We talked in this week's teaching about how Nehemiah was able to accomplish his wall-building project in Jerusalem despite being limited and constrained in many ways. We asked whether maybe the way forward for us to accomplish what God has put on our hearts is not breaking 'out of the box', but rather learning to work 'inside the box'. As the creative director and writer JJ Abrams says, perhaps surprisingly, 'I find that I am most happy when I have boundaries.' Similarly, Theo Epstein, President of the recent MLB World Series winners, the Chicago Cubs (as if you didn't know), constructed what he called the 'Cubs' way' - a guiding set of principles that they would not depart from, boundaries if you want. Some people might view this as constraining but Abrams and Epstein seem to think that boundaries, guidelines, and limitations can be a good thing. Drew Boyd and Jacob Goldenberg, in their book Inside the Box argue that whilst some people see constraints as frustrating, overwhelming, or strict boundaries that limit creativity, actually constraints are a key component of creativity, 'Your brain works harder and smarter when given tight boundaries. The more constrained you are, the more creative you’ll be.' They note that the only thing that needs to change is our own ability to see the opportunity in the situation we are in rather than to be governed by a fixed way of thinking.
We saw that this was part of the genius of Nehemiah. He was able to see his own constraining situation as an opportunity to leverage what he understood to be God's intention for his city, Jerusalem. He didn't have a fixedness regarding the limitations of his role, instead his complaint at the state of the city wall allowed him to become a change agent for God.
What are our fixed issues that we think prevent us from really seeing the opportunity to serve God. Are you able to look creatively at your situation and see what could be? Do you have the imagination to see beyond the fixed way we tend to think things work. As Michael Gorman wrote recently,
'In the spirit of conformity to Jesus, the church in the power of the Spirit must look again and again for new ways to love the world incarnationally and cruciformly in the interest of the world’s salvation. To be missional requires immense imagination.'