Think outside of the box

Think outside of the box. I think it is a safe assumption that anyone reading this has heard that phrase hundreds of times. It began its life in corporate leadership seminars and creative workshops, and over the years it has made its way into our cultural vocabulary as a very common cliché. At face value, it’s a valuable concept. After all, who doesn’t like the idea of the maverick crusader who refuses to be corralled, who doesn’t play by the rules, and who gets things done in innovative ways? It brings to mind people like Steve Jobs, Walt Disney, and whoever it was came up with the idea of using Doritos for a taco shell.

However, as a Christian and consequently part of a love-your-enemy, give-your-life-to-find-it, servant-leader, inverse-culture Kingdom, I would like to challenge you to something revolutionary: think inside of the box.

Please don’t misunderstand me; I believe innovation and fresh approaches are awesome. I enjoy Apple products, I love Disneyland, and I think Doritos Locos Tacos are pretty amazing. The “thinking outside of the box” approach that hurts us, however, is when we ignore or fail to utilize what is available to us already inside of our box.

In Jesus’ famous illustration “the parable of the talents” (Matthew 25:14-30; Luke 19:12-28), the master entrusted different portions of money to different servants. The servants who invested their portion and brought an increase, yet the servant who was given the least buried it in the yard. The servants who invested were lauded by their master, and the servant who buried what he had was chastised. Even though he returned exactly what he was entrusted with, he was punished for not putting that one talent to work.

When the other servants invested, why did this guy just hide them away? There are lots of possible reasons to speculate. We see a hint of his motivations in his statement: “Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground.” (Matthew 25:24-25). He knows about His master’s expectations of an R.O.I., but he probably thought that only having the one talent kind of let him off the hook. Maybe he thought “well, since I only got one stupid talent I’ll just sit it here. There’s no way he can expect me to work it with just this one talent. If I had more talents like those other guys, I would totally make bank, too.”

We can get trapped in this same mentality. We can look outside of our resources, systems, and limitations and say “if I only had this other thing, if only I didn’t have to be stuck within these boundaries, then I could really fly”.

Remember, the master didn’t chastise the servant for only having one talent, He chastised him for not investing the talent he was given. The servant wanted something that was outside of his box, but the master wanted him to use what was already in his box. One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much.

Remember that influencers who truly innovate don’t start outside of the box, but they take what’s already inside their box and invest it in innovative, creative ways. The result is a success that will soon outgrow the box. In another miracle described in the New Testament, a child brought Jesus a box with 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish, and a crowd of thousands of families were fed. It’s interesting that Jesus didn’t create food from nothing – though we know he certainly could have if He wanted to. Instead, He took what was already in that young child’s lunchbox, and brought about results more wildly productive than anyone could have ever imagined. Let’s not become discouraged with limitations in our time, resources, or systems, (“if only I had…”), but instead let’s realize that the God limitless power can take what’s in your box and blow it up beyond all of your expectations.

Let’s take what we have, as large or small as it may be, and be faithful, creative, and passionate about it. 

Let’s think inside the box. Don’t worry, you won’t be stuck there for long.


Grant Parkki is the Christian Education Associate Pastor at Kenai New Life. Kenai New Life is located at 209 Princess Street in Kenai, with Sunday services at 9am and 10:30am, with programs for children, youth, and adults at 6:30 on Wednesday evenings. You can find out more about the church and its ministries at 


More in Life

This photo of Frenchy with a freshly killed black bear was taken on the Kenai Peninsula in the early 1900s. (Photo courtesy of the Viani Family Collection)
Unraveling the story of Frenchy, Part 1

The stories were full of high adventure — whaling, mining, polar bear hunting, extensive travel, and the accumulation of wealth

Seeing God’s hand in this grand and glorious creation

The same God of creation is the God that made me and you with the same thoughtfulness of design, purpose and intention

Chewy and sweet the macaroons are done in 30 minutes flat. (Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)
Sophisticated, simplified

When macarons are too complicated, make these delicious, simple macaroons

Michael S. Lockett / capital city weekly
Gigi Monroe welcomes guests to Glitz at Centennial Hall, a major annual drag event celebrated every Pride Month, on June 18.
Packed houses, back to back: GLITZ a roaring success

Sold-out sets and heavy-hitting headliners

Michael Armstrong / Homer News 
Music lovers dance to Nervis Rex at the KBBI Concert on the Lawn on July 28, 2012, at Karen Hornaday Park in Homer.
Concert on the Lawn returns

COTL line up includes The English Bay Band, a group that played in 1980

Marcia and Mary Alice Grainge pose in 1980 with a pair of caribou antlers they found in 1972. The sisters dug the antlers from deep snow and detached them from a dead caribou. (Photo provided by Marcia Grainge King)
Fortune and misfortune on the Kenai — Part 2

In Kasilof, and on Kachemak Bay, in Seldovia and later in Unga, Petersen worked various jobs before being appointed deputy marshal in 1934

“Glimmer of Hope: How Tragedy Sparked a Movement” was published in 2018 by Razorbill and Dutton, imprints of Penguin Random House LLC. (Image via
Off the Shelf: The power of personal voice

“A Glimmer of Hope: How Tragedy Sparked a Movement” provides first-person accounts of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida

Most Read