Several weeks ago I participated in a comedy cafe night at my church. It consisted of 1 1/2 hours of improvisational comedy in the style of “Whose Line is it Anyway,” except that it was clean. And it was hilarious.
After the show, an audience member congratulated me on the performance and asked me where I learned to do improv. I told her that my whole life has prepared me for it. Being a children’s pastor is a big part of that preparation. But so are the many other areas of my life.
Since that time I have often thought about my statement. The whole of my experiences prepared me to be and do the things I do today. They give me courage to stand in front of an audience without a script or any idea of what will happen next, and perform on cue based on suggestions from the audience. My experiences in work, children’s ministry, research and writing, academic lecturing, workshop leading, and being a son and brother all contribute in part to who I am. And they factored in to my responses during the improv.
Life experience counts. Academics must partner with practical application in the real world in order to help the learner fully realize her potential. It takes hard work to be able to think on your feet and without a safety net. Real life does not protect us from the full consequences of our actions. Improv is risky; so is life.
In improv there are basic guidelines I am learning to follow to help me navigate the creative process without breaking character, or compromising my standards. It seems to me that life is similar. God has given us Scripture to help us take on the character of Jesus and avoid compromising his standards for us. Within those parameters he gives of freedom to be and do all that is in our scope of potential.
Yet, we tend to fall short of that potential. Sometimes, because of our sin. Also, because of doubt. Often we sell ourselves short because we cannot comprehend the vast potential of creativity which God has deposited in us, if only we would dream, and risk, and lay hold of opportunities…. If only we would quit the negative thinking and self-destructive behavior, and take steps toward God’s purposes for us.
This is true of those who do not claim to follow Jesus. It is true of those who do follow Jesus: church attenders, church volunteers, children’s pastors, pastors, and denominational leaders. Let’s face it. Most of us, in our heart-of-hearts, tend to be a bit of a mess, full of self-doubt. And those who say they aren’t. Well, maybe that is so. Or, maybe for some of them they are denying what they know to be true in their hearts.
Your whole life has prepared you to be who you are today. Are things in disarray? Then make a choice about tomorrow. First, read the letter to the Ephesians several times now, through the coming week. Soak it in. See what God might be speaking to you concerning your life. Second, write down one simple, constructive, God-honoring thing you will do tomorrow to follow Jesus and make your life better. Did you write it? Good. Now, go and do it.