Passing Along God’s Gift

Tom Arthur

While I was growing up, Dad had an old Canon AE1 camera with all kinds of interchangeable lenses and flashes. He would take the camera to sporting events and, with a huge zoom lens, would snap incredible action shots that made you feel as if you were right in the middle of the game. It was an awesome camera, and I loved the pictures Dad created.

Following in my dad’s footsteps, I decided to take a photography class while I was in college. My dad loaned me his AE1. I loved the class so much that I took every other photography class my school offered. The creativity fostered in those classes kept me sane throughout college.


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Another creative outlet I had in college was leading a boys club in the projects on the south side of Chicago. I needed to be creative to organize a bunch of college students to go down to the projects each week and to come up with something to do with the kids once we got there.

I got to know quite well a couple of the young men at the boys club, and I decided to mix up my two creative outlets. One day, I brought my camera to the projects with me, and I gave the boys a chance to take pictures of their lives from their perspective. On another day, I invited my young friends to come to my college portrait studio to take portraits of each other. When we were done, we developed and printed the film, a side of photography the boys had never experienced. Those two days were eye-opening for all of us, and we produced a lot of creative images.



The Creativity Circle

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As I think back on this creative act, I see a kind of completed circle. My dad gave me the chance to be creative by showing me the fun in taking pictures and by lending me his camera. I passed that joy on to other children and loaned them my dad’s camera (supervised, of course) so that they could learn how to create images.

Actually, the circle is even larger. In the beginning was God’s creative act (Genesis 1–2). God enjoyed creating. At the end of each creative day, God stepped back to survey the work and declared, “It’s good!” Then God created humanity in God’s image and declared, “Now that’s what I’m talking about!” Part of what it means to be made in the image of God is receiving this gift of creativity and the joy that comes from creating.

God gave my dad the desire to create. My dad gave me the desire to create. I passed on the desire to two boys. I like to think that our shared creativity helped open their eyes to something beyond the projects. I hope it gave them a chance to see that they could be creative too. Most of all, I hope it gave them a little insight into the joy our Creator felt in creating each one of us.



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What do you like to create—pictures, videos, drawings, food, scrapbooks, websites, plays, songs, gardens? Think of two or three younger kids to whom you can pass on your knowledge, love, and joy of creating. Offer to spend a day teaching and mentoring them in creativity. You’ll live out the image of God in you by sharing creation with someone else.


Tom Arthur is the pastor of Sycamore Creek Church in Lansing, Michigan, and the proud new father of a son, Micah.

—from devozine (March/April 2012). Copyright © 2012 by The Upper Room. All rights reserved.

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