Creativity and Failure Are Twins

February 28, 2013 — Leave a comment

Somewhere along the line we were fed the lie that failure would be the end of us.

This is why there are more half-written books in the world than there are published ones. It’s why there are hundreds of thousands of people stuck in miserable jobs. It’s why that song of yours is never quite finished. It’s why there never seems to be a “right time” for your small business or non-profit to be launched.

Because over all these ideas is that looming question – What if it doesn’t work?

Creativity Failure

You want to create, but what if you fail?

One of my life mantras was born out of statement made by Erwin McManus in an interview I read. He said, “Unfortunately, many churches are so afraid of making mistakes that they don’t; that’s why the creative process dies. Creativity and failure are twins.”

That statement stuck with me. It’s a reminder that the road of risk will always lead to either creativity or failure. Unfortunately, you cannot decide which it will be beforehand. Creativity and failure are twins. In other words, you will never give birth to creative expression if you are afraid of the chance of failure.

It’s such an important distinction to understand.

Creative ingenuity is not born from the discovery of how not to fail. It comes from not being afraid to fail.

The reason why many of us have not yet stepped into a life of risk, and therefore a life of creativity, is because we’re caught in systems that make no room for failure.

The heart of religion and religious structure is self-preservation. It’s about saving face and protecting the bottom line. When you fail in this environment, there may be a small dose of grace but coupled with a “don’t do that again.” Here, failures are hidden and swept under the rug. You can be who you are as long as it doesn’t negatively reflect on the organization. You can be sure that true creative expression will never flow from this environment – only copies and whispers of creative thought.

In contrast, the heart of the Kingdom of God is love. In an environment of love, there is no room for fear – especially the fear of failure (1 John 4:18). People in this environment gladly walk the path of risk because it’s the only road that leads to creative possibilities. Love welcomes you to make messes as long as you’re willing to help clean them up. Love does not focus on your potential to screw up, but is determined to see you come fully alive in who you were created to be. Love does not obsess over your failures but also does not hide them shamefully. Love believes that failure is overrated. This is the environment that frees you up to be creative.

Both the heart of religion or the heart of the kingdom can be seen in our churches, our families, our workplaces, and in ourselves. The question is – which environment are you caught up in and which environment are you working to create?

The reality is – all of us have failed. And we WILL fail many more times as we travel this road of risk and faith. But is that a thought you embrace or run from?

If you’d like to keep up with the blog, you can subscribe to the RSS Feed or you can sign up to receive every post by email.