Do the Creative Stretch

What fuels the increase in profits in the following example of the sale of the same weight of iron?

• A plain iron bar
• Horseshoes
• Needles
• Watch springs

What made the core difference in the value of the iron? Creativity. Someone developed new ways to use the same core material. 

Make It Personal

Perhaps moneymaking is not your motivating factor. What benefit would you want to claim as a result of increasing your creativity?

  • Meeting your potential in the use of talents, abilities, and/or gifts?
  • Increasing the enjoyment of your ministry for yourself?
  • Increasing other members’ enjoyment of your ministry?
  • Attracting new members and regaining former members?
  • Increasing self-confidence?
  • Increasing self-motivation?
  • Increasing problem solving?

Take the Path Less Followed

Never say “never.” You generate about 60,000 thoughts a day, and about 95 percent are in the same association paths. Break into new territory:

  • Sing the corny songs that your children like, or the songs that your parents hum.
  • Listen to other styles of music.
  • Read books by new authors.
  • Eat new foods.
  • Walk backward for a section of your daily walk, or try jogging.
  • Compose new words for your favorite song.
  • Write a new ending to a favorite children’s story.

Keep ‘em Coming

Perhaps you’re analytical and rely on group brainstorming sessions to get the creative volunteers churning out ideas. Six tips can help you encourage them to keep putting their ideas “onto the floor”: 

  1. Help them get comfortable with an icebreaker. Ask them to reveal something personal—but non-threatening—e.g., the best church picnic they ever attended, a favorite speaker or musical group, something from a favorite book.
  2. Start with a rhetorical question, or give a quiz. 
  3. Lead participants through four stages: 
    1. Planning backward. Start with the desired result and work backward through tactics. 
    2. Visualizing what is needed. 
    3. Questioning assumptions. 
    4. Assessing obstacles. 
  4. Don’t take a break during a creative explosion just because you had scheduled a break for that time. 
  5. If creativity prematurely grinds to a halt, inject some fun into the meeting—a game, “good” jokes, etc. 
  6. Take responsibility for the ideas generated; give others the credit.  

Close Cracks in Creativity

A Sabbath School member—young or old, regular attendee, or no-show—takes you aside at church or calls you at home to tell you a really bad idea. How do you respond?

  • Do you protect the person’s ego rather than list what’s wrong with the idea?
  • Do you affirm that the person has isolated a problem that needs to be resolved, a challenge to be corrected?
  • Do you encourage self discovery, asking questions until the person sees the flaws in the idea?
  • Do you say, “Let’s brainstorm to find leads to workable solutions”?

And old saying that bears repeating is “Nothing beats a try but a failure.” In other words, keep trying. Success may come with the next attempt. So support other people’s good ideas, be a careful observer of people, challenge the status quo, take risks. That next productive idea may be your brain child.

© 2014 General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists