Holy Margin

How to create space for new and innovative ideas.

Fear. Noise. Distraction. Consumption. Tradition.

These are just some of the words that come to mind when I think about leadership and, specifically, what prevents leaders from moving forward with innovation.

Too often, we neglect to take risks because we are afraid, or because we haven’t done research concerning an interesting topic.

Sometimes, our lack of innovation is a result of our constant consumption. We are not inspired. We cannot think deeply about issues because we are constantly being told what, not how, to think. Our phones, the internet, the news and social media are all in constant rotation and often at the same time. Our lives are consumed with noise, and we are too easily distracted.

Occasionally, particularly within Christian organizations, tradition tells us how to perform. Our performance is directly connected to our perceived maturity, so we don’t take risks because we are more concerned about how people will respond to us instead of considering who God is calling us to become, or imagining the type of innovative leader we could be. What if we fail?

We don’t give ourselves permission to sit, rest, listen, play or dream.

When we as leaders are stuck in the mundane details of spiritual performance, and are consumed with what others might think, we are actually quenching the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives and in the lives of those we are called to lead. Taking risks to trust God and be innovative is actually more difficult and requires a deeper level of faith than maintaining business as usual.

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There would have been no saving of humanity if Noah had not built a big boat before rain ever touched the earth. There would have been no 12 tribes of Israel if Abraham had not believed God and journeyed with his family to a foreign land. The Israelites would not have gotten to the Promised Land without Moses believing God for a better way of life. That’s motivation available to us in just the first two books of the Bible. In the beginning, God first reveals himself to us as the Creator, and we are created in his image. Therefore, we must create.

God wants us to bear his image through our curiosity, innovation and dreams. Here are three ways to cultivate innovative practices in your personal life and in the presence of your leadership team.

1. Create space for creativity. What does your workspace look like? Is there color? How about lighting or art? Might you occasionally welcome poetry or music into this space? Do you always work inside? Why not move the furniture, give the place a face-lift or brainstorm on an afternoon walk?

2. Create space for solitude and silence. Our brains need time to rest. This is the beauty and gift of the Sabbath. Practice it and give others the freedom to do so as well.

3. Create space for dreaming with the people that you love. Turn off the phone and internet to create opportunities to focus and dream together. Then cheer each other on, celebrate the small and big wins, and hold each other accountable to all of the ways that you have agreed to trust God together.

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