Innovation can be defined simply as a new method, idea or product. You were made to innovate for the fulfillment of your own soul and for the betterment of the masses.
The theme verse of one Christian school this year is, “May your Kingdom come and your will be done on Earth as it is in heaven.”
With a team of dedicated women, I facilitated discussion around the topic of innovation yesterday in a junior high classroom. I asked, “Who likes problems?” and no hands went up. I asked students to list the problems they see in the world, the “Not rights” and the “Unjusts.” Answers varied from slavery to trafficking to poverty to illness. Yes, God, may your Kingdom come.
Problems in the world can be devastating, but problems give purpose and purpose is what tantalizes the human spirit. God takes the dearth of problems and sends sparks of revival through His problem solving innovators.
In the classroom, I asked which students believe they are creative and only a few hands flung into the air. Creativity is simply defined as “Having or showing an ability to make new things or think new ideas.” Every person is divvied some creative juices and unique interests at birth so they can accomplish their purpose, solve problems, bring the Kingdom, and live fulfilled. The human brain is stimulated by new experiences and thoughts, we are drawn to them, and when we see, think, experience or express something novel, we open the floodgates for the happy rivers of dopamine to trail the crevasses of our brain channels. We anticipate something good to come from the new experience – we are actually wired to hope for positive change, if we are willing to think new. People who routinely think new thoughts and do new things increase their capacity for brain change and effective learning.
In our culture, in a typical junior high school classroom I asked the students what things might hold them back from using their creativity for solving problems that interest them in the world? What might keep them from being motivated?
First, they acknowledged the need to believe they have something to offer. They are people of worth with much to contribute to the world. One group strongly pointed to jealousy as a barrier to problem-solvers, even within this small city classroom. Jealousy snuffs, stifles, sucks life and stomps on dreams.
Teens are in major development and their ideas are wonder-marked, but remarkably fragile. Charles Bower says, “A new idea is delicate. It can be killed by a sneer or a yawn; it can be stabbed to death by a quip and worried to death by a frown on the right man’s brow.” – Charles Bower
Jealousy and judgment kills new thinking in playpens, classrooms, streets, busses, planes, businesses, and in our homes and organizations. Near the end of our time in the classroom, I dared the group to hope. What if each one became unswervingly committed to stomping out jealousy and committed to unreservedly appreciating, encouraging and reinforcing the interests and uniqueness of the people around them. What the somber sneers and yawns became celebratory cheers. Oh, would confidence grow, and purposes penetrate people.
Practicing purpose living is hard, and I admire my colleagues who do it. This week I listened to two incredible teachers as they talked of late nights they spent designing final assessments that were engaging, fun, creative and authentic. Heather created a complicated escape room for an English assessment that required students to know and apply all kinds of knowledge and learning outcomes. Stacey had her math students build amazing little treasures just to scale with pages of calculations for one little cardboard creation. I watched them build, dream, design and finish their measured products with great delight and pleasure. Their sleepless nights and inventive work matters, because there are problems in the world waiting for courageous new thoughts to emerge, for God’s Kingdom to come.