This is part two of a series on Joe, a fifty-nine year old gentleman admitted to hospice with lung cancer. Joe was very intelligent. His wife, Nancy, stated “Our children and grandchildren really thought he knew everything”.
Joe and I talked about the importance of having a dream, a vision, and the need to act upon it. We talked about “the adventure of living”, of pursuing something new, something challenging. Joe’s dream was to become a writer, to publish a novel. Joe was determined and intentional. His approach reminds me of what another hospice patient once told me, “If a man doesn’t know where he’s going he’ll find himself walking sideways. And I don’t want to walk sideways.” Neither did Joe.
Joe planned, he prepared and he worked hard at it. He’d taken a correspondence course in creative writing for several years, submitting writing assignments with his mentor providing constructive feedback. He studied how successful writers approached the “work of writing”
Before my conversations with Joe, I thought of creativity as inspired, spontaneous, and effortless; a touch, a gift; not a process, and especially not hard work. I guess I’ve heard too many stories about artists writing hit songs on napkins in only five minutes.
Howard G. Hendricks in his book, “Coloring Outside the Lines”, suggests that every human being has creative potential, for we are made in the image of our “Creator”. But it’s easier to say, “I’m just not creative”, than to admit that we just don’t want to do the work, and embrace the discipline required.
Howard Hendricks referred to the following story to underline the true nature of creativity: “When the governor of North Carolina complimented Thomas Edison on his inventive genius, Edison denied that he was a great inventor. ‘But you have over a thousand patents to your credit, haven’t you?’ asked the governor. ‘Yes,’ replied Edison. ‘But my only original invention is the phonograph. I guess I’m just a really good sponge. I absorb ideas from every source I can, put them into practical use, and improve on them until they become of some value. The ideas are mostly those of others who don’t develop them themselves.’” Consequently, most of us are overexposed but underdeveloped in regards to creativity.
Joe and I talked about how most of us desire the prominent positions, the recognition and the notoriety; but not the work and sacrifice required. Joe and I talked about the Biblical story of the mother of James and John, two of the disciples of Jesus. She asked Jesus, with her sons at her side, “Grant that these two sons of mine may sit, one on Your right hand and the other on the left, in Your kingdom.” But Jesus responded, “You do not know what you ask. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am about to be baptized with?” (Matthew 20:17-28).
You see, with every position, every opportunity, comes responsibility; a cup and a baptism. Jesus proclaimed, “…For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more”. (Luke 12:47-49) So we would be wise to be careful what we ask for.
So, in conclusion, let’s ask ourselves, “Is there an idea I’ve had that I haven’t done anything with? If so, like Thomas Edison, let’s “Put them into practical use, and improve on them until they become of some value.” In doing so we won’t end up with lives that are overexposed but underdeveloped.
“Let your endurance become a finished product” (James 1:2-4, “Moffat”)
Loren Hardin is a hospice social worker at Southern Ohio Medical Center and can be reached at [email protected] or at 740-356-2525