Scary Answers

I teach a class called “Imagination” as part of the core curriculum for Entrepreneurship at OSU.  The OKSU OSU.  I teach and assign projects in an “Open Ended” manner, on purpose.  Even when I explain, “If I tell you how to do a journal entry, and what topics to cover, I would not have seen the 20+ formats I have seen work creatively for  so many students.”

Three students will drop the class immediately when we leave the room.

One bright eyed, intent student will ask, “How many words do you want in an entry?”

We have taught students in years of schooling that there is one correct answer, the teacher’s way of doing things, and no matter what the teacher says, she is absolutely looking for one answer in the discussion.  She will smile through all the other answers, but she ends the discussion when we arrive at the right answer.

In creativity, and in innovation, we can find hundreds of answers, and all might work. — with work.

Christianity seems similar.  Many people accept that we are a mess, in need of saving, and God did this elaborate, astonishing thing in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus that we only have to accept.  One answer.  Does not demand too much to accept.

Craig Groeschel preached this morning in his Selfless series.  He described how to see God in the moment (even in the grind) and develop new answers, new growth, see the tough things through to the end.

Crickets.  Twenty people applaud, and the rest sit in super quiet mode, eyes a little glazed over.  Millions of correct answers — with work.  Too much for some people.

The on”oanswer fits all” is a great way to build audiences, to increase church attendance.  The millions of possible answers, the kind we must work out not knowing if we are right, trusting through the falling on your face times, and trusting God is guiding — builds Christ followers.

Graduate from the answers Someone else constructed, so you only have to answer “I accept” or “I am afraid” to the answers that mutate, grow, stretch us, slap us into next week, and force us to depend on God to follow God.

It is scarier, more demanding, and full of pitfalls, like all good adventures.

Blank Pages

The simplest discipline is a blank page. 

It does not matter if I am journaling, writing creatively, corresponding, tackling a project that shimmers in data and technical work, or writing a blog — the simplest discipline is a blank page. 

I make my students do this, push my sons to do so, and push (if you have known Jill for a nanosecond you know I speak of an impossibility here) Jill to pull out an empty piece of watercolor paper; and begin.

Mickey walked me through ten pages echoing his terror — at beginning.  He plans his day, outlays when and how much and then languishes as the terror infuses the procrastination with a stymying stoppage of everything.  I read his journal and then downloaded it to converse with each paragraph and sometimes each line.  I don’t do that grading everyone, and I don’t do therapy, but I could not help but engage his horror at starting, much less following through.

It strikes me, that if we live long enough we will not take anything for granted.  Getting out of bed is courageous, more for some folks than others.  Walking over and starting — anything — is a gift, if you can do it.  Don’t take it for granted that everyone can get up, walk over and start something. 

I responded to Mickey, but that doesn’t mean I did anything more than offend him, except to tell him to get help.  Real help. 

So, the next time that you have an empty sheet and you begin — anything, whisper a small ‘thank you’ that you are doing it without thinking about it so much that the page remains blank.