Leadership Reading List: The Accidental Creative Part 1

Throughout my time serving in ministry I have watched people struggle with how to best define the role of a pastor.  The job is so varied, with so many different opportunities that it can be hard to know just how to classify the role.  Over the last couple of years, Todd Henry, and his Accidental Creative podcast,  has helped me to understand that the job of a pastor is that of a creative.  We may not be designing sculptures, creating marketing campaigns, or redecorating the inside of a home, but we constantly creating new ways to look at the problems of this world, ways to help our congregations interact with the gospel, and helping people to more fully become who God has called them to be.  If that is not a creative job, I don’t know what is.

Todd recently released his first book, The Accidental Creative: How to Be Brilliant at a Moment’s Notice, it is a fantastic book for anyone in the creative world and I think it needs to be required reading in seminaries.  The book is divided into two parts, the first covers the dynamics of the life of a creative, the second addresses how to develop rythms in your life that will help keep you, in Todd’s words, “prolific, brilliant, and healthy”.

Todd graciously agreed to share a little bit about why he started the Accidental Creative, what he is learning, and pass along some wisdom to help pastors, as creatives, go about our work in a sustainable way.  Part one of the interview will deal with a little bit of Todd’s background, why he does what he does, and who he considers to be a creative.  Tomorrow we will talk a little bit about relational practices in the life of a creative, and Wednesday we will dive into a few of the practices that help us be sustainably creative over a long period of time.

Todd, tell us a little bit about why you started Accidental Creative and what your work is all about.

Todd Henry: I spent a lot of time in the marketplace in various capacities; first, in the music business; second, in non-profit sector; third, as kind of a roving creative person within organizations.  I spent a lot of time dealing with the dynamics of creating on-demand, and I really came to a point where I realized that many of the things I was seeing were not isolated to one individual organization or another, but there seemed to be common dynamics across the creative industries.

People were burning out in record numbers, people were fried, people were frustrated, and there is a real need for some kind of conversation about what that dynamic is doing to creative workers.  I couldn’t find that conversation.  After talking with a lot of respected creative leaders, I decided to start that forum, the Accidental Creative which started as a podcast and it quickly grew into a platform.  Really the ethic behind the Accidental Creative is trying to figure out what it is we can do as creative professionals to stay prolific, brilliant, and healthy.  Which means making a lot of stuff, making good stuff and doing it in a sustainable way.  That sustainability factor is what’s often missing in many organizations.  That’s really where I like to focus on most: not just prolific and brilliant which many of us can handle, but also healthy.  What does it look like to do it in a healthy way?  That’s kind of what drives me, helping creatives be unleashed their best work and to do it sustainably.

I strongly believe that pastors are creatives, maybe not in the traditional sense, but are creatives none the less… would you agree with that?  Why or why not?

TH: Absolutely, I believe anybody who solves problems on a daily basis and obviously pastors solve a lot of problems, not just their own but a lot of other people’s problems are creatives.  And so, it think sometimes we don’t necessarily understand what that means and how that affects us, we don’t understand how the dynamics of creating on-demand, day-after-day-after-day, week-after-week affects us.  And that’s what we get into trouble because we’re not building practices that sustain us, because we don’t realize that anytime we have to create for a living – it takes something out of us.  When we put that much of ourselves into something, it requires something in return.  And, so I think pastors don’t think of themselves that way and they definitely need to be thinking about building practices to make them more effective, because they are unquestionably creatives.

Do YOU consider YOURSELF a creative?  Are your practices sustainable?

Want a copy of The Accidental Creative for yourself?  I will be giving away a copy of The Accidental Creative to a random commentor on Wednesday, August 24, 2011 at noon eastern time.  All you have to do is leave a comment, and share the link to this page on facebook or twitter.



About the Author: Matt Steen

I love Jesus, Theresa (my wife), the Redskins & Capitals, and am currently living in Waco, Texas where I am studying the finer points of BBQ (while working on my MDiv and MBA at Baylor University). When not studying, I serve church leaders through and am the Director of Connections for Harris Creek Baptist Church's Downtown Campus.

  • Chet

    Interesting concept, being a creative.  Makes sense to me.  I will be watching for the next posts.

  • Steven

    I’ll take a free book please!

    • Matt Steen

      of course you will.

  • David Lerner

    I think that it takes creativity to do a lot more things in the world than just what’s in the artistic world.  It seems like a lot of folks are creatives and don’t even realize it, or else wouldn’t classify themselves as such, but are creatives nonetheless.  I look forward to the rest of the interview…

    • Matt Steen

      It took a while for me to get to the point where I feel comfortable considering myself creative… I think we do the word a disservice by boxing it in the “artistic” category.

  • Justin Holcomb

    I LOVE free books!!! Coming to Atlanta anytime soon?

    • Matt Steen

      October at the latest…  we will have to get together!

  • Pwbotzler

    I’m trying to think of a creative post,….got nothing.

    Perhaps, I should read the book…

  • Anonymous

    I really like what I’ve read about the book so far and I really resonate with Todd’s concept here.  I too never considered myself to be creative in the artistic sense (the real creatives :) but my type of creativity has always been one of my assets in life and ministry.  Looking forward to reading this at some point – catch you soon.

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