The Sincerest Form Of Flattery

When we strum chords to accompany the song in our hearts, or sand a tabletop to release the wood’s beauty, or write a story that echoes God’s, I expect He’d call that the sincerest form of flattery.
on Jan 23, 2013 · No comments

Screen shot 2013-01-22 at 3.12.41 PM“Creativity is an act of rebellion,” declared a quote I recently read.

I suppose there’s some truth to that, if the creativity is a blatant attempt to improve upon God’s handiwork. (Good luck with that, by the way.)

Or to invalidate God’s authority, like the serpent in his conversation with Eve the garden. That might be what he said, but what he really meant was… (As if God’s commands aren’t clear and we need a snake to interpret?)

On the other hand: a child will naturally copy his parents. Whether it’s eating with a spoon or hammering a nail or driving a car—or mimicking our less attractive attributes—our children will observe and imitate.

Not even the pushiest mom expects her first-year piano student to master a Bach fugue. We don’t insist our eight-year-old shoot free throws like his old man. But few things warm our parental hearts more than seeing our children loving what we love, doing what we do, striving for what we strive for.child with toys

Isn’t that a reflection of the Father’s love? When, moved by the glory of a sunrise, we run to get our easel and oils, the result can never rival the grandeur of the original; but I doubt God sees it as rebellion. When we strum chords to accompany the song in our hearts, or sand a tabletop to release the wood’s beauty, or write a story that echoes His, I expect He’d call that the sincerest form of flattery.

He might even call it worship.

Our God has given us some pretty cool gifts. Why wouldn’t He want us to play with them? We have senses for observing, minds for contemplating, imaginations for creating. Why wouldn’t our Father want us to dump them out and scatter them around and see how they fit together?

When I became discouraged with writing in 2006, I made up my mind to quit. Then one of our pastors mentioned a book he was reading that moved him. He commented that, although it was the mere writing of man, not Spirit-inspired scripture, God used it to strengthen his faith. I doubt if anyone else in the church remembers him saying this, but his next words still echo in my mind: If God made you a writer, please write.

God made me a writer. If I didn’t use this creative gift, wouldn’t that be an act of rebellion?

Yvonne Anderson writes fiction that takes you out of this world. Her first novel, The Story in the Stars, debuted in June 2011 and is an ACFW Carol Award finalist in the Speculative Fiction category. Her second, Words in the Wind, released August 1, 2012. Two additional titles will complete this Gateway to Gannah series. She is contest administrator for Novel Rocket's Launch Pad Contest for unpublished novelists. You may follow her wise words on the blog YsWords, or find her on Facebook or Twitter.
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  1. Bethany J. says:

    Lovely post!  Thank you for the writing inspiration today. 🙂

  2. Johne Cook says:

    I think the language is important. What are you rebelling against? I’d agree if you said creativity is an act of rebellion against the status quo, against business-as-usual, against falling into a rut. Creativity in that sense is swimming against the stream and doing something different (not unlike breaking off from the herd and finding the narrow gate). 
    Using other language, I think there is one Creation, God’s creativity, literally making something out of nothing, and everything do is Invention inside God’s Creation. In that sense, our Invention isn’t rebellion, it is mimicking God’s burst of originality with our own efforts to make something new, something uniquely our own, and I think that honors God. 

    • Lauren says:

      That was my initial reaction as well — that creativity (exactly in the terms that Yvonne describes it)  is a form of rebellion. By using our writing to glorify God, we’re rebelling against many of the “norms” in culture and in modern literature.
      Rebellion is not necessarily a bad thing, although it seems to have picked up that connotation.  I think all fiction writers rebel in their own way, not against God, but against, as Johne suggests, the humdrum of everyday existence. In speculative fiction, especially, aren’t we asking the “What if?” questions? What if animals could talk? What if there were life on another planet? What if dragons were real?
      I think that creativity is rebellion, but it is worship as well.
      Thanks for the thought-provoking post!

  3. Thanks, Bethany!
    And also, thanks Johne – and I agree with you concerning both things you brought up: 1) the “rebellion” of creativity isn’t necessarily against God; and 2) we can’t create anything (as in, something from nothing) but can only use what God has given us.
    The fact is, I don’t know the context of the original quote. It could very well have referred to rebellion against the status quo, as you suggested. My response was based on my initial reaction to seeing the statement in a tweet. I replied to the tweeter (“Possibly — or is it worship?”) but got no response, and I didn’t pursue it further.
    Interesting side-thought: if creativity is rebellion against the status quo, could compliance with the norm be considered worship of it?

    • Lauren says:


      Interesting side-thought: if creativity is rebellion against the status quo, could compliance with the norm be considered worship of it?

      WOW! I had never thought of it that way before. I think you’re absolutely right. Definitely food for thought, both in writing and in everyday life.

  4. Galadriel says:

    Have you read the passage on this in On-Fairy Stories by Tolkien or a similar passage with Aule and the Dwarves in the Silmarillion? I don’t feel like getting up to find the book right now, but it’s 
    Yet the making of things is in my heart from my own making by thee; and the child of little understanding that makes a play of the deeds of his father may do so without thought of mockery, but because he is the son of his father.

  5. Wow, the pastor really said that? Talk about God sending you a message direct. 🙂
    Yeah, I’m not sure who creativity is rebelling against, aside from maybe our culture, which worships all things ugly. I guess it just depends on the spirit of your rebelling.
    There’s also the counter-quote, and I forget who it’s from: “Let the excellence of your work be your protest.” If I remember correctly, someone said it to Michael Card, who pinned it to the wall where he could see it every day.

  6. Cathie Adams says:

    I remember the former pastor saying that, Yvonne.  I intend to write my thoughts, fiction, and poetry until my last breath.  However, I’m not sure the rest of the world wants to read what I write.  Time will tell if an editor wants to share my words of creativity with anyone else.  (LOL)

    • Good – if you remember it too, Cathie, then I didn’t just imagine it! As Kessie said, it’s not often you get something that direct and pointed from the pulpit.
      Funny thing is, I later read the book that inspired him so (Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller) and I didn’t much care for it.

  7. Very interesting, provocative post!  I linked to this from my Facebook account.  Thanks for the encouragement and spurring an equally interesting discussion!

What do you think?