Managing the Creative Beast (re-post)

After 1 1/2 years in the live music capital of the world (Austin), I thought I would review this post.

Creativity and artistry abounds – no matter where you live. Here are some principles to help us create a creative community plus love, serve, and influence a creative culture.


Hello from Los Angeles!

It seems that everyone in this city aspires towards something – writing, acting, directing, filmmaking, or being on a reality television show. Whether someone grew up here under the shadow of the Hollywood sign or moved to Southern California to pursue their ambitions, people dream about breaking into the entertainment industry. If you don’t believe me, just ask any waiter or barista about their long term plans.

I got sucked in too.

I have written songs, attempted to teach myself to play the guitar, choreographed a dance, directed some short films, performed stand up comedy, and even written a play. I haven’t gotten an agent or head shots (pictures to promote my career), but perhaps I should ask for those for Christmas.

After realizing that every person was created by God with the capacity to be creative but not necessarily artistic, I began to discover the freedom of developing my own strengths which were more relational and organizational.

Recently, I had the opportunity to share some of the insights I have learned in working with those who truly are artistic in our community at Mosaic in Los Angeles. At an event sponsored by the Mosaic Alliance and Origins Project in New York City called Ethos, I shared some of these principles in a session called “Managing the Creative Beast.”

Managing the Creative Beast recognizes the following:

1. As leaders we aren’t supposed to be the most creative people within our organization. We are to be the equippers of others way more talented than we are (Eph. 4:11-13).

2. Managing the creative beast is challenging. It’s easier to manage someone who just wants to be told what to do. When we entrust ministry or opportunity to people wanting to flex their creative muscles, they may start moving in directions we don’t want them to go. At the same time, as leaders we need to help people find the freedom to express themselves while developing the character to avoid selfishness.

3. We should not try to tame the creative beast. If we do, they will leave, or we will stifle their creativity. Too often our structures are more important than the people we have forced into our structures.

4. Although we shouldn’t try to tame the creative beast, we can harness the energy in the right direction. Every beast needs its own jungle. By casting vision, inspiring, mobilize to service, focusing the creativity around servanthood (Mt. 10:39), and learning to say “no, but…” we can help creative people move forward as they move our community into new arenas.

5. At [Mosaic], our volunteer staff process creates the opportunities for spiritual mentoring and character development essential to avoiding the “talent trap.” Too often, as leaders we slip into valuing talent over character. In the end this hurts our community and the person we have recruited prematurely.

6. I have discovered my creative contribution is serving and managing the creative beast.

What is your creative contribution in your community? How have you been able to unleash your own creativity or the creativity of those around you?

Watch this video:

Ironically, this video was supposed to be shown at Ethos, but one of the guys on the video team forgot to bring it with us to New York City. This reminds me of another principle in unleashing creativity – learn to be forgiving and gracious because you will be disappointed with others just as you and I disappoint others as well

Showing 4 comments
  • Michael Cordich

    You certainly have provided some good thoughts that I will ponder, but your first point leaves me a bit puzzled. I looked up the passage in Ephesians and there is nothing about equipping people more talented than we are, in fact there was nothing there about peoples talents at all. Verse 14 makes it clear that the equipping of the saints is about being sound in their doctrine not about managing their talents. Maybe you can shed more light on this for me.

  • ericbryant

    Thanks for your comment, Michael!

    Ephesians 4 has nothing to do with talent level. The parable of the talents does. 🙂 Ephesians 4 mentions the importance of equipping others. I added the importance of not limiting your influence to those who are less talented.

    If you can only team with people less talented than you are, then there is a really small pool of people to team with. If you can work with people more talented then you have a really large pool with whom you can team.

  • Michael Cordich

    Eric, I would agree that any good business leader should surround himself or herself with good talent, even those who are more talented then the leader, but the church is not about talent or the talented, it is about service and servants. My concern however is more about your use of Ephesians 4 in a way that is not the point of the text and therefore people will assume the Bible teaches something that it does not. The pastor-teacher of a church is charged to equip all saints regardless of their talents because the equipping of the saints in Ephesians 4 is not about using skills or talents, but it is about understanding right doctrine to bring the saints into maturity in Christ which becomes the foundation for their service to their neighbors. If you connect a Bible verse to a point you are making, the verse in question should clearly teach the point you are making; otherwise your just reading into the text and we both know that doing so always leads people the wrong way.

  • Margaret

    This certainly touches on one of the many challenges of leadership–Great insight

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