Swimming In Mud

I’m always trying to figure out what the enemies of creativity are, and these past six weeks have helped me identity another enemy with great clarity. The enemy of creativity is lack of margin in my life.

Lack of margin.

I know. You were expecting something way deeper, way more I’ve-never-considered-that-one-before-thank-God-for-Gary’s-wisdom.

I haven’t been very public about what’s happening in my life right now, and I have many reasons for that. But recently, my dear friend and worship pastor (Pat Callahan) has been called into ministry as a Senior Pastor. So a few weeks ago, Pat announced that he’d be moving to Arkansas, to lead an amazing church.

I knew that this was probably going to happen, and God had been preparing me for it. So it was an easy to decision for me to step up into the interim, and do something to help.

So I’ve volunteered to become my church’s Creative Director. 

My church will flip the traditional model on its head, and put together a paid team of tech people, musical directors, and part-time worship leaders of all ages. I will lead this Creative Team (I’ve already hired for all the positions, so please don’t ask for a job). I will volunteer my time, mostly in weekly meetings, behind the scenes dream sessions, and some occasional on-stage stuff. I’ll preach a little too.

When we all put our heads together, we decided that – rather than hiring a full-time guy and telling him to put a volunteer team of artists together – we’d hire a team of artists, and ask a volunteer guy (me) to lead them. It’s upside-down, and just crazy enough to work brilliantly.

So I’m juggling the ongoing leadership of Floodgate Productions and Floodgate Creative, while also serving as the Creative Director of my very large church.

And I feel like I haven’t had a good creative idea in six weeks.

I haven’t even wanted to create.


At all.

So this is where I turn the story toward something that feels happy, or clappy, or sweet. This is where I give you three principles for getting out of the dry times. I really want to turn this into a story with a happy ending for you. But I feel God telling me to write from the middle, not from the end. I feel Him telling me to confess.

In case you’ve never admitted it openly, so much of the creative life is filled with seasons like the one I’m in – seasons that feel forced, coerced, even fake. And it seems like the only stories you hear are from creative leaders who are at the end of their dry seasons, looking back. They’ve somehow emerged on the other side, and now can guide you through a helpful process toward freedom. And that’s all good. But it seems like we never hear stories from creative leaders who are CURRENTLY in the middle of being overworked, under-nourished, and in need of a long nap.

So I hope that, in some weird God-ordained way, my very current story ministers to your own overworked soul.

My life will become less detail-driven soon, because I’ll bring that into reality. I’ll establish firm margins in my life, and people will be disappointed when that happens because I won’t respond to every email and every need, and I’ll be just fine with that.

So through tears and desperate cries, I’m really excited about what God is doing in my life right now.  But I need to do nothing for a week. And the amazing thing is that, during that nothing-week, the creative ideas will once again be birthed, and will begin to come into reality through my art. It always happens that way.

But until then, I’m swimming in mud.

And I’m good with that.


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Posted in Art and Media, Church.
  • http://www.mikebone.net Mike Brennan

    See, that’s why I have so much respect for you. Thanks for your transparency!

    • http://www.garymo.com/ Gary Molander

      Thanks Mike! I really appreciate that. Sorry I missed you in PA this past week.

  • http://www.heynickjones.tumblr.com Nick Jones

    Gary, I lurk way too much here without commenting, but I’m in the same place right now, and thankful you decided to post this.

    • http://www.garymo.com/ Gary Molander

      Dude – I’m a complete lurker on so many sites without commenting! Let’s pray for each other. Probably the best thing we can do. Thanks for your honesty, your heart, and the amazing art you create.

  • http://www.jasonvana.com Jason Vana

    I’m kind of in swimming in the mud right now as well. There is a lot calling for my leadership skills, that even posting on my blog regularly has been forced – and even skipped. I’m looking forward to Christmas break when the student sleaze and I get a few weeks off from my ministry work.

    • http://www.garymo.com/ Gary Molander

      Jason – You’re introducing the leadership component to this discussion, which is HUGE. If you’re an artist/leader, then fighting for margin becomes even more critical. I’m pretty much the worst of sinners here.

      • http://www.jasonvana.com Jason Vana

        I’m learning that very lesson myself, Gary. The more I take on as a leader, the more I need to fight for my margin.

  • Leigh Ann Sharp

    Absolutely 100% truth here. This happens to me near the end of every summer. Donald Miller said not too long ago that you can’t swing at every ball. You choose which ones to hit and which ones to let pass you by. I think about that often, and it gives me courage to “not do.” I believe creativity is like a goldfish. It grows to fit the size of the tank you give it, and no more. Thus the crucial and hugely-difficult task of creating space in your life so that creativity can flourish.

    • http://www.garymo.com/ Gary Molander

      Excellent thoughts and perspective Leigh Ann. Thanks for sharing your heart with the readers here (and with me personally).