Can a Christian Be a Creative Genius?

By: Bryan Belknap


In case you aren’t reading this on an iPhone, iMac, iPod Touch or iPad, you might have missed the recent passing of Steve Jobs.

The flood of posthumous press appears to agree on two things:

Steve Jobs was (A) a genius and (B) a world-class jerk. (Need proof? The man denied paternity to his daughter Lisa, forcing his child to live on welfare.)

Which leads me to ask – Why do the most impressive creative minds always seem to be connected to the bodies of insufferably arrogant egomaniacs?

Salvador Dali, Bobby Fischer, Barry Bonds, Thomas Edison – colossal tyrants.

Look at any field – art, politics, sports, business – and the man (and sometimes woman) who radically changed or reshaped the landscape invariably turns out to be a bull headed egomaniac allowed to rampage over the will and feelings of those around them simply because their immense talent gets them a permanent get-out-of-jail-free card.

Logically, I get that self-absorbed misanthropes excel because they devote ALL of their time and energy pursuing their personal goal. Jerks get stuff done when they do is obsess 24/7/365.

Can Christians take a transformative lead in the arts? politics? business? (I’m not talking about success or even excellence here, but prodigious creative genius that forces a paradigm shift in an industry – or society – as a whole.)

There appears to be a direct correlation between focused arrogance and creative genius, according to extensive research led by psychologist Paul Silvia of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

If true, Christians don’t have a chance. Jesus requires His followers to focus so completely on others that we lay down our lives for them. (And “others” isn’t just family and close friends either, but everyone.) We are called to align our hearts and minds with Christ alone, not devote every inch of our fiber to achieving a dream or goal.

Despite the evidence, I am convinced that Christians should be able to short circuit the ego trap and become leaders in every area of human achievement because we have direct communion with the ultimate source of creativity. Colossians 1:15-17 states:

The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

As if that wasn’t enough, God also displays his deep care about creativity by choosing Bezalel – an artist – as the very first person in recorded history to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Exodus 31:1-5 says:

Then the LORD said to Moses, “See, I have chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills— to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood, and to engage in all kinds of crafts.

(SIDE NOTE: You gotta wonder if Moses got mad when he heard this. “You mean you sent me in against Pharaoh and the nation of Egypt without your Spirit?! But now you heap it on your interior designer?!?!)

I am convinced that God’s people can blaze new directions, yet I struggle to find real life examples. Am I overlooking game-changing believers who are “Steve Jobsian” in their accomplishments? If not, why is there a success gap between the vain innovators and the righteously humble?

This may sound like an egghead discussion, but it’s important for anyone training up tomorrow’s Christians to dissect. As our young people pursue the path that God has laid out before them, we must illuminate the godly way for them to lead and create so they will carry on the work of expanding His Kingdom.

And continue that legacy long after people have stopped using Apple products.