Kimberly Reisman ~ Caught Not Taught

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I come from a long line of artists. My grandfather was an artist, my mother is an artist, and my sister is an artist. I am NOT an artist. I enjoy making jewelry, but it would be a huge stretch to call what I do art.

I’m convinced my sister stole my artistic gene. She paints and creates pottery. She works with metal and textiles. She has more creativity in her little finger than I have in my whole body. I say that with both awe and joy.

After spending a few days with my mother and sister, I was reminded of a wonderful truth. Particular talents may be genetic, but creativity is contagious. When I’m around my sister and mother, I catch their creativity. I haven’t made a new piece of jewelry in months, but when I returned home I had a burst of creative energy. I was excited to reconnect with my love of jewelry making.

The reminder that creativity is contagious points to a deeper truth: human beings are all together contagious. Everything about us is contagious, and people are going to catch whatever it is we have.

That’s profound.

People are going to catch whatever it is we have.

They’ll catch life from us, or they’ll catch death from us; there is nothing in between. Most of us think we’re neutral, but there is no such thing as a neutral person. We will be a source of blessing or a source of curse.

Here’s a related truth: I can only infect other people with whatever it is that I have. I can’t give away what I don’t have. My sister and mother give away creativity because they have it in abundance. They’ve cultivated that in their own lives so giving it away is as natural as breathing.

But if I’m not healthy, how can I give health? If I don’t accept myself, how can I give self-acceptance? If I can’t kick demons out of my own life, how am I ever going to help somebody else kick the demons out of theirs?

If I’m not emotionally and spiritually available to the people around me, what are they going to catch?

We can’t give what we don’t have.

One of the most common mistakes we make is to believe we can teach Christian faith, but Christian faith isn’t taught, it’s caught. Yes, there is a place for sound teaching, but more often than not, people come to faith because of the contagious way others live—because they have encountered someone who lives with an openness that allows God’s Holy Spirit the freedom to move infectiously and contagiously.

Jesus reminds us that if we keep a seed in our hands and clutch it with a closed fist, it will never grow. We must open our hands and let go of the seed. The problem is that many of us are living with closed hands. When we live like that, nothing can grow either within us or within others.

My husband and I had a picnic lunch by a pond when our son was about two years old. We told our son not to eat all his bread. After lunch, we gave it to him to feed the ducks. He was confused because there were no ducks in sight, but within moments, he was surrounded. The ducks came out of nowhere when he opened his hand and let go of his bread.

Each of us has the power to bless and the power to curse. We can live with open hands or closed fists. Each of us also lives with what we caught from someone else, and others will live with what they have caught from us.

The question is, What will they catch?

 

This article originally appeared at www.gospel-life.net.

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Kimberly Reisman is an author, pastor, teacher and theologian serving as Executive Director of World Methodist Evangelism of the World Methodist Council. Prior to beginning at WME, Kim served in local churches, as Executive Director of Next Step Evangelism and General Editor for WesleyanAccent.com. She is a frequent speaker, focusing on evangelism, spiritual formation, women’s ministries, leadership development and the intersection between faith and culture. Kim is an elder in the United Methodist Church and has written numerous books, most recently, The Christ-Centered Woman: Finding Balance in a World of Extremes (2013, Abingdon Press). Kim is also an Adjunct Professor at United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio, and The School of Theology at Seattle Pacific University in Seattle, Washington.

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