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Friday, November 18, 2016

"Create vs Copy" (Ken Wytsma)

TITLE: Create vs. Copy: Embrace Change. Ignite Creativity. Break Through with Imagination.
AUTHOR: Ken Wytsma
PUBLISHER: Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2016, (192 pages).

Be willing to change. Be excited about creativity. Exercise our imaginations. Let innovation and passion for new ideas lead the way. Leadership is essentially learning to lead in creative ways. This is the key message in this book, that to create is far better than to copy. Moreover, a creative new idea excites while an imitation tends to bore. Wytsma is not just passionate about intentional creativity, he longs to share this with many and this book is one way he is doing just that. He helps us go back to the basics.

In thinking about creativity, we are reminded that creating is very much a part of our relationship with creation. It is also a direct result of our relationship with God our creator. We learn more about God through our acts of creativity. This includes simple ideas in the head, various products on the shelves, memories of the past, recipes in the kitchen, sculptures in the art studio, sports and strategies, prayer meetings, campaigning, and many more. As long as we are kept creative, there is always something new to begin with. That is why as far as creativity is concerned, there is no end point. For God is constantly creating. It is also redemptive in the sense that creativity expands horizons and presents opportunities for growth. Moreover, the world we live in are constantly changing. If we fail to adapt and to change, we would be left behind. Wystma shares a powerful story of what it means to reach out to poorer countries like Africa. Some African countries have leapfrogged the communications technology moving directly from no-communications to wireless communications. Unlike many places in the US that are still dependent on fixed line infrastructures, such wireless advancements have accelerated the pace of progress in these African countries. No longer is it about white people sending white resources to Africa. Instead, it is about empowering African communities with new infrastructure that excites and motivates them to help themselves! Looking back to the culture state-side, Wytsma notes how modern sustained stress can negatively impact creativity. He then supplies four ways in which we can practice and facilitate creativity.

First, we need to recapture the spark of imagination. Tell stories. Think big thoughts. Dream. Learn to see the world with eyes of children. Think divergently. Imagination sparks creativity. Second, refine our imagination through practical innovation. Comprehensive imagination helps us draw up a big picture of what we can achieve. Artistic imagination goes beyond fine arts toward interactions and vibrant relationships. Practical imagination looks up ideas and turn them into solutions for common problems. Be humble to know when an idea ends. At the same time, expand the domain of creativity beyond merely a few persons to all people. Third, recognize that many works of creation comes about during the process of creating. Like learning to ride a bicycle, it is only when we are in motion we can start to learn about braking, about changing gears, about speed and turns, etc. We learn as we do; we create as we work; and we innovate as we learn. Fourth, generosity is a fruit of creativity. When something creative is being done, people quickly come alongside and participate. The excitement generated could even have a life of its own. Wytsma goes further to see generous creativity through three lenses: 1) Collaborative lens; 2) "In Process" lens; and 3) Redemptive lens. He ends with a reflection on the psalmist's call to sing a new song. Indeed, when the new is come, the old will pass away. New things in themselves will soon become old. That is why it is imperative to keep the creative process going.

Wytsma is spot on when it comes to seeing creativity as the essence of new life. By focusing on this main point, he invites readers to journey with him on the many roads toward innovation and creation. Although the title of the book pits "Create" against "Copy," this book is more about the former and very little about the latter. In a way, the title can be a bit misleading especially for those looking to compare and contrast the two against each other. I get where the author is coming from. Creativity is the essence of what it means to live as a redeemed person. Without creativity, we will soon lose our vitality and enthusiasm for life. When life slows to a routine or a meaningless ritual, it also takes away joy and passion. The part about the busyness of life and stress is a case in point. When we are too busy to think, when we are constantly occupied with mundane concerns, and when we are exhausted about wanting to find new ways to solve old problems, we become less of ourselves. That is why we need books like this to challenge us to think outside of the box and to question the status quo. There are limitless ways in which we can be creative. From writing to singing, from working to planning, and from thinking to resting, the sky is the limit. The key constraint we have is not time or resources but the size of the human imagination. Once we are gripped with a vision, we can expand our horizons and to dream big. For that matter, if we have a "creative" heart, anything we do is creative. If we have a "copying" mindset, whatever we do is copying.

Ken Wytsma is founder of The Justice Conference as well as the president of Kilns College. He wears many hats as a teacher, a consultant, a church planter, an innovator, as well as a lead pastor. His website (kenwytsma.com) contains many resources to facilitate change and creativity.

Rating: 5 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me courtesy of Moody Publishers in exchange for an honest review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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