Lessons From Improv
When I was growing up as a teenager in South Carolina, my family loved watching the TV show Whose Line Is It Anyway? We never knew what was going to happen next since it was "the show where everything is made up and the points don't matter." The art of improvisational comedy intrigued me and further held my attention as I attended seminary. A group of fellow pastors-in-training formed the improv troupe Axe of the Apostles, and during one of their performances, I got called up on stage as a volunteer from the audience. The lesson I learned that day is one that can serve very useful and helpful to all Christians as we answer the call to ministry and take up our cross to follow Christ: always say Yes!
There are several stories in the Bible where individuals are called by God to perform a task or deliver a message. Some of those individuals say Yes! while others have fought God and initially say NO. Two persons who said NO come to mind; their names are Moses and Jonah. Moses cited his speech impediment to excuse him from delivering God's message to Egypt, and Jonah did not want to travel to the wretched city of Nineveh and had pre-judged them from the outset. The long story short is this: God is able to lead us from No to Yes. God finds a way to take our excuses and seemingly solid justifications and shows us how God's way is truly the best and most righteous path to take. God has a way of turning our No into a Yes. I consider all the people who said Yes! to God from the beginning and the outcome of their stories - Samuel, Isaiah, Mary, and the disciples as they were invited to follow Jesus. If you are new to Christianity, then Google "the Gospel of Luke" and read Mary's response to God's angel in the first chapter. I pray that your response to God's call on your life will be like Mary's. Keep reading through that gospel to see how the disciples drop everything to say Yes! and follow Jesus.
In her book Bossypants, Tina Fey continues to build upon the improv rule of "always say Yes!" when she adds, say "Yes!...And..." Sometimes, simply agreeing to a task or situation is not enough; we have to say, "And..." This keeps an improv sketch alive so that everyone continues to pretend that Drew Carey's belt is really a snake and that Wayne Brady can actually speak German. Without saying "And..." the entire movement of the bit would come to an awkward halt. Watch the revival of Whose Line on the CW this summer, and you'll understand the power of agreeing to a situation with YES and the momentum of building upon previous events by saying AND.
All of us who have breath are being called upon by God for a task of one sort or another. Turn to the examples of Isaiah and Mary and the disciples to see how people have been blessed by answering YES to God. But don't just stop there; be sure to keep the story going by saying "And..." Whenever we say YES, we become part of God's larger story. By saying AND, we get to add our God-given talents and abilities to the situation. Just imagine the conversation: Yes God, I will feed the hungry, AND I will work with local organizations to start a new soup kitchen. Yes God, I will follow you to the inner city, AND I will invite others who may be wrestling with the same calling in life. Yes God, I will share the good news of the Bible, AND I will help train up new leaders to share their God-stories as well.
Take a page out of the improv comedy playbook: don't be afraid to answer Yes! to God. But don't just stop there. Keep God's story going with your AND.
+Peace and Love from Pastor Kris
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