The Details That Matter

We’re creatives. Whether it’s songwriting, album art conception and the creative energy and effective tactics that are needed to get a project off the ground, there’s no disputing that we are creatives. It’s what we do.

And because we live in this ephemeral bubble of music and ministry that cross-pollinates with a creative industry, we hear a few different buzzwords everywhere we go. Innovation, originality. Impact. Moving forward. Every few years, they change—maybe we get a few new ones, maybe some go out of style. It’s always different, and yet it’s always the same. The point of these buzzwords is to try and communicate what the end result will be, what the point of being creative is supposed to manifest as. Yet, we don’t need to be told that. We know it.

People are constantly trying to teach creativity. But you can’t. You don’t have to. All you have to do is liberate it.

We’re out in the community often. And as we’re talking with students, pastors, friends, family and everyone in between, we’ve been struck by how often we’re presented with people’s’ passions. The things that they love and the things that drive them. They’ll always tell us about something else in their life to which they bring a huge interest, whether it’s music, hiking, reading, sports—or even their actual ministry and the Lord’s presence.

But because people are often denied a creative outlet in their daily life, their drive and intensity in chasing self-expression is so strong that they always can find the time and energy they need for it. And we’re always wondering, why don’t teachers, ministries, and companies see that—and find a way to tap into it?

It’s only when we stop our own obsession with our main job (school, work, etc) and start paying attention to our life’s daily activities themselves that we can find the greatest satisfaction. It’s about how far any of us is able to savor the process by which we accomplish something. Are we sometimes (perhaps even all the time) too focused on getting work done to extract any value from the experience of doing it? Our creativity is supplemented by our small, daily interactions. The small details of what happened in our day yesterday, last month, last year.

And there’s a whole sleuth of science behind it. In a study published in Psychological Science, a trio of Harvard University researchers—Kevin Madore, Donna Rose Addis, and Daniel Schacter—found an unusual link between memory and creative problem-solving. The study showed that reminiscing about the specific details of an experience, tapping into what is known as episodic memory, helped spark “divergent thinking,” or the ability to come up with many creative solutions for a problem. Way dope, in our opinion.

Basically, getting people to imagine the specific details of a past event can make them more capable of vividly imagining new details for other creative projects or solutions. For real. Go ahead and write that down, cause it’s super hot fire.

And it makes us wonder. If looking back at the details of our own lives can prompt so much creativity, what happens when we look back at the details of the Lord’s triumphs—since his creativity is so much more intense than anything we know?

Exodus 35:30-33 “See, the Lord has called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah; and he has filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, with intelligence, with knowledge, and with allcraftsmanship, to devise artistic designs, to work in gold and silver and bronze, in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, for work in every skilled craft.”

There’s this obvious creativity that’s been awakened in us by the Lord. It drives all the decision we make, the food we eat, the clothes we wear, as we search for ways to express ourselves well and be distinct individuals in this society that we live in. What’s next for us? Diving into the Lord’s work over thousands and thousands of years, we can see the intricate details that the Lord has directed our way.

  • What about the creation story? Genesis 1 shows us the Lord’s attention to detail.
  • Look at Genesis 4, where we see the beginnings of human culture—instruments and music.
  • Check out at Rahab and Jericho in Joshua 2—where the smallest detail, a red flag, led to her family’s safety during a siege.
  • Solomon’s incredible temple was the result of the Lord’s incredibly detailed direction in 1 Chronicles 28.
  • Jonah’s redirection by a whale in Jonah 1? Original indeed.
  • Paul’s conversion on the way to Damascus in Acts 9 wasn’t an everyday happening. And Ananias’ role in his healing was very specific.

The details are what matter. God’s attention to detail is the core of His creativity, and our ability to recall his miracles and the deliberation behind them can propel us to new connections and original thoughts. Look to the Lord’s attention to the little things, and be inspired.

Alex AndersonThe Details That Matter

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