Today’s leaders simply can’t succeed without putting creativity in their toolbox.
If you don’t think you’re creative, that may sound discouraging. But take heart: creativity can be taught and practiced, and Create v. Copy shows you how.
This short, punchy book explores various aspects of creativity and imagination and leads you toward a healthy, confident, more innovative life mindset. It celebrates the good news of your God-given capacity to create and helps you harness it to take charge of your life, navigate changing times, and ultimately, flourish and succeed.
Having traveled to dozens of countries, founded the leading international conference on justice and theology, and collaborated with scores of nonprofits, Wytsma is uniquely fit to help us be culture-shapers in a world of global change. He blends theology, history, and cultural observation to show us what being God’s creative image-bearers might look like today.
Whether you're a parent, CEO, pastor, or politician, this fresh look at contemporary leadership will challenge the way you view your position of influence, and it will equip you to adapt and thrive in our perplexing yet exciting cultural climate.
Winner of the ECPA's Top Shelf Cover Award 2016
|Product dimensions:||5.00(w) x 7.10(h) x 0.70(d)|
About the Author
KEN WYTSMA is a leader, innovator, and social entrepreneur respected for his insight and collaborative spirit. He is the president of Kilns College, where he teaches courses in philosophy and justice. He is the founder of The Justice Conference—an annual international conference that introduces men and women to a wide range of organizations and conversations relating to biblical justice and God's call to give our lives away.Ken is a consultant and creative advisor to nonprofits and a sought-after speaker on justice, church, and culture. A church planter and lead pastor at Antioch Church, Ken lives in Bend, Oregon, with his wife, Tamara, and their four daughters.
Read an Excerpt
Create vs. Copy
Embrace Change, Ignite Creativity, Break Through with Imagination
By Ken Wytsma, Matthew Boffey
Moody PublishersCopyright © 2016 Ken Wytsma
All rights reserved.
To Create Is Divine
Fantasy remains a human right: we make in our measure and in our derivative mode, because we are made: and not only made, but made in the image and likeness of a Maker.J. R. R.Tolkien, "On Fairy Stories"
How would you depict God in a work of art?
That's the provocative question I found myself asking on a recent trip to Rome. Standing with my daughter underneath Michelangelo's world-famous work in the Sistine Chapel, we couldn't help but be taken in by the most recognized image in the entire building: The Creation of Adam. Situated near the center of the ceiling, the fresco shows God reaching His finger toward Adam to create humanity.
In the painting — probably the most iconic depiction of God in the world — God is a powerfully built, elderly European man with sinewy arms, long gray hair, and a beard. Adam is naked, reclining, and seems to be only halfheartedly reaching back to God. Michelangelo had wrapped his Greek ideas about physical beauty, symmetry, and the body into his portrayal of the image of God, as well as his ideas about humanity's relationship to God.
Was he right?
Created to Create
There's an element of the image of God we almost never talk about. It's strange we leave it out, because it's the very first thing we learn about God. In grad school theology courses I explored God's attributes, what He is like — He is rational, holy, relational, and so on. But almost never did my studies hit this fundamental property of God: He is creative.
Genesis 1:27 says, "So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them."
Looking solely at the words in this sentence, what is the one thing we read about the nature of God?
Simple. God creates.
The only thing we can know with grammatical certainty about the image of God from this verse, then, is that it necessarily involves creativity.
God is immensely creative. We all know that too many colors in a painting or living room can be dissonant, but when I walk in the mountains, forests, and deserts of Central Oregon, where I live, I am astounded at how God is able to bring hundreds of colors into beautiful, consonant harmony. From the alpine lakes to the patches of colored wildflowers in spring, nothing in the landscape ever seems to clash or fail in the beauty of God's nature. Have you ever marveled at how God has made thousands of colors sing together without clashing? It's hard for us to add three or four colors to an outfit before it starts to clash, let alone the myriad hues we see in mountain meadows.
The same impression hits me when I look to the sky. Incredible sunsets are delightful, and their timing always seems perfect. They are alive in the moment and deeply inspiring. It shows the touch of the Master Artist, who paints in real time.
The late Francis Schaeffer saw this property of God in a rather obscure place. In his book Art and the Bible he talks about the specifications that God gave for priestly garments: Make pomegranates of blue, purple and scarlet yarn around the hem of the robe" (Exod. 28:33). Schaeffer used this verse to make the argument that God, who could have told them to make the pomegranates red (the color of dye their skins were used for in the ancient world), ordered that they be a blend of yarn that would give a lifelike and representative feel. Put another way, it was a form of impressionistic art. God doesn't color like a child. His creativity manifests beautifully in everything He does.
When we study creativity or act creatively, we learn about God.
As those made in God's image, we bear the hints of His creativity within us. Put another way, we will never exemplify God's image in us to the fullest without exercising creativity. I like to say that when we're being creative, it's as if we're taking the image of God in us out for a walk. Creativity is one way we manifest and exercise the image of God.
When we hold a child in our arms, pursue justice for our oppressed neighbor, or cry out in prayer and worship, we know that we are relating to our Creator in a profound way. Similarly, creativity can connect us with our Creator, opening the future in surprising ways.
But more than just having the capacity to be creative, we also have a responsibility to be creative. One of the first things God asked Adam to do — shortly before the creation of Eve — was to tend and care for a garden (Genesis 2:15). Later, God asked Adam to name the animals (2:19–20). God was certainly capable of both tasks, but He seems to be encouraging and nurturing human creativity even in the midst of creating the foundations of the world.
When people say, "I don't have a creative bone in my body," not only is it untrue, it's denying the image of God in us. While artistic ability is a talent a select few possess (and/or cultivate with time and hard work), creative capacity is something all of us are born with. Put another way, artists are skilled with unique talents, but creativity is part of what makes us human. Madeleine L'Engle, the famed author of A Wrinkle in Time and many other novels, says it well:
But unless we are creators we are not fully alive. What do I mean by creators? Not only artists, whose acts of creation are the obvious ones of working with paint or clay or words. Creativity is a way of living life, no matter our vocation or how we earn our living. Creativity is not limited to the arts, or having some kind of important career.
So while were not all Michelangelo, we're all creators nonetheless. Fulfilling our mandate to create can take many different forms.
Let me illustrate with a story from the church where I pastor, Antioch. As a church we've always celebrated creativity — its integral role in our souls as beings made in God's image, the ability for everyone to share in the creative process, etc. — and we wanted to help the community celebrate it, too. So we invited people to showcase their creativity on Art Sunday. From cooking to floral arrangements to photography to poetry to woodworking, we were blown away — not only by how much amazing art came forward, but how creative everyone seemed to be. Teachers, mortgage brokers, bankers, computer technicians — the list goes on — all contributed something to Art Sunday.
It changed my conception of art. The amazingly wide base of creativity displayed that day broadened my narrow conception of what it means to be creative.
Art is to creativity as science is to knowledge. We might not all be scientists, but we all live within the realm of rationality and knowledge. Likewise, we might not all be artists, but we all live in a creatively charged world. I might not paint with a brush, but I make plans on the weekend, make my own variation on recipes, and name my own pets. I may not sell my creations, but I do live them.
Too often we tell ourselves that only artists are creative, but creativity is a gift we have all been given. Everyone made in the image of God participates in this reality. Despite the wide belief that some people have more creative genes than others, psychologist Robert Epstein, PhD, a visiting scholar at the University of California, states, "There's not really any evidence one person is inherently more creative than another (emphasis mine). Artistic ability is a talent some possess, but creativity is a human trait.
Think about what you create:
Football plays in a pickup game
Ways to encourage others
Ways to show love
Ways to organize
And ways of doing thousands of other things.
Much of what you do in life, you create. You probably don't need convincing of that. But here's what I want to suggest: Though we often use creativity, we only partially understand it, and we rarely intentionalize it.
What do I mean by intentionalize'i I mean making the effort to take our creativity for a walk — and on uncharted routes. God expects us to be creative, just as He expects us to be loving and patient, and so on.
If we don't intentionally use and develop our creativity, there will be certain problems we can never solve. Certain projects we can never undertake. Certain relationships we will never enjoy. Creativity opens up new horizons in our relationship with God, with our families and communities, and even with the world.
Creativity is a game changer.
Creators vs. Copiers
Some proudly use the word "copy" as a kind of bravado of honesty and transparency. In this vein, Picasso is attributed with saying, "Good artists copy, great artists steal," and Einstein with, "The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources." Or as Voltaire more mildly put it, Originality is nothing but judicious imitation. The most original writers borrowed one from another."
I think we all understand and can appreciate this sense of the word copy. After all, only God creates completely from scratch. The adage for us is this: If it works, borrow it. If it doesn't, ignore it.
It's an honest admission that we all have been shaped by a thousand hands, and much of our creative energy takes inspiration from what we have seen, experienced, and appreciated. I recently heard Cornel West say it like this: "Nobody steps into the Hall of Fame alone."
The sense of copy I'm using is neither the playful one nor the authentic one just described.
Rather, I'm talking about "copying" as a mindset that refuses to consider new ideas and new relationships. This kind of copying is a habit of never thinking outside the box, never adapting to rapid change, never being willing to fail. This kind of copying simply takes what is known and safe and repeats it ad infinitum.
Creators, on the other hand, do borrow much ... but for the purpose of making things new. The Renaissance artists of Florence borrowed from Greek myths, humanism, and Roman architecture, but always with the mindset of transforming — not merely copying — what had come before.
That's God's call to us as well: don't just be copiers, but creators. We've all been given things from which to borrow: family histories, jobs, talents and skills, interests and hobbies — even our race and gender, the country we live in, our language, schooling, and stage of life. Out of this raw material God invites us to create, to move forward into the fullest expression of God's creative image in us. We are being asked to reject copying in order to create, extend, and breathe life into what is meant to flourish.
So we find things that work. We study our heroes and learn about best practices. But we maintain a mindset of creativity and always look to transform rather than merely replicate.
We Breathe Life
Creativity is about responding to God's image and call — and through that response, exerting a creative influence and leadership the world is desperate to follow.
Genesis 1:2 says, "Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep. God chose to create within that environment, so we shouldn't be surprised when we find ourselves in the midst of formless, void things. And we shouldn't be unsure about what we need to do.
Have you ever counseled a friend? Taught a child to search for animals in the clouds above? Cultivated a garden? Named a dog?
All of those things are creative acts, reflecting the creative image of our Creator.
We breathe life into our families when we come up with creative ways of making memories. We breathe life into our industry when we come up with a different way of doing business. We breathe life into our churches when we discover new ways of expressing our two-thousand-year-old beliefs and doctrines.
Creativity is meant to be life-giving, because it is part of God's image in us.
For further study at KenWytsma.com
1. A List of Quotes on Art, Beauty, and Creativity
2. 4 Books Everyone Should Read on Creativity and Why
3. Interview with Charles Lee on Good Idea. Now What?
Questions for Group, Team, or Individual Reflection
1. Have you been affirmed in your creativity, or have you been stifled? How?
2. If you were to participate in an Art Sunday, what could you contribute? Think beyond just your first idea or two.
3. What are the raw materials in your life that you have to work with?
Excerpted from Create vs. Copy by Ken Wytsma, Matthew Boffey. Copyright © 2016 Ken Wytsma. Excerpted by permission of Moody Publishers.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
PART ONE Thinking about Creativity, 20,
1 To Create Is Divine, 23,
2 Continuous Creativity, 37,
3 Redemptive Creativity, 55,
4 Expanding Horizons, 77,
PART TWO Practicing Creativity, 100,
5 Recapturing Our Imagination, 103,
6 Imagination and Innovation, 119,
7 Intentional Creativity, 135,
8 Generous Creativity, 153,
CONCLUSION A New Song, 171,
ABOUT THE AUTHOR, 187,
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
When asked to read Create vs Copy I had no idea who Ken Wytsma was. I have always considered myself the least creative person on the planet. Within a few pages Ken had completely flipped my idea of "creative" on its head and then he took me on a journey to understand just how important creativity is in the grand scheme of things. "Too often we tell ourselves that only artists are creative, but creativity is a gift we have all been given. Everyone made in the image of God participates in this reality-Ken" My daughter is an art teacher and my thought was that I would give this book to give her encouragement. But as page after page turned I found myself excited about MY gift of creativity. This book will reach into places in your heart you didn't know you were missing out on. It will excite and prepare you to use your creative gift to help improve the world we live in. This book teaches you how to go even beyond "thinking outside the box". Moms, dads, teachers, pastors, kids (the list is endless) will be able to take the practical information and resources available in the book as they go out and make a difference in their corner of the world.
How can we move ahead when life and systems become stagnant, or worse, headed towards death? Ken Wytsma writes a powerful treatise for exploring creativity as it reflects the image of God in our lives, and seeing the thread of God's redemption work through innovation & imagination. This book resonates with my heart for seeing hope beyond the circumstances of today, especially as God used creativity through writing as one of the most powerful means to bring me healing from anxiety, signs of PTSD and depression. Key takeaways: You are creative in your own ways because you were made in the image of a creative God. Innovation & imagination spark change and lead us towards new paths where growth happens. Some of my favorite quotes include: "Intentional creativity means harnessing the image of God in us, bringing hope & newness of life & space to flourish." "We may not be able to fix the world, but we can change it." "In the face of narrowing horizons, we can look instead into expanding horizons." "The future requires intentional creativity as we make space for life & seek the reconciliation of all things." "You need chaos in your soul to give birth to a dancing star." "The best innovation often builds on successful patterns and practices from the past." "When we fix something, we are helping to turn death to life. Bringing order out of chaos." There are so many more great quotes & many thoughts I could share, but I'll tell you this. For any of us who think we don't need others to accomplish great things, and for anyone who believes they have nothing left to give, this book is for you.
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by Moody Publishers. All thoughts and opinions are my own.] I have a sort of love-hate relationship with this author's work , and this book is no different. On the one hand, I really love what the author chooses to write about. I know that he and I have an interest in similar topics ranging from justice to practical Christian living to the paradoxical nature of God's workings to the theological significance of creativity. Yet although I love the topics that the author writes about, he has an infuriatingly superficial and ephemeral approach to so much of what he writes about, and this book is no different there either. If I were an adherent to the social gospel like the author was, and if I had the same sort of love for pop culture reference and an avoidance of what was lasting and eternal about human nature in exchange for that which was shiny and new and temporary, I would like this book a lot more. It appears as if the author wants to write about significant things, but he does not have an understanding about what remains true regardless of cultural trends and so he does not write in such a way that will help him and his works to last, which is probably why he thinks himself an expert on Christianity despite living in one of the most unchurched areas of the United States. This book of a bit under 200 pages is divided into two parts. After a short introduction the author encourages the reader to think about creativity (I). He notes, correctly, that to create is divine (1), that creativity should be a continuous aspect of our lives (2), that creation should be redemptive in helping to bring God's blessing to others (3), and that we should expand our horizons (4). Then the author gets into full social gospel mode in talking about how to practice creativity (II). Here the author encourages the reader to recapture one's imagination (5), compares and contrasts imagination and innovation (6), looks at how creativity can become intentional instead of rare and accidental (7), and how it can be generous (8). After this the author writes about a new song in the conclusion and provides acknowledgements and notes. Towards the end of the book, I felt a bit personally aggrieved because of the author's harsh comments on critics, which seemed a bit unjust since it is my purpose in reading the book to be a critic of it, more signs of the author's general tone deafness as a writer. I hope that it is clearly understood that I believe the author has written about an important subject here. As God is a creator, so too we are a greater in imitatio Dei, subcreators in the manner that Tolkien defended the legitimacy of his own creations. Yet while this world could use more books that help defend the legitimacy of creativity among Christians, it is highly doubtful that the author is the best person to write such books. After all, the author has a malign political agenda that seeps through in all of his works, and has an unquenchable tendency to talk himself up as some kind of expert when he fails at the most basic aspects of presenting eternal biblical truth rather than pop culture fads in this and his other volumes. For the author to write truly worthwhile books, it would be necessary for him to talk less about himself and be a much more knowledgeable exegete of the Bible. As it is, there are some things to appreciate about this book, but to wish that one was reading a book by a better autho
In his book, Create vs. Copy, Ken Wytsma explores what it means to be creative and innovative in an age where the internet and social media has enabled a “copy paste” society. Early on in the book Wytsma states, “the truth is, whether a CEO, nonprofit worker, or parent, how we respond to the challenges of modern culture will define our success, our happiness, and our legacy.” This is such a powerful statement, because some of the best innovations of this generation and those prior have been the responses to challenges in modern society. Examples that comes to mind are platforms like Kickstarter, GoFundMe, and Snapchat. Each of these three are meant for a different purpose (small business start-up, crowdfunding for emergencies/otherwise, and a 24 hour social media share app). All three though, despite their differences, have the underlying goal to promote community, and in large part, creativity. Overall, the format and size of this book is very engaging. It has illustrations and bolded quotes throughout, which keeps a reader engaged and entertained. Imagination and innovation are reinforced as the core of what makes up creativity, and thus they are skills that must be practiced and used often. There is a religious element of faith and God intertwined throughout the book, but not so much so a non-religious reader would feel uncomfortable. The book concludes with the idea that creativity is something possible in each person, it just takes the right about of self-awareness and application to manifest it. #createvscopy Score Card: Cover Art: 5/5 | Content: 4.5/5 | Ease of Read: 5/5 tldr; Great motivational book about fostering creativity in an age proliferated by social media and a copy/paste mentality. *I was provided a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion about what I thought after reading it*
The book is separated into two parts, Thinking about Creativity, and Practicing Creativity, each part contains four chapters. In the introduction Ken writes, “I am interested in the effectiveness and efficiency that comes from modern leadership and sound business principles. But I am passionate about the success that comes from submitting these ideas to God’s direction, refining them with a theology of creativity, and infusing them with imagination. That’s what this book is about.” (p. 17) I would like to affirm that Ken was not critical of previous generations, but he encourages readers to integrate creativity, innovation, and imagination, in every aspect of life. The most unique thing about this book, Ken has provided additional information related to the book on his website. The information is organized according to chapter, for easy access. The conclusion of each chapter includes questions designed for group, team, or individual reflection. Ken has proven to demonstrate creative principle, and he has surrounded himself with creative others. He explains his own experiences in the book, and he also shares case studies of those whom he has interviewed, to help readers fully grasp the necessity of creativity as a theology.
I’m a lucky guy because I have a good pair of eyes and can read about two books a month. Out of the twenty-plus books I’ve read recently, Ken Wytsma’s Create vs. Copy stands above and beyond the rest. It’s a brilliant, inspiring manifesto on how maximizing the power of creativity can literally change the world and your own life. I’m particularly excited about this book because it’s shown me the path for how I hope to invest my remaining time on earth. Important stuff indeed. Everyone needs to seek out books (and people) that are able to provide guidance on the big questions in life. I read somewhere that a very effective practice is to ask “why” at least three different times when making an important decision. For example, if my son someday tells me, “Papa, I’d like to get a job that makes a lot of money.” I would ask him, “Why do you want a lot of money?” If he explains this is because he’d like a fast car, I’d ask a second “why do you want a fast car?” and perhaps he’d answer that it would make him happy, and then I’d proceed with asking the third why about happiness. I say all this to explain that Wytsma’s Create vs. Copy asks and answers the “why” on living a creative life that goes multiple levels deep. Many books explain the practical power that is unleashed by thinking in a creative way. Create vs. Copy does this very effectively as well. However, my favorite part about this book is that it pursues the basis for creativity by asking the “ultimate” why. It then looks for answers in the nature of the universe itself – in the nature of the Creator of all things. Because we are made in the image of God, who is a creator, we too can and should be creators. We’ve been given the freedom to create and if we fail to do so, we are missing out on much of the joy that should accompany life. Wytsma quotes Madeleine L’Engle in the first chapter, who sums up the importance of this book: “But unless we are creators we are not fully alive.” Let’s live life to the full and be a part of building something beautiful with the time we’ve been given.
Create vs. Copy reads like a breath of fresh air. It helped me realize that, too often in life, I act as a “copier.” Whether at work or home, it’s so easy just to go through the motions. But this book reminded me of the freedom we all have to create — a freedom that stems directly from the true Creator.
Ken Wytsma turned my perception of creativity on its head when I read his book Create vs. Copy. Creativity is not reserved exclusively for the artistic elite amongst us, according to Ken. Rather, all humans were made to be creative, innovative, problem-solving human beings. It’s not that some people “have” creativity and some don’t “have” it—it’s that we ARE creative. All of us. This is a groundbreaking thought for me as a writer, as a non-profit director, and as a person. I highly recommend this book especially to those who are feeling "stuck" or in a creative slump - this book is for you!
Ken Wytsma has once again provided a blueprint, this time to tap into the natural creativity bestowed to us by the ultimate Creator. As someone who is a self-proclaimed non-creative, I read through Create vs Copy quickly because I couldn’t put it down. Now, I will go through to process the material, answer the study questions, and begin to embrace change, ignite creativity, and break through with imagination. There is so much packed into this book that it is hard to even put into words. If you are like me, non-creative, and desire to adapt this portion of you, then read Create vs Copy now! You will not be sorry!