(The following is an abbreviated transcription from a video I recorded with Jordan Raynor. Please excuse any typos or errors.)
Jordan Raynor is a serial entrepreneur best-selling author, and he wrote this book on creativity and God that I’m excited to read to my kids.
It’s a really cool book because as most parents know, you are reading all these books to your kids. They are given as gifts, you buy some and you end up having 50-100 books stacked up.
And to be honest, most of them contain mediocre content that isn’t necessarily something that I want to teach my kids. And it’s like, “eh, it’s not really harming them.”
So when you get a book that actually teaches them a lesson that you’re excited about, it’s really good. Jordan just finished his book “The Creator In You,” and we’re excited to chat with him a little bit about this today.
Now before we get into the details of the book, I recorded our discussion that you can listen to on our Podcast. But, if you would rather read the full transcription, you can do so here in this article!
Wanting more than just mediocre books for our kids
Bob: So Jordan, thank you for taking a few minutes and chatting today, brother.
Jordan: It’s always good to hang out with you, Bob. Thanks for having me.
Bob: All right. So tell us a little bit about your family where you live, you know, just you, your situation. Give us some backstory.
Jordan: Yeah. So I live in beautiful Tampa, Florida with my bride, Cara and our three very young daughters: Ellison who’s seven, Kate who’s five, and Emery who we adopted two years ago.
And, man…, I could totally resonate with what you were saying about children’s books. There’s so many, it’s such a cluttered market. Most of them are mediocre and they’re all cute, but they’re not really inspiring and teaching our kids really big ideas.
Genesis One, from a new perspective
Jordan: And for me, that’s kind of the genesis for this book. I had probably read my kids a dozen books on Genesis One, on the creation account. And they all follow the exact same pattern. God created this on day one. He created that on day 3, 4, 5, 6 the end. And these books drive me bonkers because the sixth day wasn’t the end of creation, it was the beginning.
It’s when God passed the baton us. It’s a go, fill and subdue the earth. And so I wrote “The Creator In You” to help my kids, your kids, the kids of our audience understand this at an early age. It’s essentially a three act play that you will read in three minutes.
Act one is what you see in every other Genesis One book, right? God created in those first six days, but then about a third of the way through the book, it says this. It says, “and now you might think that our story is ending because every other book tells you it’s ending.” But in fact, this is just the beginning because God made you to look like him to act and work and create with him.
And then act three is watching kids respond to that and fill the earth with art and businesses and commerce and tree forts and spaceships and culture. As my kids have really dug into the book, they really enjoyed it. Which has been like so fun for me to watch…
Bob: Yeah, I bet.
Jordan: I’m watching them view everything from art projects around the house, to their homework, to their chores, with just a different level of purpose and joy. Because they now understand that those things are ordained by the God of the Universe.
Bob: Yeah. I love that.
Called to create/work
Bob: The first book I discovered you on was your book “Called To Create.”
Jordan: And now this is the kids’ version of Called To Create, for sure.
Bob: Yeah. And I remember reading your book, it was just such a great book (check out all of our books, too!). And it’s clear that this is part of your life’s message to get out, which I think is such an important one.
Because, you made this statement that work existed before sin. And that’s such an interesting thing I’ve never thought of before. What are your thoughts on that?
God leads by example
Jordan: I think one of the biggest misconceptions in the church today, we believe that work is the curse and that’s not true.
It’s not what we see in Genesis One. First of all, the very first thing, the very first line in scripture is God coming onto the scene as a creator and a worker, right? Work could not possibly have a more exalted inauguration. The God of the universe works. No other religion makes this claim.
Every other religion says that the gods created human beings to do the menial labor in the world and serve the gods. Only Christianity starts with the God who himself works. It’s radical, right?
We are created for creation
Jordan: But he doesn’t finish creation all by himself. He could have created the stars and a telescope in six days, but instead he passed the baton of creation to his kids.
And before there was the great commission in the world, there was the first commission. The call to create. To go take the Garden of Eden and create the garden city, the eternal kingdom of God. And it’s only at Genesis Three when sin enters the world that work is now under the curse. It is difficult. There are thorns and thistles that make our work difficult.
I think we all experience this every day, but work itself it’s not the curse. And the way we really know this is because when we get a picture, an accurate picture of heaven, there’s even work in heaven on the new earth. Isaiah 65 says:
“God’s chosen people will long enjoy the work of their hands.”
We were created, not for luxury, not for leisure, not for consumption, but for creation. And reigning and ruling over this world to be productive.
Right? It’s a radical message.
Finding the work you were created for
Bob: So I spent a lot of years in a job doing work that I didn’t feel gifted for. Didn’t feel gifted at and just struggled. It was just hard because I just didn’t feel gifted for the task and therefore wasn’t good. Even though I worked really hard, I’ve always been a hard worker. But I remember the difficulty of that (how I escaped the rat race). And then contrast that with once I got into some work, doing work that I felt uniquely gifted for, that God had created me for.
And part of that, being a creative part of the work, being a creative process, I mean even like this as we’re doing a podcast and the creation of this, it’s been so fulfilling. It’s been so helpful. But my question, pulling this together is for you.
Having a new perspective
Bob: Have you gone through that? Have you had those seasons like that? Where the process of doing work was a lot less enjoyable.
Bob: And then how do you speak to someone who is dealing with that?
Jordan: Yeah, it’s such a good question. So number one. Yeah, I have had those seasons. I have had those jobs that were just J-O-Bs. I hated them.
Jordan: I wish I had a good theology of work back then, so I could have looked on those jobs, even the bad ones with Thanksgiving. I unfortunately didn’t. But here’s what I would say. The apostle Paul says in Ephesians 2:8-10, that the very purpose of our salvation is to do the quote unquote
“good works that God prepared in advance for us to do.”
So it’s this wild idea that before you were born, God established a specific kind of work for you to do in the world. And the reality is because of sin, a lot of us aren’t doing that work, right? So if you’re in that space, you’re like, this is clearly not what God created me to do. I think there’s a couple of things you could do.
Number one, I think you could recognize that while it’s hard, you have employment, hopefully. And praise the Lord for that. And do that “work heartily as unto the Lord, knowing that there’s a reward for you for doing that job well,” see Colossians 3, right?
Jordan: But number two, it may mean that you’re called to do something else. So while you’re serving your current employer through the ministry of excellence, place some little bets. Like you I’m sure did Bob, outside of the day job to planting seeds.
We’re on the SeedTime podcast. Start planting seeds, and then look around and see which seeds are starting to show signs of fruit. Starting to show signs of this miracle, divine multiplication that Jesus is getting at in The Parable of the Sower. The seeds that are producing fruit, that you cannot explain through your own feeble inputs. And then, as long as it’s economically viable, pour all of your time and money and energy into that thing. Put all of your eggs in that basket.
Bob: Yeah, that’s great.
Jordan: That’s what my story in a lot of ways.
Bob: Yeah. That’s good. So I wanted to kind of jump around here with a few different directions and questions.
There’s so much that is yet to be discovered
Bob: But one thing I was thinking about Linda and I were on a plane the other day. And I don’t know why, but I always like to compare modern 21st century life to the rest of the history of the world and how humans have lived in all the centuries before. And I was having this thought as we’re flying on an airplane and looking down at how everything is in perfect squares, from whatever 40,000 feet 20,000 feet, whatever it is.
And I just had this thought. Prior to the last hundred years or so, no one ever had this view. Like no one was ever able to see this. Which reminded me of something else.
So they’re building these deep sea machines to go down in the ocean and take pictures and stuff. And they still can’t make it all the way to the bottom of the ocean. Yet there’s creatures down there that God created that no one has been able to see.
I mean, literally some of them just weren’t discovered until the last couple of years, because they finally got something a little bit lower and they were able to take a picture of this crazy fish or something down there. But there’s so much more.
So I’m curious, how does that speak to you? Knowing that God created all these things, knowing that the vast majority of humanity would never see it. What are your thoughts on that?
Our infinitely creative God
Jordan: I love this. So to me it means a couple of things. Number one, We worship the infinitely creative God. I was at a butterfly exhibit with my kids the other day. And we were trying to guess as to how many different species of butterflies there are in the world.
We were guessing like 500-1,000. 17,500 species of butterflies. That is needless, purposeless, excessive, extravagant beauty. The God of the Bible, doesn’t just create for function and order. He creates with extravagant, beauty and creativity. And thus, we can too, without having to give an objective justification for everything that we’re doing.
We can never learn everything
Jordan: Here’s the second thing that I make of it though. We can never learn all there is to learn about God. I think there are some people who believe that the moment we go to heaven, we’re going to suddenly know everything. Well, if we know everything, then we’re God. That’s not the case.
And for me it fuels my hope for heaven and for eternity, when God brings heaven to earth. Knowing that for all eternity, we are going to get to explore the depths of the oceans, the heights of the heavens and exploring how God created this world.
I just had this astrophysicist for NASA on my podcast, talking about how we can’t even begin to scratch the surface of how many galaxies and planets there are in the world. But she was imagining. She was like, “Hey, why won’t we be able to do this on the new earth? We know that there are new heavens. We know that there’s going to be work to do.”
Maybe we’re going to be spending eternity, literally blasting into outer space to marvel at the creativity and the glory of God. That fires me up way more than this American character of heaven being us sitting around all day, playing harps and singing hymns.
Bob: Yeah, no, I love that. That’s really, really cool.
Jesus the “gardener?”
Bob: You mentioned something else I thought was interesting too. And I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. You said this thing about Adam and Eve gardening and then Jesus being mistaken for a gardener. And that there’s a connection here. Let’s chat about that. Can you explain?
Jordan: Oh man, I’d love to. So this book, The Creator In You, is really all about that first scene of Genesis 1 & 2. God putting Adam and Eve to work in the garden. Because God didn’t want to create on his own. He stopped his work of creation after six days and told us to go fill and subdue the earth. And there’s this little detail in John’s account of Jesus’ resurrection on Easter.
It’s found in John chapter 20, it’s fascinating. It says that when Mary Magdalene turned around and looked at Jesus, she mistook him for a gardener. And we always breeze past this seemingly insignificant detail.
The church is to cultivate the garden
Jordan: But I was talking to one of the world’s top New Testament scholars, this brilliant guy named Dr. N.T. Wright. And he said, “Jordan, this is not a mistake, this is very intentional.”
What? What’s happening here?
“Think about this. God is inaugurating a new world, the second creation, the final creation. And Jesus had been mistaken as a gardener because John is pointing us back to the Garden of Eden where God inaugurated the first creation. He didn’t create it alone. Adam was called to garden it.
And just like the first Adam had his bride Eve to help him cultivate and garden the first creation. Jesus, the gardner has his bride the church to help him cultivate the final one. Jesus never said that heaven is going to come in one fell swoop.”
He said, “it’s going to come slowly like a mustard seed growing into a tree.” Like yeast folding into dough. The kingdom of heaven comes at least in part through you and me working in the power of the spirit to yank pieces of heaven on earth right now in the present. And it’s this beautiful symbol of Jesus appearing as the gardener, that I think is there to remind us of that mission.
Bob: Yeah, that’s so good. I love that.
Teaching our kids about purpose and work
Bob: So, obviously you wrote this book out of the same frustration as me of the book “Goodnight moon.” It’s like, okay. Yeah, great. It’s a book. But like, it’s just a book. Why not put something of value of what we’re trying to teach our kids in it? But anyway, so obviously you did that for your kids, but what are you doing besides that? Beyond that, to help nurture these things and teach them and help them grow in this area?
Being intentional with your kids
Jordan: Yeah. So, beyond the book just one real practical thing that I’m trying to be really intentional about in order to cultivate a sense of God-ordained joy and purpose about work early in my kids.
I talk about the good things of work and not just the hard things every night at dinner. So we play two truths and one lie every night at the dinner table. Great way to get your kids to talk about their day, right?
So they go first and then I go. And, sometimes I’ll talk about something that was difficult at work, “Awe man, Daddy really couldn’t outline this chapter of a book today.”
But most times I’ll say something good. I’ll say, “Hey, I got to talk to my friend, Bob. And all of his listeners on this podcast (and readers of his blog). What a blessing God has given me gifts that I can go serve Bob and his audience and help people understand how their faith connects with the work. Isn’t God so cool? Isn’t that awesome they do that?”
It’s the little things
Jordan: And you listening right now (or reading the blog), maybe you’re a CPA or you’re a mechanic, nurse, whatever. But telling your kids, “Hey, Mommy helped a customer solve a problem today.” Something as basic as that. Or, “Daddy gave a killer sales presentation and it just felt really, really good.”
Little things that plant in our kids’ minds that work is good. We don’t walk around just saying, “thank God it’s Friday!” We also talk about the good stuff that God is doing in and through our work.
Bob: I love that. That’s such a good idea.
Bob: So anyway, I appreciate you coming on chatting. And everybody run out and grab this book. It’s called “The Creator In You.” I am excited to read it to my kids tonight. We’re actually going to go through it for the first time. I read through it already and it’s just a great book.
It’s a great message. I’m glad you wrote it, Jordan. Thanks again for coming on and chatting about all this. I’m assuming people can find this at Amazon. It’s in stock now?
Jordan: Yes, it’s in stock. It was out of stock for two weeks. We sold out week one. But it should be there when you’re listening to this and go pick up a copy on Amazon or wherever you buy your books. But let’s face it. That means Amazon, right? We’re on the same page here. Yeah?
Bob: Yeah. Amazon will be where most of us go, but anyway. You guys can find Jordan… are you @JordanRaynor?
Jordan: And yeah, @JordanRaynor. And then just JordanRaynor.com, J-O-R-D-A-N-R-A-Y-N-O-R .com.
Bob: Awesome. All right, man. Well, thanks for coming on. Thanks for sharing.
Jordan: Thank you, Bob. Take care.