No one loves fake. To be called a “phony” is not a compliment. Even the word “bogus” sounds like an unwanted and sticky unknown "something" that should be flushed down the toilet. But we love the words authenticity, humility and transparency. While these words are critical and necessary, I would argue that originality is the most.
While living in DC I had the privilege of seeing many originals by many artists: Leonardo da Vinci, Rembrandt van Rijn, Vincent Van Gogh, Claude Monet, Picasso, etc. What made these moments significant to all of us in attendance is they are "originals." They were authentic, genuine creations by these famous creators that were collected and on display for us to admire. A few doors down there was also a giant, well-lit room with large crowds in it with wall to wall creations on display. I love Claude Monet...and here there were many for me to look at and admire. The only difference is that these were not real like the priceless paintings in Monet exhibit but replica’s. These copies were souvenirs to collect to hang on dorm room walls, apartments and as inspiration for aspiring future artists. Being an original makes you valuable. Copies are cheap for a reason.
You can be a masterpiece or you can be mass-produced. That’s why there is nothing more special to God than for you to be the you because that is what God is waiting for and what the world is looking for! Original comes from the Latin word meaning, “the first in time.” We could say it this way, “one of a kind.” No one will ever be like you. Your DNA is unique. Your fingerprints only belong to you and no one else. You were made to be different; to stand apart; to be a genuine expression of the creative mind and heart of God. In a world that seems to celebrate conformity, God desires you to resist against conformity. He wants you to be yourself! Don’t be conformed to this world but be transformed to be a unique translation of God’s heart and voice in the world.
While that sounds noble and powerful, being an original isn’t as easy as we think. If we stopped to ask this question how would we answer: Is this a safe place for me to be myself? I think this is a question we will all ask ourselves eventually if we haven’t asked it yet. This doesn’t mean it’s the right question to ask…but nonetheless it’s a critical question that we are asking when we are in a meeting, in the classroom, in the car, etc. This is a question we must ask if we are going to be the original God has called us to be.
If being an original is a good thing, then how do we start and keep our originality?
3 WAYS TO START AND KEEP YOUR GOD-GIVEN ORIGINALITY:
1. BE CREATIVE: Reclaim creativity by resisting the status quo.
Sometimes we have to violate what we know as the standard to discover a new standard. This misbehavior towards “the traditional” creates “a new normal.” So be unconventional. Be unusual. Be unique. Be “you-nique” because God thinks you are. God says in Psalm 139:13-14, “I have been amazingly and miraculously made. Your works are miraculous, and my soul is fully aware of this.” You are a miracle. You are amazing. You are the first good idea. From you come all the good (and bad) ideas necessary for you to be who you were meant to be and to do what God has called you to do. Your good and bad ideas are a collective masterpiece of expressions that show the world there’s no one like you.
Adam Grantm from his book, Originals: How Non-Conformists Change the World, says this, “Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.” You are worth keeping. Your creativity is worth sharing. Creativity isn’t perfection it’s inspiration. Inspiration comes from the Latin word “spirare” which means “to breathe.” Inspiration is God breathing into you the creativity you need to break out. Maybe it’s less about being the first one with the beginning idea but it’s about being the one who has a better idea. The root of creativity is being able to clash instead of conform. George Bernard Shaw says, “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”
2. BE VULNERABLE: Openness is bravery.
Vulnerability Isn’t weak to others but wonderful to others. I repeat, vulnerability doesn’t mean that you’re weak, it means that you’re brave enough to embrace the reality that you don’t have it all together but trust a God who holds it all together. Authenticity reveals "this is who I am." Vulnerability exposes "this is who I'm not." Your vulnerability shapes your originality. I’m great at putting on a great exterior. But I’m bad at letting others look "under the hood" and see the dysfunction underneath. But as I get older, I realize that being vulnerable with people is one of the most “freeing joys” that I have experienced with another person. That’s why trying to adjust yourself according to who and what others want you to be is the exact opposite of freedom and it’s the least joyful. When we try to be someone else to everyone else it’s simply wrong. Because when we hide the “undesirable” parts of our lives, we are building our lives on a façade than a foundation. Like a movie set, facades are shaky, flimsy and have an appearance but are just plywood and plastic. Foundations are the real thing and when Christ is your foundation, then you have all the permission in the world to be yourself. We are all deserving of love exactly as we because if Christ loves us and accepts us as we are then we should also (Romans 8:38-39).
3. BE RISKY: Sometimes it takes more than one time.
When you fail you still keep doing it and then you become great at what you do. I would argue, failure is not even trying to get back up, but just quitting. You could have been so close, but you said, "this isn't going to work" so we give up. Proverbs 24:16, says it like this, “ The righteous may fall seven times but still get up…” Most people give up but originality stand up...and take the risk. Your commitment to see it through even when you fail puts you in a better position to see it through for your future. Acting now when you fear what happens next sets you apart. So, do it afraid and watch God move. Consider Shakespeare: we’re most familiar with a small number of his classics, forgetting that in the span of two decades, he produced 37 creative, written works. Mozart composed over 600 pieces before his death at 35 and Bach over a 1000 in his lifetime! Picasso’s creative legacy is composed of over 17,800 paintings, sculptures, ceramics, and drawings, not to mention prints, rugs, and tapestries. It’s less about you being perfect and more about you being willing to fail. Because the more you fail, the more successful you become.