33 Key Takeaways on Making Ideas Happen

400 leading creatives + 18 visionary speakers + New York City = Lots of wisdom on creativity and productivity. Each point is expounded further here. I’ve left out the blatantly unbiblical points, including two with bad language.

  1. Without the doing, the dreaming is useless.
  2. There will always be another idea that looks better than the one you’re working on.
  3. Don’t let your high expectations hold you back.
  4. The answer will only arrive after we stop looking for it.
  5. Grit, the stubborn refusal to quit, is the single best predictor of success.
  6. Creative greatness is the result of an ensemble.
  7. Find your unique superpower.
  8. Create an environment where people can be their best selves.
  9. Keep a work diary because you’re busy.
  10. Celebrate your small wins.
  11. We’re most productive when we’re doing meaningful work.
  12. You need to earn every single user who visits your site.
  13. Always say “Yes, and…”
  14. Be positive, be real, and act confidently what you are
  15. Diversity isn’t just nice – it’s necessary.
  16. Don’t found “the next big thing,” found “the next big culture.”
  17. Perfection is not overrated – quality matters.
  18. Trust the data, even if it surprises you.
  19. Forge ahead: invent your own research process.
  20. Transparency and vulnerability always wins.
  21. It’s not the first impression that counts. It’s the second, third, fourth, and fifth impression.
  22. Listen to your customers to transform your business.
  23. Hire slow, fire fast.
  24. Do your “One Thing” better than anyone else.
  25. At the core of any exciting project is a difficult problem.
  26. You must ship (preferably within a year).
  27. If you’re not having doubt, you’re not pushing hard enough.
  28. Frustration is where my creativity comes from.
  29. Think of your work as a gift.
  30. Just ask! Ask for more time, more creativity, more money.
  31. Fall in love with building the capacity of people.
  32. Propose ideas without polish.
  33. Don’t surrender strategy to execution.

Check out

Grief – A Forgotten Apologetic
Gritty, realistic, challenging, helpful post on grief from Nathan Bingham.

Ernest Hemmingway: The Art of Fiction
Fascinating article about Hemingway’s writing environment and process. And he used a stand-up desk! (HT: Chris Larson)

Success that exceeds sanctification
TIm Challies’ new prayer: “Do not allow me success that exceeds my sanctification.”

Fully Off
“Increasingly I am finding myself powering the phone down when I get home from work. Not “silent mode.” Not “airplane mode.” Off. Disconnected.”

Proverbs for Christian Blogging
“The central point that can be gathered from Proverbs 7 is that the battle against the seductive woman is not won on the streets but from the window.   Once that foolish guy was walking towards her house he was as good as dead.  If you want to battle inappropriate sex its a war that is waged long before you get into the heat of the moment.”

Jesus sighed

Apparently I sigh a lot – usually when I’m frustrated, angry, defeated, or impatient. Sometimes it’s all of these. So, when I read that Jesus sighed in front of the deaf and dumb man He was about to heal (Mark 7:34), I’m puzzled.

As His sighs are perfect, they cannot be caused by frustration, anger, defeat or impatience. So what produced this sinless sigh, a sigh of such significance that Mark included it in his Gospel? There are four possible components in this sigh:

1. A Sigh of Comparison: Just as we might sigh when we see a previously beautiful house or garden ruined by neglect or vandalism, so Jesus sighed when He saw the previously beautiful humanity that He had made (Jn. 1:3; Col. 1:16) now so ruined and vandalized by sin and its consequences. This sigh was all the deeper as it focused on the two senses of speech communication that had so distinguished humanity. How the mighty had fallen!

2. A Sigh of Conquest: As the weightlifter groans, gasps, and sighs as he lifts the bending bar, so Jesus articulated the effort involved in this healing by similar sighs and groans. And remember Jesus was not just healing physical deafness and dumbness, He was most likely also saving a soul. Surely this was not “effortless,” but rather it cost Him and drained Him

3. A Sigh of Concern. This man had never heard or said anything sinful. His disabilities had reduced his sin opportunities. But Jesus knew that when he started hearing and speaking, his ears and his lips would start sinning. How worrying and concerning for Christ. He saw that greater temptations would now come his way and expressed His  concerned pity through this sigh. Maybe the time would come when this man might wish he had never been able to speak and hear. Some of us may have felt this too at times.

4. A Sigh of Compassion: As Jesus saw the devastation visited upon the apex of God’s creation because of sin, He sighed with sympathy and empathy. “He took our sicknesses and carried our sorrows” (Matt. 8:17) does not mean that Christ suffered all our diseases, experienced our disabilities, and endured chicken pox, measles, flu, etc. However, it does mean that He was able to enter into such diseases, disabilities, and ailments and feel them as if he was going through them himself. In fact, with his perfect imagination and sensitivity, He was able to feel such things even more deeply than the actual sufferers.

How wonderful to have a Savior who is touched with the feeling of our infirmities. I can bring all my sighs to Christ, because He has felt them even more than I have.

Check out

3 reasons to pursue life-giving rest
“How are you?” “Busy.” I find myself hearing this and saying this far too often. Busy is a badge of honour in our culture and many of us wear it to display significance, importance and to appear needed. (HT: Aaron Armstrong)

Gentle Answers
Got a question? You might like the new feature at Gentle Reformation.

An update on Reformation Bible College
RC Sproul: “I would have given anything to have been able to go to a college like this after I graduated from high school.”

Animal Lessons
“The Lord not only designed the animals for naturalistic functions such as pollinating plants or providing you with food and clothing, but to be an intentional, constant reflection to you of spiritual lessons?”

Literal, Historical, Poetical?
Justin links to some important definitions.

A massage or a message?

I’ve been enjoying reading through Scott Thomas’s book The Gospel Coach. Scott’s compassion for pastors and his heart for the church is evident throughout and proven by years of involvement in leadership training. There’a a wealth of theological and practical help for pastors, especially for those with a burden to train the next generation of church leaders. One of the unexpected highlights for me was the extremely helpful, thought-provoking, and memorable graphics – they really seal the teaching in your mind and heart. Thus far, I’m giving the book a hearty recommendation.

Humanistic devices?
Given the balanced biblical tone of the book, I was therefore surprised to read some of the lines in Scott’s recent article Why every church leader needs the Gospel. There’s much I totally agree with in this piece, but the opening paragraphs did concern me. There, Scott noted the disturbing statistics about pastoral depression, obesity, burnout, etc., and then expressed concern that some pastors are “leaning on humanistic devices to cope with life and the stresses of ministry.” But he included some surprising suspects among these “humanistic devices”:

How do we, as church leaders, cope with the stress? I think we resort to methods that any leader could try, regardless of their faith in Jesus Christ. We try taking up hobbies, personal retreats, days off, and vacations. These are not bad things, but they are not answers. They should be expressions of resting in our identity in Christ, not the means to find rest.

What’s Scott saying here? Some options are:

  1. We should not use hobbies, retreats, days off, vacations, etc. to find rest and relaxation because unbelievers use them too, OR
  2. We can have hobbies, take days off, etc, but don’t think that they will be the answer to stress, etc., OR
  3. We can use these things, but only if they are expressions of resting in our identity in Christ, not the means to find rest.

If it’s #3, then I’m not quite sure what would satisfy here. Can I go running, but only if I remember who I am in Christ first? It’s confusing, isn’t it, and perhaps reveals some of the deep dualism that continues to undermine evangelicalism: soul good but body bad. Or to put it another way, all problems are “Gospel” problems.

I wouldn’t be so heavy on men who rebuild their weak and weary bodies and minds with “music, massage, guns, or mental holidays.” I don’t think these men are necessarily denying their identity in Christ. In fact, in some ways they could be recognizing their God-given identity in an even more fundamental way than the most Gospel-centered among us – that is, their identity as creatures.

Foundational identity?
In my own experience, most pastors get their identity as sinners saved by glorious grace. What they don’t get, or what gets pushed to the sidelines by their wonderful passion for the Gospel and mission, is that they are limited, dependent creatures who need to find out their physical, mental, and emotional limitations, work within them, and rebuild them using the means God has provided (e.g. exercise, rest, hobbies, etc.) when they are depleted.

Or, to put it another way, our identity in Christ begins not with recognizing Christ as Savior, but with recognizing Him as our Creator and we as His creatures (John 1:3; Col: 1:16). If we don’t build on that foundation, and instead start trying to live as disembodied Gospel-centered spirits, don’t be surprised if the body begins to crack and crumble. What most stressed-out pastors need to hear first is not, “Don’t you know you’re a Christian?” but rather, “Don’t you know you’re a creature?”

Sometimes the most Christ-centered, God-honoring thing we can do is to take a nap rather than pray. Or even have a massage (from your wife, of course), rather than prepare another message.