24 July 2016

#CultivatingCreativity: CULTIVATE HUMILITY

Hi all! Welcome to part 3 of a 4-part series on #CultivatingCreativity. Each Sunday in the month of July, we're looking at different ways to cultivate creativity through overcoming or combatting creativity killers. In part 1, we discussed combatting comparison with GRATITUDE--being thankful for our gifts and talents rather than comparing ourselves with others. In part 2, we talked about overcoming perfectionism with GRACE--perfectionism stifles creativity, but by giving ourselves grace to fail we can pursue excellence and free ourselves from the fear of failing.

So today I want to talk about the creativity killer called pride. At the core of pride is self-absorption. Everything is all about me--my feelings, my abilities, my life. Pride pushes me to expend extraordinary amounts of sideways energy (energy I could be using to create beautiful things) proving to everyone and everything that this is not a heliocentric universe at all, that in fact I am at the center of the universe. Pride turns me inward. I focus on myself, my feelings, my well-being. When I become self-absorbed, my world shrinks. I can no longer see things as they are, but only as they relate to me. Things have to be done my way, in my time, according to my plan. Can you see how this kills the creative process? I cannot draw inspiration from others or from the world around me because I'm so busy making sure that it's all about me, about my needs getting met. Pride introduces fear into the equation. What if people realize it's NOT all about me? (Guess what, they know--in fact, many of them are probably in the same boat.) What if an artist out there is better than me? Or a chef is making more money than I do? Or another professor is getting better student evaluations than me? Do you see what's going on here? All of the sudden the world is on its head--art isn't about creating, food isn't about eating, teaching isn't about learning...it's all about me. And now my world has shrunk to 5-feet something and 100 and some pounds. Pretty stinkin' small.

So what do we do about it? The antidote to pride is not low self-esteem. The antidote to pride is NO self-esteem. The antidote is HUMILITY. Humility isn't about debasing the self, humility is about setting the self aside and turning our focus outward. C.S. Lewis writes that a truly humble man won't be thinking of himself at all. Now please don't think you can capture humility over night. Humility takes a life time of work. There's a reason I wrote the above paragraph in the first person. I still have so much pride-killing work to do. Cultivating humility means making a thousand little choices each day to put someone else first. It means dragging myself out of bed in the early morning to write a blog post rather than sitting there, warm and comfy, and waking my husband up with the click clack of my laptop keyboard. It means letting my kids go to camp for two weeks when I know I'll miss them terribly. It means studying my friends and family so that I can love them in the ways that they need me to love them, rather than in the ways that I want to. (If you haven't read it, grab The Five Love Languages and read it this summer. It's a relationship changer!) Humility means choosing to listen to a person rather than thinking up a response while they're talking. Humility means hurting when someone hurts, and celebrating when they have something to celebrate. Humility is about serving people instead of being served.

As we cultivate humility, we become ever more creative in how we live. Our world is no longer the size of us, but rather becomes the vast, complex universe that it was created to be. Humility allows us to live in wide-eyed wonder instead of squinty-eyed greed.* Humility allows us to do hard things because life is no longer measured by our convenience. Humility allows us to love the unlovely because we are no longer concerned with how they can benefit us. Humility allows us to draw creative inspiration from everyone and everything--half the time without even knowing it. Humility is about holding loosely to what we have so that we can meet the needs of others.

Make no mistake about it: CULTIVATING HUMILITY IS HARD WORK! But it's at the core of living life to the full. Killing pride happens by a thousand cuts. It dies as we make a thousand little decisions everyday to put someone else first. But when we do that, we get to tear down those walls of pride and see the beauty of the world around us. And we get to add to that beauty** with every act of love, of creativity, of service that we do. And everyday life becomes bigger and fuller and more wonder-filled. It becomes the wild ride it was meant to be instead of the slow, steady, creativity-killing march toward death that our pride would make it.

Live life to the full, folks!

Until next time then.....

* I love the juxtaposition of these to visuals. The credit for them goes to Eugene Peterson's translation of Luke 11:33-36 in The Message.
**The idea of "add to the beauty" comes from a song of the same title by the incredible Sara Groves. The link will take you to the song. 


  1. Beautifully written, Kim! You are giving us so much to think about and learn from! Thank you for sharing!

  2. I have really enjoyed your series. So thought provoking and well-written. Please keep writing and sharing.

  3. I have really enjoyed your series. So thought provoking and well-written. Please keep writing and sharing.

  4. I have really enjoyed your series. So thought provoking and well-written. Please keep writing and sharing.

  5. I have really enjoyed your series. So thought provoking and well-written. Please keep writing and sharing.