Recently I was reading through Proverbs, enjoying the wisdom of the writers but sort of expecting those same common sense platitudes, when all of a sudden one verse (10:5) smacked me in the face. The Message puts it this way:
Make hay while the sun shines—that’s smart;
Go fishing during harvest—that’s stupid.
I know, right? It kind of just screams “common sense,” and you almost wonder why the writer bothered to say it at all. DUH. Of COURSE you would make hay while the sun is shining, and what kind of moron would make time to fish when there’s perfectly good wheat waiting to be harvested in the fields?
Maybe…someone who is enamored a bit too much with originality?
I can see it now—this farmer has always resisted the status quo. It’s harvest time again, so he begrudgingly gets up and ready to go out into the fields…and then stops.
Wait, he thinks, everybody is out harvesting right now. I could do that too, but it’s just so…unoriginal. So…expected. So…BORING. (gasp) I am called to invent, to innovate, to do something unique with my life! Of course they are all harvesting. But ME…what if I…what if I…FISH? Eureka!
And off he goes. Who cares if it’s efficient? It’s ORIGINAL!!!
It seems kind of ridiculous, but I think we do this more often than we’d like to admit. As Americans, we tend to jump directly to innovation as soon as we get an idea. (My tribe, church planters, are the worst culprits of all.) But the most fruitful—and biblical—route actually looks more like this:
Information —–> Imitation —–> Innovation
Yeah, we’re not very fond of that middle step. Why would I want to imitate someone when they can’t possibly do it as well or creatively as I can?
Because, even when that is the case, at least they’re already doing it! And there’s always time for Innovation later, after we’ve watched and learned in humility. We actually might learn along the way that that ingenious idea we had would never have worked in its original form anyway.
So let’s not be that guy, the one who fishes when it’s harvest time. If you have an idea, go find someone who is doing it already, and learn what you can. Imitate, Imitate, Imitate, with gentleness and humility, and then you’ll know exactly how to Innovate.
We are all excited to witness your originality and creative genius, when the time is right. For now, go Make Hay!