Lifehacker recently had an entry about how organization fosters creativity. A key quotation:

Organization is in part about being prepared for the moment when insight strikes. It’s about creating the conditions for creativity to flourish, so that when you enter into creation mode, your physical world is set up to support you. Being organized also creates the mental order that many people need to be able to put aside mundane things and enter a creative head-space.

This is so true. We so often think of creativity as being this serendipitous, spontaneous moment of inspiration. In truth, creativity is the byproduct of dedicated work. As Thomas Edison said, genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. I read some songwriting stuff a few years back and every successful songwriter echoed the same message: songwriting is a craft. It’s not something that just comes to you. You need to work at it so that you’re prepared for inspiration. That’s true whether you’re a Christian songwriter or not.

Personally, I think the same is true for the Holy Spirit. I sometimes hear people say that they’ll “just let the Spirit move” as a synonym for not planning or organizing. I don’t think that’s how the Spirit works, as described in Scripture and in real life.

I can think of only one passage where Scripture says to intentionally not plan in order to let the Spirit work, in Mark 13:11 – “Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit.”

Balanced against that are, I think, many verses that say that there must be planning, foresight, and organization. I think 1 Corinthians 14 sums it up best. It describes how certain spiritual gifts (e.g. speaking in tongues and prophecy) should be practiced in the church, and Paul proscribes order: “everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way.” (1 Cor. 14:39). Organization.

I found this random video from WorshipGod 2009 on Youtube and the speakers make the same point, more bluntly: “If your understanding of the personal work of the Holy Spirit doesn’t involve or include planning, then you’re… dumb.”

And from what I’ve seen, people and organizations most in tune with the Holy Spirit spend a lot of time planning. My dad, when he prays for someone’s healing, spends a bunch of time in preparation before he even starts to pray. Jieun’s mom seems to prepare a lot for her prayer sessions as well.

To be sure, there is a type of planning that can interfere with the Holy Spirit, just like slavish devotion to a plan can stifle creativity. Planning doesn’t guarantee the Spirit, and inflexible planning can quench him. But even though that’s true, in my view, it’s a fallacy to therefore think that the Holy Spirit moves better when we don’t plan. As far as I’ve seen, the opposite is true. Good, proper planning helps make us ready for when the Spirit moves.

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