Sub-Creators and Co-Creators

By Greg Smalley
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God, the grand Creator par excellence, is inviting the creatures who bear His image to join Him in the ongoing work of creation.  And He’s asking them to do this together.

Our duty, as men and women, is to proceed as if limits to our ability did not exist.  We are collaborators in creation. — Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

In Genesis Chapter One we are told that the first thing God did after creating Adam and Eve “in His image, male and female” was to entrust them with a shared responsibility:  “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth” (Genesis 1:28). 

Perhaps it would be fair to say that, in the past, this idea of “dominion” has too often conjured up images of iron-fisted oppression in the minds of Bible students.  That’s a serious misreading of the text.  In actuality, the picture presented here is one of collaborative creative endeavor.  God, the grand Creator par excellence, is inviting the creatures who bear His image to join Him in the ongoing work of creation.  And He’s asking them to do this together.    

In a little parable called “Leaf By Niggle,” J.R.R. Tolkien tells the tale of an insignificant little painter who spends his entire life laboring over a picture of a huge tree.  When he dies and goes to heaven, he is surprised to find himself standing under the shade of its branches – his creative work has become reality!  Nor is that all:   his neighbor, Mr. Parish – an attentive gardener – is there as well, and together they get to work once again.  “Niggle would think of wonderful new flowers and plants,” Tolkien writes, “and Parish always knew exactly how to set them.” 

Marriage is the place where this aspect of our destiny comes into sharpest focus.  Within the bond of their one-flesh union, husband and wife become not merely sub-creators, working under the tutelage and authority of their Lord, but co-creators, laboring together not only to introduce new lives into the world – something they could not possibly achieve apart from one another – but also to make that world a better  and more beautiful place. 

Not even the angels in heaven have been given such a high and holy calling.        



Remember, always act like you’re trying to get a second date! Sometimes in marriage we forget that we need to pursue and “woo” our spouse. So dress up a bit. Be polite and open doors. Compliment one another. Be affectionate – hold hands, cuddle and steal kisses. Remember to protect your date night from conflict by cutting off any arguments and agreeing to talk about the issue at a later time.


Step 1: Go someplace different for dinner.

Instead of visiting the same familiar locations and eating the same old food, pick somewhere new or try a different type of cuisine.

Step 2: Create something together.

After dinner, try to come up with an activity that requires the two of you to work together in order to make or create something new.  If possible, choose a project that neither one of you could accomplish quite so effectively without the other’s input and help.  This may sound challenging, but you can do it!

  • Do you have small children?  Then find out if there’s a “Build-a-Bear” store or a similar establishment in your neighborhood where the two of you can get together and make a teddy bear for your kids.  You’ll be surprised how much fun this can be.
  • Take a ballroom dance class.  If you’re already experts on the floor, find a club or restaurant where you can go out dancing.  Dancing is one of the most demanding forms of creative teamwork known to man!
  • After the kids are in bed and the sitter has gone home, tack up a big sheet of butcher paper on the wall of your den or family room, get some paints or washable markers, and create a mural illustrating where you went that night, what you did, what you mean to each other, and all the many things for which you are grateful.  Celebrate your love for one another and the rest of your family.

Step 3: Relax and unwind. Ready for a few questions?

After your activity, find a quiet place for dessert or coffee to relax and emotionally connect through good conversation. Answer the following questions. Be sure to keep your responses positive, uplifting and encouraging. 

  • What was your favorite part of the evening? What is the one thing you learned tonight that you didn’t know about me before? 
  • How have the events of this evening helped you to see your marriage as a creative and cooperative endeavor?   
  • How has dancing, painting, or building something together helped you to see the everyday routine of married life in a new light?  

Remember, this isn’t a time to vent or complain about things that aren’t working as well as you might like. Rather, it’s an opportunity to highlight each of your gifts and talents and compliment one another on your unique God-given abilities.
What are some other ways you can work as a team and share responsibilities in the days and weeks ahead?

 Step 5: Home Sweet Home

As you end the evening, spend time planning your next date. Think about additional ways you can work as a team—remember that teams win together, not as individuals.  Then, it’s up to you what happens next. Have a great final adventure!                                                                   

Download the PDF Version Here

© 2014 Focus on the Family.

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