Acting Boldly - Why We Need It For Healthy Parishes

Saturday, March 30, 2019

For the past two weeks I've been doing a new, intense, thing in my Lent - Human Combat Chess!

I'm training for a show that involves playing chess, with human players, and when a space is to be taken there is a stage combat fight. It's wonderful, nerdy, active time - but it's totally out of my comfort zone. It's a lot of improv character work, weapons, and sports. I'm a fan food.

While I'm a trained dancer, and no stranger to the stage and odd rehearsal spaces, I have no real experience with doing THIS. I didn't know anyone among the 80+ people in the room. We work late, long, and hard, doing stuff that is foreign and potentially dangerous. It's very uncomfortable.

That's why it's so good for me.

The lesson that keeps coming up over and over for me this Lent is that good things don't come from complacency. Not only do we have to come out of our comfort zones to grow and discover - best results come from doing it boldly.

I heard a definition of acting boldly from one of our choreographers and it stuck with me.
Acting boldly does not always mean being loud and aggressive. It means making a choice for yourself, committing to it's follow through, and responding to how that changed the room.

So many lessons to unpack from this one concept! Let's look at what it would mean for our parish family if we were to cultivate acting boldly.

  • No more playing it safe, indefinite, answers to commitments. Your yes means yes and your no means no.
  • Struggles and mistakes are not only ok, they're expected. 
  • Tension is ok. It indicates a turning point.
  • It's not enough to come in with our own big ideas, we have to communicate and respond to others.
What I love about the concept of acting boldly is it allows people to work through issues quicker. It circumvents the tendency to "keep sweet" or "play nice" or allow unsaid, unacknowledged, issues to simmer just below the surface. To act boldly means taking risks, it's true, but it allows for a more honest representation of ourselves to others.

Sometimes I think we like talk about having a parish family, but we treat that "family" more like strangers. People we don't really know or trust. People who need to be held at an arms length lest they see us as we are. 
We have to walk our talk. Sometimes we need to learn to talk the walk.

That means opening our eyes to the new people in our midst.
It means having tough conversations.
It means getting a little uncomfortable.
It means letting go of assumptions about what others "might think".
It means living, fully, boldly. 

This does not mean you need to have a full confession of every thought you have ever had to everyone in your parish! But I would be willing to bet we all have areas that we KNOW we have been holding back from approaching. Fears that have been left unchallenged. Walls put up without even thinking to peek on the other side. I'm merely asking us to notice them.
Acting boldly advocates that we practice addressing them. 

If you make mistakes, or even just change your mind, acting boldly lets you move on. Because now you have to own your new choice.

Lessons from the theater!
Where do you see the concept of acting boldly being useful in your life? Have you heard of something like this before? Was it helpful?

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