Re-Thinking One of the Myths of Creativity

Publishing information updated August 2020

I’m excited that Spark: Igniting Your God-Given Creativity is now available for order! Nurture your spirit with this dynamic, 12-session women’s Bible study for personal or group use.

Here’s an excerpt:

One of the myths about creativity is that it’s only about radically new ideas. But according to British psychologist Michael Kirton, creativity is both “innovative” and “adaptive,” both “out of the box” and working within it.

When Spencer Silver first created a glue that allowed paper to be attached and then easily peeled off, it was so innovative that no one could see a use for it. But when Art Fry needed something to mark the page of his hymnal for choir practice, he thought of using the glue for a temporary bookmark—it was an example of adaptive creativity, and with it, the Post-It note was born, the child of both innovative and adaptive creativity.

So yes, creativity might mean coming up with an entirely new kind of glue, and it also means adapting it for a specific context. Creativity might mean developing your own exercise routine, or it might mean taking a different route to your regular gym class.  Creativity might mean coming up with an entirely new recipe, and creativity means adapting an existing recipe to make it your own.

In Genesis God creates both ways! Innovation occurred as God created something entirely new: where there was chaos, God created a new order; where there was nothing, God created an entire universe. At the same time, God’s creativity was adaptive: the earth brought forth plants, and the plants brought forth fruit and seed; the living creatures reproduced and multiplied.

God is the creator of everything, so all human creativity is really “adaptive.” But within that, there seem to be varying degrees of innovation and adaptive creativity. Consider your own experience. Do you tend toward innovation—i.e., coming up with new ideas not necessarily related to anyone or anything else–or toward adaptive creativity—i.e., adapting ideas to a particular context? Give thanks for both expressions of creativity.

Spark: Igniting Your God-Given Creativity was commissioned
by Mennonite Women USA and Mennonite Women Canada.
Spark is now sold out, but may be borrowed from
CommonWord Bookstore and Resource Centre

6 thoughts on “Re-Thinking One of the Myths of Creativity

  1. So… if I have a couple of creatively minded females in my life (namely my wife and my two daughters), how would one go about getting a copy to, perhaps, have his creatively minded females read and review?

    1. Great – I’d love to hear what you think! And by the way, I liked your post on lessons you’ve been learning. The bullet journal is new to me–I’ve already been using a few of the same ideas in a regular date book for my pastoral ministry, but the bullet journal might be helpful for my creative/writing/blogging work.

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