We Collaborate Because We Are Collaborations

If you’re like me, collaborating with others on a song or other work of art can feel counterintuitive and sometimes debilitating. It can add extra weight to the already uphill battle of creation. Not far below the surface of my discomfort with cowriting, I tend to think my creation would be best served if only I, the planter of the seed, watered and nourished it to maturity. I know I’m wrong in this, but how? Doesn’t it make sense at least to a certain degree?

Here’s why I can’t come to terms with that way of thinking, as much as my ego tries: We collaborate because we are collaborations. We are co-writers because we ourselves have been cowritten. Both in our personalities and in the very way we began as humans, we are collaborations.

Our personalities are a conglomeration of our favorite things about others. Day in and day out, we are writing the song of who we are by collaborating with our friends, family, and favorite music and film stars, taking what we like about them and rejecting what we dislike. As Jim Rohn says, “You’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” That should make us double-check who we invite to help design ourselves. So choose the right people, and spend overindulgent time with Jesus. Realizing that our personality is a collaborative effort reveals our interdependence.

It’s not hard to cowrite. We can’t help but cowrite. Collaboration happens whether we want it to or not—that’s the good news. But the hard work still remains of being willing to let other people into our headspace where we let others shape us. We always want to be seen as totally autonomous and unaffected by the world around us, and cowriting forces us to deny that.

If the perfect God allowed collaboration to be implemented when He created us—the magnum opus of His own image—then we, His rendered image, should crave collaboration like oxygen. We can’t help but embrace collaboration if we were made in the image of a collaborating God. In Genesis 1:26, God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness … ” In John 1:3, He said, “All things were made through [Jesus], and without him was not anything made that was made.” Romans 11:36 says, “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.” It’s clear that our heavenly Father shared not only the act of creating us with His Son, but even happily shares the glory received for the creation. If God wanted our creations to be primarily individualistic and isolated, why would He waste time carefully modeling collaboration in His creation of us?

The Bible speaks into cowriting much more than we might think. God gave us a detailed example in the way He created us. We should strive to honestly represent Him by reflecting His collaborative creativity. Choose the right people, as the Father did. Share the pen, the permission, and the glory of your songs the same way everything was created for, through, and to Jesus. We should regularly make art through other trusted artists in the same way that the Father shared every bit of His creative work through Jesus. Let’s revel with joy in each others’ creativity, just as God did when He deemed creation “very good.”

What are some ways you have shaped the way you create based on the way God creates?

Wes Ardis

About Wes Ardis

Wes lives in South Austin with his wife, Sarah, and daughter, Emerald. He serves as band director and lead guitarist for Jimmy McNeal, and is a resident in the Austin Stone Worship studio with Kyle Lent.