If you have ever come up with an idea and made it into a reality, you have been an innovator. Even as small children, people learn to navigate the world through innovation: from testing out inedible things to see what they taste like to creating new toys out of objects from the backyard, innovation is an intrinsic part of human nature. But while the creative roots of this natural inclination can easily be drawn back to a creative God, the process of innovation in the world is often far from God-glorifying. It takes intentionality rooted in Christ to overcome the magnetism of success, notoriety and wealth that fuel the world’s version of innovation.
In 2020, Biola University’s Office of Innovation set out to develop a series of values that point Christian innovators back to God by modeling His characteristics and reminding people of their dependence on God in every action. As we explore each of these seven values, it becomes apparent how these values both independently and collectively work together to reflect God in the lives of innovators. Here are four ways innovation looks different with Christ:
1. Celebrating Failure
While entrepreneurial culture can often be grounded in ideals of success through perfection, Christians have an opportunity to shift this perspective by embracing the inevitable imperfection of humans in an imperfect world, seeing this as an opportunity to learn through mistakes when they are made. Each failure, rather than being seen as an obstacle to success, gives the chance to examine what went wrong and iterate to something even greater.
2. Seeking God Every Step of the Way
Prayerful risk and abiding in Christ can be combined to guide innovators along as they navigate the process of making their idea a reality. Risk, such as the financial risk of starting a business or the risk of creating something new for the first time, apart from Christ can potentially be both unwise and reckless. Seeking God’s wisdom and guidance throughout the process saturates this risk with His character and directs each step. This can be seen throughout the Bible, from prophets of the Old Testament who step out into the unknown under God’s instruction, to figures like Mary, the mother of Christ, who sought God’s wisdom every step of the way.
3. Leaning into Community
Innovation is not just an isolated process between individuals and God. The best work is done in fellowship and collaboration with others. While society praises individual success, heavenly community is rooted in the idea of personal sacrifice and humility for the greater reward of furthering God’s kingdom here on earth. By practicing accountability with others and God, Christians lay down their pride and acknowledge that every action is strengthened through community with others. Thus, decisive action can be taken with confidence knowing that guidance has been given and support is provided every step of the way.
4. The Lasting Impact of Sustainability
Finally, prioritizing sustainability ensures that not only will an innovation begin with good intentions, but it will continue on to make a positive impact in the world that is mutually beneficial for everyone it impacts. It can be easy to get caught up in the glamour of an idea, particularly when it offers success to the person who creates it, but it is important for Christians to look past what an innovation could offer them and prioritize models of innovation that ultimately have a positive influence on everyone impacted.
What ties these core values of innovation together is the idea that followers of Christ are called to intentionally seek a different way of living that models His character despite the personal sacrifice it often requires. While the world of entrepreneurship and innovation often praises individual success, even at the deficit of others, Christians are provided the opportunity to navigate this space in a way that points back to God through serving others.
Learn more about Biola’s Office of Innovation.
Written by Game Design major Amanda Udell and Lindsey Hayden, Operations and Marketing Coordinator for the Office of Innovation.