Take a chance

Most of you probably do not remember Elaine May and Mike Nichols. Certainly you know many of the movies directed by Nichols; The Graduate, The Birdcage, Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolfe, to name a few. Before he went on to direct, however, Nichols and May were regarded as the best comedy team in America. Wasson in his book, Improv Nation, tells us that Elaine May had a motto, "The only safe thing is to take a chance." He explained the motto thus, "I think she means that if you stay safe, and don't take a chance - don't do something that's different from the last thing, something that makes you nervous and holds dangers - if you keep trying to do the thing that worked last time, the encrustations of mannerisms begin to take you over. And pretty soon you're no good at all - and therefore not safe at all."

Of course Wasson is talking about improv and art, but again, what is true in improv is true in life. When we allow ourselves to play it safe or get in a rut we deny ourselves the opportunity to grow. The old adage is true, we learn from our mistakes. Grow comes from change and if we never allow change we stifle growth. In my thirty-five years of parish ministry the worst think a person or church can say is, "We always do it that way." Coming in close second and third are, "We've never done it that way before" and "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

In my review of the book, Unbusy by Andy Dragt, I mention the second law of thermodynamics, The second law of thermodynamics states that the entropy of any isolated system always increases. That means that all closed systems eventually wind down, decay, and die. It goes for plants, animals, humans, and even organizations that refuse to adapt and change. There is no status quo. You are either changing or dying. Keep growing, keep changing, or entropy sets in and you die. 

This Lent the Body of Christ had to figure out how to change and adapt during a pandemic. No Sunday services, no Holy Week activities, no church pitch-ins. All of a sudden pastors and lay leaders were scrambling trying to learn Zoom and Facebook live. Hopefully the lessons learned will not be cast aside once the pandemic is over. 

So my spiritual improvisers, whether its your art, your church, or just your life, stop playing it safe. Take a chance. Try something new. Fail, get up, and try again. One of the biggest mantra's in business is "fail often -  fail forward." Are you willing to take a chance on God? Are you willing to take a chance and be vulnerable or learn a new skill, or read something that stretches you? Remember, the only safe this is to take a chance. The only other choice in entropy


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