Clever - mentally bright; having sharp or quick intelligence; able.
Steve Jobs once said that, “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.”
When we look at people or movements that have made an impact, they generally have been innovators. They've created a new way to think and broadened our minds beyond our own subjective mentality.
So, for me, when I think of innovators, I think of creativity more than I do cleverness. I saw a great tweet not too long ago by a Mac enthusiast that said, "Hi, I'm Steve Jobs, and Windows 7 was my idea." I'm sure that Microsoft has done it's share of innovation, but it's becoming clear that Apple is leading the way in changing the way we think and use computers.
This post isn't about PC vs. Macs, though. It's about creativity.
I'm very much a creative thinker. I love graphic design, video editing, and I generally love innovating. I thrive off of it. If I feel deprived or restricted creatively, it actually affects my mood and outlook on life in the present. I need to vent creatively, which is the main reason I started blogging. It's been a great outlet.
I know people who are very clever. They are usually really witty and quick to expound and bounce off existing ideas or scenerios.
I also know creative people. These are people who are looking beyond what currently exists and they bring something completely new and fresh to the table. These people can also irritate status-quo peeps to no end.
That being said, as a creative thinker, I'm prone to get frustrated with cleverness sometimes. It seems that some movements try to be clever instead of creative.
...and I'm sure you've seen a million more like these, as have I.
Now, I am not attacking these t-shirts or the makers, because God can use anything. I am simply identifying these as clever, rather than creative. They're a spoof of something that someone very creative came up with, and it impacted culture.
Recently, it came out that the growing movement called International House of Prayer (IHOP) is being sued by, you guessed it, International House of Pancakes (the original IHOP) for trademark infringement. Click here to read the full story. The house of prayer is an amazing place, and God is doing great, creative things in their midst, but.............if they could've only stayed away from using that acronym, which I have to think they knew would bring attention to them....which is clever.
I'm not calling for a total expulsion of all "play-on words" ideas, because sometimes clever is effective. What I'm saying is that, creativity gives birth to innovation and progress towards becoming better. As Christian leaders of the church, we can choose creativity or cleverness when it comes to proclaiming the Gospel. All you have to do is drive and read most church marquee's to see the lack of creativity and over-abundance of cleverness that the Church is generally using.
"It's hot outside, but our church is prayer-conditioned."
....or the very popular...
"CH CH is not the same if U R not in it."
These are clever, but I'm afraid cleverness is not going to attract our present society into the church, especially if the best we can do is 30-40 year old slogans.
Creativity brings fresh, new life into dead, boring environments. Creativity birthed by creative people can do a lot of great things. As church leaders, we have the ultimate creative juice of the Holy Spirit. The most creative ideas I've had were not my ideas, but God's. They are beyond clever. They are new and mind-blowing. Far greater than anything we could imagine. God's ideas are better and brighter, because they come from a place that we have only seen in-part, but one day we will see the full radiance of the ultimate Creator: GOD.
When we're innovating for the Kingdom, let's be more creative and less clever.
What's the most creative thing you've seen lately for the Kingdom?