**This post contains affiliate links. Please see my disclosure page for more information.**
This is the second in a two-part series on Howard Gardner’s multiple intelligences. In part 1 I discussed how we each possess different types of intelligences that help us to learn things effectively. I also spoke about how there is a link between our preferred learning style and our creativity.
For a quick summary, you can download a cheat sheet below.
In part 2, I’ll be exploring how we can use these multiple intelligences to boost our creativity to help us go deeper in our faith and our relationship with God.
THE LINK BETWEEN MULTIPLE INTELLIGENCES AND FAITH
1 Corinthians chapter 12 tells us that God created each one of us with different abilities and spiritual gifts, all for the service of our Lord. While these refer specifically to spiritual gifts such as the gift of apostleship, prophecy, teaching or miracles, there is some overlap with multiple intelligences.
Underpining our spiritual gifts are unique aptitudes, skills, abilities, talents and learning styles which God also created in us. Indeed, Gardner uses the word “talent” interchangeably with “intelligences” to refer to the same thing. Each of our talents or intelligences lend themselves to different forms of creativity and creative expression.
Our creativity stems from these 9 multiple intelligences which are God given. When we do things in the same old way and rely on the familiar, our creativity can become stale and boring. If we step outside of our comfort zone, we are able to engage our imagination in exciting new ways.
We can apply these multiple intelligences to all areas of our Christian life. While some may argue that they are not very creative at all, this is not true. Everyone possesses these multiple intelligences. This means everyone has the potential to do something in a more creative way. It’s simply a matter of stepping out of your comfort zone and tapping into and developing them. By doing this, we can find many different ways to build our faith and our relationship with God.
Here are the 9 intelligences or talents, and ways in which we can use them to boost our creativity and build our faith with God.
1. MUSICAL-RHYTHMIC-HARMONIC INTELLIGENCE
Musical intelligence means that you learn things through music and have a natural aptitude when picking up an instrument. If there’s music in your veins, you can use that creativity to express your faith in terms of songs of praise and worship.
King David wrote the majority of the Psalms using his musical and linguistic skills.
Another musician in the Bible was Heman the Ezrahite. He is the grandson of Samuel, and wrote Psalm 88. 1 Chronicles 25:1 lists Heman as one of three main musicians appointed by King David “for the ministry of prophesying, accompanied by harps, lyres and cymbals”.
Why not consider using your talents to serve others? Maybe you could play in the band or lead worship at church. Or God may be prompting you to write songs to inspire others with your gift.
Musical intelligence usually goes hand in hand with linguistic intelligence. This is unsurprising, as song writers will often be skilled in both melodic composition and lyrics. Learning information like Bible verses can be done by turning them into lyrics, or simply reciting the verses in a rhythmical way. That’s another creative way of using musical intelligence in your walk with God.
If you have visual-spatial intelligence, then you think and learn in terms of pictures, multi-media, maps, charts and diagrams. You might also enjoy drawing and painting, 3D-modelling and animation, photography, filming videos and designing things.
You can exercise your visual and spatial creativity in relation to your faith in dozens of ways.
Painting and drawing Biblical art comes to mind naturally. However, you can also use your skill to create prophetic art. This is where you are taking what God has revealed to you in your mind’s eye and are translating it directly into an image in reality that speaks a message to someone and brings about a change.
The way my mind works, I prefer to see things visually. However, when I was a Religious Studies teacher, I also liked to make liberal use of visual illustrations, charts, diagrams and worksheets to help others learn. This is something you can do to explain concepts in the Bible or elements of your faith. Is there a particular Christian teaching that someone else finds too difficult to understand? Maybe demonstrating it visually may help them see it in a different light.
Why not give the Rubik’s Cube puzzle a go? This requires your brain to organise each square on the 3x3x3 cube in such a way so that each side of the cube is all a single colour.
A film director will have the artistic vision for bringing a story to life, often using both visual and spatial intelligence simultaneously, and seeing the same shot through different angles or perspectives. If you are a film maker, you can use your skill in creating faith-based movies, Biblical films or documentaries. You may also be able to use your video and multimedia editing skills within the church for presentations, news bulletins, webinars or creating filmed courses.
Verse Mapping is one creative method of studying the Bible that allows you to brainstorm different elements of the verse and any related words and concepts. This is achieved by a creating diagram or chart similar to a mind map and using different colours to map it out so that you can discover the deeper meaning.
Another one is Bible journaling. This involves drawing or painting in a specially-designed Bible with wide margins. It’s more than simply writing notes. These can be illustrations of verses, concepts, thoughts or promises that God has spoken to you during your Bible reading or that you’ve heard in sermon.
If you’re into comic books and story boarding, reading a fully-illustrated graphic novel Bible is something that will bring your Bible reading to life. I’ve produced one of the entirety of Luke’s gospel myself, which you can find out more about by clicking here.
3. VERBAL-LINGUISTIC INTELLIGENCE
Those falling under this category have the ability to express themselves effectively, to find the right word for the right occasion, or to write songs and poetry. They pretty much think in terms of words.
If languages are your strong suit, you can use that to bridge the gap between different cultures as an interpreter or teaching English as a foreign language. Alternatively, you may be able to work with a group of Bible translators.
Perhaps you are good at storytelling. Why not try writing a novel, a short story, a film script or a play that can share a message you have to tell?
Or maybe you are good at persuasion, explaining things factually and making the message clear. You can use your creative skills to write books or articles to explain elements of your faith, to share your testimony.
You’ll find a lot of theologians are also lawyers – myself included. There’s a lot of crossover between the written, verbal and linguistic skills gained in both disciplines. This can be used for the purpose of expounding central Christian doctrines or apologetics (which refers to the defence of the Christian faith by means of debate and reasoned arguments).
Linguistic intelligence usually runs parallel to musical intelligence. You can combine your linguistic and musical abilities to write worship songs or to write poetry.
Linguistic intelligence can also be linked to visual intelligence. You may have a skill in combining the two to create metaphors and illustrations for storytelling purposes. Jesus often taught in parables using word pictures, illustrations and metaphors to engage his listeners and ignite their imagination.
As Alice Bass says in her book, The Creative Life:
“Metaphor gets us out of our normal thinking patterns and shakes those dormant synapses in our brains by drawing us into relationship with a concept. Through metaphor an idea becomes something we experience.”
If you are writing worship songs, trying using more metaphors and word pictures to focus your theme instead of reiterating the ideas in the same old way. The Bible is full of imagery and metaphor for you to draw upon. You can also express things using your own metaphors to give your songs a more personal element and to enable your listens to experience the words more fully.
4. LOGICAL-MATHEMATICAL INTELLIGENCE
If you fall under this category, you have the ability to perform mathematical operations, scientific thinking and deductive and inductive reasoning. Your logical side enjoys precise, abstract, structured and critical ways of thinking.
If you possess logical intelligence, you may be able to use this in the area of apologetics as well as forming philosophical arguments.
Have you noticed how many blog articles use numbered lists? They seem to be all the rage these days. People seem to like numbers and lists as it helps them see things in a systematic way. Howard Gardner organised multiple intelligences or talents into 7 different categories, later adding two further ones.
But did you know that God likes numbers as well?
Numbers play a big part in the Bible. I’m not referring to the fourth book of the Pentateuch in the Old Testament, but actual numerals. These often have a symbolic meaning behind them. For example, the number 7 represents perfection and wholeness, and is frequently associated with God himself. In fact, much of its meaning is tied to creation and creativity and God’s own creative work.
Genesis uses the Hebrew word for “created” 7 times to refer to God’s own work of creation. It tells us that God created the world in six days, and on the seventh day he rested. There are also 7 days in a week with the seventh day being the Sabbath. The New Testament contains many other references to the number 7, which you can look up.
Try exercising your creativity by doing a study in the Bible of all the different numbers used and the meanings behind them. Not just how many times these numbers themselves appear, but try seeing how many times something occurs. For example, Jesus performs seven different miracles on the Sabbath itself.
5. BODILY-KINESTHETIC INTELLIGENCE
Have you ever found yourself having trouble describing exactly how to do something when asked to explain it using words? However, you may have a natural intuition of how to do it once you actually perform it instinctively.
Whenever you’re feeling uncreative and uninspired, it’s good to get out and move about. I find that a trip to the gym or a swim in the pool helps me focus on other things. It gets those creative juices flowing again.
Stress is known to inhibit creativity and can cause mental blockage. Regular exercise, on the other hand, activates the pleasure centres of the brain. This reduces stress and anxiety, stimulates creativity and improves overall mental function.
Opportunities for creativity include role play, drama, mime or interpretative dance in worship if you enjoy using your body for movement.
You may be able to give dramatic live stage performance or act in a movie.
If you are better with your hands or into crafts, try using your skills to help and serve others. You may be able to design or build something practical. Jesus was a carpenter and was good with his hands.
Alternatively, you may be a sculptor, engraver or embroider and can produce something more artistic.
6. INTERPERSONAL INTELLIGENCE
If you have high interpersonal intelligence, you may find you relate well to others and are good at communicating effectively. Maybe you notice that you are sensitive to others’ feelings and moods. Perhaps you’re aware of others’ motivations and are able to understand and sympathise with other people’s viewpoints.
There are plenty of ways to exercise your creativity in this area in your Christian life. You may be able to build relationships with other cultures or host an event to bring people together.
Why not also try hosting a Bible study or being a home group leader? You can use this to build community and to help others discover their own talents or multiple intelligences within a safe setting.
It also provides the opportunity for learning through interaction and discussion and doing life together.
Alternatively, you may be good at listening and empathising with others and can find ways to serve as a counsellor.
If you don’t feel you are strong in this area, you might still want to step out of your comfort zone and try something different. You could either host or go to events where you can meet new people and engage in different types of conversations. Perhaps you’ll learn something new, or are able to teach others yourself.
Having interpersonal intelligence is more than simply being extroverted or sociable. It’s an ability to identify with others and understand what they are feeling. You can do that even if you feel you are less outgoing.
Indeed, many who might be classed as more reserved or introverted can excel in this area. They may even display a higher level of interpersonal intelligence than those who seem to be social butterflies.
You can also be a mentor to others, sharing your knowledge or helping others to grow in their own walk with Jesus.
Making disciples is an area we are all called to as Christians. Why not do that in a creative way?
7. INTRAPERSONAL INTELLIGENCE
Intrapersonal intelligence has to do with having a high degree of self knowledge. It refers to your ability to understand what your own strengths and weaknesses are, tuning into your own emotions and being able to form judgments and conclusions from them.
We can engage our intrapersonal intelligence to consider our creative process and where we can improve or how we can do things differently.
Part of the very reason for this blog post is to look at the ways in which we use our most dominant intelligences and how we can try to access other areas to bring a fresh perspective or novelty to the table.
If you have high intrapersonal intelligence, there are various ways for you to express yourself creatively. These may be in the form of personal journals or diaries, blogs, or even song writing.
Through keeping a journal or a blog, we can also see how God is working in our life and changing us over a period of time. We can look back over our life events and experiences and try to make sense of them. We can consider if we have looked at them in the wrong way.
Why not map out a personal plan of your life – where you’ve been and what goals you would like to achieve? You can examine the ways in which God has worked before in different situations. By noting these down in a journal, you can reflect on your journey with God. You can see how he is working in your life even now!
8. NATURALISTIC INTELLIGENCE
Those with naturalistic intelligence have a particular affinity to the world outside and to certain animals. Such individuals will enjoy documentaries or books on nature and animals.
If you’re feeling stale and uninspired, then why not unplug and get away from technology and the same old surroundings? Take a walk, a bike ride or a hike out to the country or to the mountains or forests and experience nature. Use the time to behold God’s beauty in creation.
You can also try gardening and spend time among plants, fruit or vegetables. Cultivating the patience to tend to them regularly and wait for the seed to grow can also provide insight into our own relationship with God. We are like seeds ourselves that need watering and regular attention as God provides the growth in our lives.
Another idea is to spend time at a zoo or animal shelter. Why not take time to admire all the different and sometimes unusual animals God has created? How many can you find that are mentioned in the Bible?
9. EXISTENTIAL INTELLIGENCE
Do you ever find yourself frequently asking the big questions about life, death, the universe and existence. Where do I come from? Why was I born? What is the meaning of life? Is there more to life than this? Does death spell the end of our existence?
Others are constantly pondering their existence and purpose in life. I know I am, which is part of what led me into pursuing a Bachelors and Masters degree in theology.
If you typically have these kinds of questions, it may be an idea to enrol on a theology course somewhere. You can do it either part time or full time depending on what you want to achieve and how much time you have.
People are wanting to find purpose and meaningfulness in their existence. There’s a spiritual hunger and emptiness that each one of us seek to fill. The Purpose Driven Life by Christian author and pastor Rick Warren is one of the top-selling Christian books of all time for this very reason. It’s a 40-day devotional book taking the reader through God’s five purposes for human life. This is something you can read and use in your quiet times each day, particularly if you are constantly asking these kinds of existential questions.
As with many of the other intelligences, there’s plenty of crossover. You can find ways to explore the more creative side of this category by using some of the other ideas found above: through music, art, journaling, taking a class with others or exploring nature. The possibilities are endless.
Using our creativity
Albert Einstein said:
“Creativity is intelligence having fun.”
The more we develop each of our multiple intelligences, the greater the number of opportunities we can find for expressing ourselves creatively, and the more fun we can have with them.
As we explore and nurture each of these intelligences, especially our most neglected ones, this helps us to push ourselves in new ways. Consequently, this can have a synergistic effect of strengthening each other of our other intelligences . As a result, this can boost our creativity even further.
Don’t forget after trying out all these methods to relax too. As creatives, it’s important that we have regular time to rest and focus on God.
If you’d like a one-page summary of all the 9 intelligences along with more creative ideas you can try, then you can download a printable cheat sheet below:
When you download it, you’ll also be asked if you want to subscribe to this blog as well where you can receive the latest updates. If you do wish to keep in touch, please check the consent box.
You won’t receive any spam and you can unsubscribe at any time.
Finally, which type of intelligence do you think could help you go deeper in your faith with God? How could you develop other intelligences and your creativity?
Leave me a comment below. I’d love to know your thoughts.
Robert is the founder of Drawing on the Word. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Theology and a Master’s degree in Systematic Theology. He also has a degree in Law and was called to the Bar. Robert previously taught religious studies and was a theology lecturer. He is an artist, musician and writer, and has created a graphic novel version of Luke’s gospel. You can follow him below.