Erwin McManus wants to take issue with mediabistro.com’s mission statement, which describes the company as “dedicated to anyone who creates or works with content, or who is a non-creative professional working in a content/creative industry”—not exactly the direction I was expecting our telephone interview to take, but that “non-creative” gets him, even though he understands the distinction the phrasing is trying to make.
“Every human being is creative,” he reminds me as the wind buffets around his cell phone; the LA-based pastor and motivational leader is calling from Minneapolis, where his production company, Awaken, is shooting a film about John Turnipseed, a former gang leader turned local community activist. His belief in that creative potential is a key principle in Wide Awake, a book that makes the case that “creativity is the natural result of spirituality,” a forceful desire to make something better of your life and the world around you. The human spirit is designed for greatness and inspiration, McManus tells me; the key is “finding a dream that matches your life.”
McManus’s message is explicitly Christian, but much of the book’s vocabulary and format—particularly its identification of the eight characteristics of “wide awake” people—strongly echo secular books on personal development. That mindset complements the approach at his ministry, Mosaic, which he refers to as an environment that supports the unleashing of its members’ creative potential and rise to the challenges God has given them—to transform their lives and give themselves, as he writes in one memorable passage, “the ability to get up in the morning and look in the mirror and like the person you are becoming.” And yet, although the rhetoric may sound familiar, he says, “it’s not about self-help—it’s about getting out of your self.”
To spread the message, McManus has created a website for the book that invites readers to submit their own testimonies about “living wide awake,” as well as a DVD package of short inspirational films—and that’s in addition to the podcasts he’s already doing at Mosaic.