The Creative Call

The Creative Call

“Don’t faint, don’t faint,” I spoke silently to myself. “It’s just a hand, with all the skin scraped off and lots of *gulp* blood.” The doctor began to take pieces of skin and staple them to the hand oozing with blood on the operating table in front of me. The bloodied hand looked like something out of a horror film.

I am a fainter. I have been since forever and would have to lie down when giving blood so I wouldn’t fall and hit my head. And yet here I was, now a nursing student watching a skin-grafting surgery for a burn victim. I tried to think of anything else but the blood. I wondered what had happened to this man to have so many burns. I analyzed the way the doctor stapled the new skin in place to make sure it looked straight. I wondered if the wall color was a good choice for an operating theater. Anything to stop from fainting.

It was around that point in my nursing degree that I started to have doubts about whether this was the career for me. But I enjoyed meeting and caring for my patients. And surely this was what God wanted, right? I was going to be a nurse missionary somewhere in South America. Nursing was practical. I didn’t spend four months living in Guatemala in a non-English speaking village for nothing, right?…This was the “godly” thing to do. This was the way to live a holy life.

I graduated with my nursing degree and worked as a nurse, but that still, small voice became louder and louder and I felt God saying “What do you love’?” Huh? That can’t be God speaking to me surely. But that question wouldn’t go away and I started to wonder more about it. I finally got brave enough to answer the question and I realized that I loved art and design. Creative things got me excited. But surely there’s no great job prospects in those fields, right? Surely this was vanity and worldliness to strive after such things?

And then I read Genesis 1: 1 again. This time, it hit me like a lightning bolt: “In the beginning, God created.” Oh my gosh. God is the ultimate artist and creative one. God’s creativity is endless. The earth, the planets, humans. He created them all. In fact, every one of us were created in his image. And if we’re created in his image, then we too have the ability to create.

I started to see that God himself had put these interests, talents and skills within my heart all along and I had been trying to ignore who he had made me to be. So I went back to university and enrolled at the college of fine arts, where my fellow students had rainbow-colored hair and wore weird clothes and had multiple body piercings. A far cry from nursing school. With every new class I took in art school, my excitement and passion for art and creativity grew. The classes were so interesting, and so easy because these people were speaking my language.

Everybody has the ability to create and innovate. Perhaps some haven’t exercised those creative muscles in a while. Or perhaps they were told once that their drawing looked bad, or that they needed to focus on more “important” things so they just go on existing and never fulfilling those creative desires. And yet, businesses today are craving employees with creative and innovative skills. Creativity is not just about painting or drawing. In our unstable economy, businesses constantly need leaders who can think creatively, and to solve problems through innovative strategies. It’s businesses that can creatively lead and problem-solve that will survive these unpredictable times.

FPU’s art department has undergone some exciting changes lately. The department is now called the Fresno Pacific University Department of Art, Design and Creative Innovation (ADCI). We now offer three different creative majors, exciting new creative innovation courses and new minors. We believe that God has given us the vision to invest in creative innovation at FPU and to help equip students with the highly sought-after skills that the workplace is looking for, regardless of the career field students go into.

I have sometimes wondered how different my life would be if I had stayed in nursing. Maybe I would be in medical missions, somewhere in South America, but I know that I would have never begun to understand God’s creativity and would not be living up to my true creative potential. If we are brave enough to follow the creative call, we may be surprised at where it will lead, but we will never be unfulfilled.


Rebecca McMillen, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor and Program Director, Art, Design and Creative Innovation