Jesus told his disciples: “There was a rich man whose manager was accused of wasting his possessions. So he called him in and asked him, ‘What is this I hear about you? Give an account of your management, because you cannot be manager any longer.’
“The manager said to himself, ‘What shall I do now? My master is taking away my job. I’m not strong enough to dig, and I’m ashamed to beg— I know what I’ll do so that, when I lose my job here, people will welcome me into their houses.’
“So he called in each one of his master’s debtors. He asked the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’
“‘Nine hundred gallons of olive oil,’ he replied.
“The manager told him, ‘Take your bill, sit down quickly, and make it four hundred and fifty.’
“Then he asked the second, ‘And how much do you owe?’
“‘A thousand bushels of wheat,’ he replied.
“He told him, ‘Take your bill and make it eight hundred.’
“The master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly. For the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light. I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings. Luke 16: 1-9
Ever get in trouble? Maybe you were asked to do something and you didn’t quite do it the way you knew you were supposed to? Maybe you needed to get creative to solve your problem?
In the scripture from John, a manager gets yelled at by his boss for being wasteful with his boss’ possessions. The manager needed to act fast to try to keep his job or find himself another situation in case he got fired. So he got creative and started cutting the debts of those who owed his boss. This served a dual purpose: it made the manager look like a shrewd businessman and put him in better standing with the debtors so perhaps he could call on them in the future to help him out.
It’s kind of like rushing around to do your chores 5 minutes before your mom (or husband) gets home even though you had all afternoon to complete them. Not that I’ve ever done that.
Recently I was crafting a children’s sermon around this very parable. It’s a heavy topic to try and cover with a handful of elementary school kids in a 10 minute time frame, so I turned to my favorite teaching tool: popular children’s books.
In the story The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt, Duncan is confronted with a similar conundrum: his crayons aren’t happy and are about to quit. Each color writes down his or her grievances: Grey is tired of having to cover so much territory on elephants and humpback whales, Blue is flattered to be Duncan’s favorite color, but he is becoming too small and stubby, Pink is indignant about being underutilized and accuses Duncan of thinking she’s only a “girl’s color”, and Yellow and Orange want Duncan to settle once and for all which one of them is the real color of the sun, and Black wishes to be used for more than just the outline of things.
Poor Duncan just wants to color, but he wants to please everyone. So using the feedback he received from his crayons, he bends the rules a bit and colors a masterpiece with pink dragons, grey penguins, blue crocodiles, orange whales, and a yellow sky. He receives an A+ for creativity.
Being a follower of Jesus requires us to get creative sometimes, to color outside of the lines, to expand our palette, to listen, and to not give up when things get hard by using the unique gifts God has given us, even if that means doing things in a new way. And hopefully in doing so we can leave this world a little more colorful than we found it.
Insight and inspiration
1 Corinthians 12:4-11
God’s various gifts are handed out everywhere; but they all originate in God’s Spirit. God’s various ministries are carried out everywhere; but they all originate in God’s Spirit. God’s various expressions of power are in action everywhere; but God himself is behind it all. Each person is given something to do that shows who God is: Everyone gets in on it, everyone benefits. All kinds of things are handed out by the Spirit, and to all kinds of people! The variety is wonderful: wise counsel, clear understanding, simple trust, healing the sick, miraculous acts, proclamation, distinguishing between spirits, tongues, interpretation of tongues. All these gifts have a common origin, but are handed out one by one by the one Spirit of God. He decides who gets what, and when.
How does being a follower of Jesus make you more creative? In what ways does Jesus’ teachings stretch you? Are you using your gifts creatively?