The Spiritual Nature of Creativity
It’s great to be with you today. I am a graduate of LDS Business College, and I really enjoyed my time here, and enjoyed the atmosphere. It was nice to be in a smaller classroom than some of those that were the classrooms I had at the University of Utah. So I really enjoyed the atmosphere and the education I received here.
From Moses 3:4-5 we read, “And now, behold, I say unto you, that these are the generations of the heaven and the earth, when they were created, in the day that I, the Lord God, made the heaven and the earth,
“And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew. For I, the Lord God, created all things, of which I have spoken, spiritually, before they were naturally upon the face of the earth.” From this scripture we come to know that everything was created by the Lord spiritually before it was created temporally.
I believe that this concept of the spiritual creation has a broad application beyond that of God’s creation of the plants and animals. I believe the concept of spiritual creativity extends to every aspect of our existence. In ways that we do not fully understand the physical world, I believe, is subservient to our spiritual direction through our dominate thoughts, imaginations and desires of our hearts. A “can do” or “can’t do” attitude actually brings about a physical manifestation of those thoughts and beliefs, whether positive or negative. God placed within us the seeds of this great power of spiritual creation, which through our agency can be used for good or evil.
This power becomes even more pronounced in the like-thinking of groups of his children—for good, as in the case of the City of Enoch: “And the Lord called his people Zion, because they were of one heart and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness” (Moses 7:18) —and also for evil, as related in Genesis 11:6-7, when God, seeing a people united to build the Tower of Babel, upset the power of their synergistic thought and purpose which is related as follows: “Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.
“Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.”
One of the classic stories from the scriptures of how the Lord leads us along through this process of inspired spiritual creation is that of the brother of Jared (see Ether 2 & 3). Herein, Jared and his people are facing a formidable challenge—that of crossing the vast ocean to the Promised Land. The Lord directed the brother of Jared to build barges following his specific instructions, well suited for the difficult journey ahead. But when the barges were finished, Jared noticed a problem he did not know how to overcome—that of having light inside the vessels. He took this problem to the Lord, and rather than answering his question directly, the Lord desired the brother of Jared to go through the growth process of coming up with another solution. As the windows and fire in the vessels was out of the question, the brother of Jared came up with another solution to the problem, but for his solution to work, he needed the Lord’s help.
The brother of Jared went to work and did what he was capable of doing; molting sixteen small, glass-like stones out of a rock. He then took these stones to the Lord, asking that he touch the stone with His finger that “they may shine forth…unto us in the vessels which we have prepared, that we may have light while we shall cross the sea.
“Behold. O Lord, thou canst do this” (Ether 3:4-5). We all know the miracle that transpired with the Lord’s honoring the brother of Jared’s faith-based request, as the Lord stretched forth His hand and touched the stones one-by-one, the veil being taken from off the brother of Jared’s eyes wherein he was privileged to see “the finger of the Lord” and the marvelous vision that followed.
A wonderful illustration of what is possible with the Lord’s help when we combine righteous desires with faith utilizing the creative powers God has given each of us. Likewise, we see many applications of the principle of spiritual creation in everyday life. This building in which we are meeting today began as an inspired idea in the mind of someone, who then conveyed his dream first to designers and engineers to translate his concept into architectural drawings; then to builders and craftsmen who with hard work transformed what was once just a dream into the physical reality of a beautiful and functional building.
During the time the LDS conference center was being designed, I understand President Hinckley took an active role working with the architects in communicating concepts of what he had seen in “vision” into the beautiful and amazing “reality” that building is today. A similar process was followed to bring Brigham Young’s inspired vision of the Salt Lake Temple and Tabernacle into reality during their design and construction.
Also from Ether 3:15-16, the Lord told the Brother of Jared, “Seest thou that ye are created after mine own image? Yea, even all men were created in the beginning after mine own image.
“Behold, this body, which ye now behold, is the body of my spirit; and…even as I appear unto thee to be in the spirit will I appear unto my people in the flesh.” We were all created in the image and likeness of God.
I believe as part of being created in God’s image that we were also created to develop the gifts and talents within us to help us become like our Savior Jesus Christ who is the great creator of heaven and earth and all things in them. In the beginning we see, think, and then do. As an example of this, I have a grandson named Carter. He is six months old. When he first came home from the hospital he was trying to see the world around him. He later began to thrust his arms and hands out to touch things. Now he sits up by himself and holds objects in his hands and moves them about, studying them again and again. He also looks around the room at everyone entering and studies their every move.
In our schooling years we develop interests and talents. Some draw for hours and hours and others play an instrument. Some may be interested in science and others in history. Some love to sing and others love sports. I believe that in addition to our natural desire to develop certain talents and skills that the Spirit of Christ plays a role in our successful pursuit of these talents and skills.
From the Doctrine and Covenants 84:46 we read: “And the Spirit giveth light to every man that cometh into the world; and the Spirit enlighteneth every man through the world, that harkeneth to the voice of the Spirit.” From this scripture we learn that everyone is given the Spirit of Christ. As we grow and follow the Spirit of Christ we will find creative answers and solutions. As members of the Church we also have the Holy Ghost as a constant companion that will reveal truth. Truth is important to creation because truth is the knowledge of things as they are, as they were and as they will be. The Holy Ghost and the Spirit of Christ will only give us direction if we are seeking the spirit by prayer, scripture study and by keeping the commandments.
Christ indicated how important it was for us to develop our talents as indicated in Matthew 25:14-24:
“For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods.
“And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey.
“Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents,
“And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two.
“But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord’s money.
“After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them.
“And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliverest unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more.
“His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.
“He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them.
“His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.
“Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed:
“And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine.
“His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed:
“Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury.
“Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents.
“For unto everyone that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.
“And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping [and wailing] and gnashing of teeth.”
The servant that had five talents traded to gain five more and the servant that had two talents traded to gain two more. I am sure that the creative process was employed in gaining these additional talents. These two servants took the talents and skills they possessed and expanded from them to create a better benefit to their lord and thus they were rewarded to become a ruler of many things and accepted into the joy of the lord that follows such great accomplishments. The servant who hid his talent or skill was not a contribution to his lord and his lord would have made more of his talent not giving it to anyone. He was therefore cast out of the lord’s presence.
We must become contributors or we will be cast out of the joy that comes by becoming contributing servants of our Lord. The spiritual nature of creativity follows everything we do in life. If we have a family we need to creatively teach and lead our children in the ways of truth and righteousness. Every child is different and we need to be in tune with the Spirit to discover the best creative way to reach and touch a child. In our professional careers there is always a creative way to do things more effectively and productively.
First you need to really get in and learn your job. I have found in most jobs that there is a learning curve. When I was in the cosmetic business, employed as a compounder of cosmetic products, I learned that you always followed the directions on the formula because if you did not sometimes there was some ingredient that might not go into solution properly and the whole batch costing thousands of dollars could be ruined. It was only after making the batch according to the directions and making it successfully that you could look at creative ways of making the batch quicker and better. In finding better ways of compounding cosmetic batches, I became a leader in the cosmetic compounding department and eventually became a formulator of cosmetic products in the lab. I also found that you need to be prepared for the many different ways that creative thoughts can come. Most of my creative thoughts come in the morning and I have learned to go and write them down right after I receive them. Some will come when you are discussing a problem with others.
My friend was having difficulty keeping his bottled water product in the retail stores because of the major beverage companies that were coming out with bottled water and were paying millions to buy out all of the shelf space. We were talking about adding vitamins to water as a way that would make his product unique and different from the typical bottled water on the shelf and I grabbed an extra cover cap to a push-pull water bottle cap and I forced it over an existing cover cap already in place on another water bottle, and that was the beginning of a new product that could store vitamins in a chamber above the water bottle cap. The patent was issued two years later and was called The Separate Container for a Water Bottle. The product that we came out with was called the H2O VitaCap. One device can lead to another, and we also have a patent pending on a plastic chamber placed above any water bottle that by the push of an upper plastic button can tear out the bottom of the chamber to release a vitamin powder into any water bottle.
Once you have disciplined yourself to really learn your job and have lived your life in such a way that the Spirit and the Holy Ghost are your constant companions, then you will have the confidence to look at new and better creative ways to accomplish your job in a more efficient and productive way. Your new creative and productive way of obtaining positive results will then be rewarded by promotions and greater inner joy and satisfaction in a job well done.
In Doctrine and Covenants 58:27-28 we read:
“Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness;
“For the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves. And inasmuch as men do good they shall in nowise lose their reward.”
Here I think the Lord is saying to be engaged in a worthwhile job and do it well. The power is in you to do your job well. Once you have learned your job, use your own free will to make your job better and produce extraordinary results. Sometimes opportunities for significant creative ideas and products can come when you least expect it, but great creators have the vision, determination and dedication to make their vision become a reality.
My dad was a great inventor and entrepreneur. He sold drugs for the Upjohn Company for ten years. He learned his job well and performed well for the company. He also invested well in real estate and uranium stocks. After selling drugs for ten years he decided to go into business for himself and started a new company called Deseret Pharmaceutical with two other former drug salesmen that he knew. As he was visiting a doctor selling some of the new companies’ drugs, he saw a big pile of cloth masks doctors used in their surgery. One doctor was smelling each cloth mask and finally settled on one from the pile. My father asked the doctor, “Would you pay a nickel for a new paper mask you used once and then threw away?” The doctor said yes, and that was the start of a journey that let him through trial and error to find the right people and equipment to manufacture the first paper filter masks for doctors. He discovered that paper filter masks could actually filter out almost all bacteria and the filter masks became the standard in the operating room.
It was not just seeing the need but finding the people, equipment and marshalling the resources to produce the product and make it a reality. Throughout the remainder of his life he could always look back with great satisfaction at this contribution to the medical field. I know that the Spirit of Christ was leading him in his quest to produce this product, and it was leading many other great people that made this product a reality.
One successful creative solution can lead to others. It was not long after the filter mask was being produced than the product idea for the disposable scrub brush was developed for the operating room, which scrubbed and cleaned surgeon’s hands better than methods that were previously being used. Some creative solutions can come by witnessing human suffering and funding ways to lessen it.
One day my dad was visiting a hospital and he happened to see a young woman in a hospital bed with a catheter tube inserted into her arm. He noticed that the needle was stuck into the vein and left taped there in place. This young woman had her arm also taped to a board to keep it straight and immovable. My father could see that it was difficult for her to maintain this position and she seemed to be in real discomfort. He knew there was a better way. He met with some engineers and invented a product that started the catheter feeding tube with a needle into the vein but then withdrew the needle and then left a soft, pliable Teflon tube in the arm so the needed feeding fluids could feed the patient. This alleviated the discomfort of leaving the needle in the arm.
Soon the name Deseret Pharmaceutical was changed to Deseret Medical, because the company quit selling generic drugs and was known for its highly successful disposable medical products. Many other successful medical device companies have developed their roots from the people that made Deseret Medical a success, including my father’s own company Sorenson Research.
I also need to add, my father’s success helped lead to my mother’s success. And her story is she went to a video store to buy CDs for her grandson. He wanted to buy CDs that she didn’t think were appropriate to buy. And then she came home and she saw his little sister dancing around the room to “Phantom of the Opera.” And then she had the idea—that’s when you can reach children. And she developed her Artwork for Kids program, and for the last ten years she has proven that creative thinking actually improves reading, writing and arithmetic. It helps children become more stable. But it was also the success my father had that helped us to form a partnership with the universities and schools to provide funding to train these specialists and the legislature allocated the money to hire the specialists. And so a great need is being fulfilled, but it also came with a great idea.
I know that the Spirit of Christ was behind all of the great discoveries and developments throughout the history of mankind. Perhaps the biggest development in our day came when from a young boy sincerely looking to find the correct church.
When he read the scripture in James 1:5-6—“If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering,”—Joseph Smith said that never did a passage of scripture some with more power into the heart of man than this scripture did at this time into his heart. Joseph Smith needed an answer and the Lord needed someone pure and true to restore the gospel to the earth. This is true with all of our worthwhile pursuits. We need to find an answer to improve and progress, and the Lord needs people he can work with and help provide the answers. We need to live our lives in such a way to qualify for the Spirit of Christ and the companionship of the Holy Ghost in our lives, so that when we are looking for answers and solutions to progress and achieve and make the great contribution that we can make that we will be prepared to receive from the Spirit the correct answer we are seeking.
In this life and throughout the eternities, as we continue to develop these creative abilities in a positive way under the direction of the Spirit, I believe we can eventually become like our Father, “And there is nothing that the Lord thy God shall take into his heart to do but what he will do it” (Abraham 3:17). And I say this in Jesus’ name, amen.