet us with a miracle.

…Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord… (Exodus 13:14)

But that other group was successful.  Shouldn’t we do what they did? There’s so many strategies from so many seminars and so many books.  Surely we can make SOMETHING work.

…the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner . . . (John 5:19)

Is it worth it to wait on the Father’s direction? What if He doesn’t answer? Maybe we should just throw in the towel.

…My Father has been working until now, and I have been working. (John 5:17)

THEN WHAT SHOULD WE DO?!?!?!? Work or wait?

…let him follow me; and where I am, there my servant will be also. (John 12:26)

Follow Jesus? Where is He going?

We discern what Jesus is already doing in the situation, and whether work or wait, we steadfastly align ourselves with His strategy as partners with Him.

We find the place where Jesus is, and there we find the answer—His wisdom, His purpose, His will for our work, relationships and ministry.

Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him.  Do not fret . . . because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass . . . Do not fret–it only causes harm . . . But those who wait upon the Lord, they shall inherit the earth . . . and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace. (Psalm 37:7-11)

 “Stand still;” — keep the posture of an upright man, ready for action, expecting further orders, cheerfully and patiently awaiting the directing voice; and it will not be long ere God shall say to you, as distinctly as Moses said it to the people of Israel, “Go forward.” –  Charles H. Spurgeon

Not my will in PRAYER, but His.

Not from my limited PERSPECTIVE, but His eternal one.

Not where I desire POSITIONING, but where He desires.

Not my PRIORITIES, but His.

Not my own strategy in PARTNERSHIPS, but His.

Not my own aimless, busy PREPARATION, but His strategic strategy.

Not PRAISE to my own achievements, but praise to Him for achieving His purpose in me.

Not trusting in my own temporary PROVISION, but in His eternal one.

Not striving for busy PRODUCTIVITY, but resting in His life-giving productivity.

Not my own standards for PURITY, but purity that comes from His character intermeshed with mine through spending time with Him and His Word.

All scripture quotations taken from the New King James Version of the Bible. 

Exodus 33:15; John 10:3;  John 10:1-6

PBL Front CoverMastering the Art of Presence-Based Leadership gives you a wealth of insight for developing this kind of life and leadership. Practical truth and understanding that empowers you to discern the wisdom of Christ as real-time partners with Him.

– Patricia Tillman