Saturday, February 28, 2009

Beacon Touchpaper #8: "Inflow and Outflow"

"...You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also..." (2 Timothy 2.1-2 ESV)

Towards the end of the 1990's, Disney Animation Studios witnessed a steady decline in both the quality of their output at the cinemas, and in the profits these features made. From about the same time, a little-known studio called Pixar began creating some computer-animated features the likes of which had never been seen before: “Toy Story”, “A Bug's Life”, ”Finding Nemo”, “The Incredibles”... The list goes on and on, and many of us have enjoyed their ingenuity, thrills and imagination. But what was the difference? How could such a massive organisation like Disney fail to compete with this far smaller, yet far more creative, company?

Well, Disney managed to buy Pixar in 2006 for a not-insignificant sum and the man so hugely responsible for Pixar's success came to run Disney's own animation fold. When he arrived, John Lasseter gave his new employees some simple wisdom which underlines the whole Pixar ethos in just a few words: "Continue to do your jobs, and also make sure you're continually learning and teaching at the same time (paraphrased)." In order to bring the best to the table, his people needed to be growing and passing it on.

The apostle Paul also understood the importance for growth in each one of us that we might fulfil our roles for God to the utmost: throughout his letters, he tells men and women to follow his example (1 Cor 4.16, 1 Cor 11.1 and Phil 3.17) - which speaks of a life of such remarkable integrity that that level of confidence is not arrogant, merely true - and to also become examples themselves (1 Tim 4.15-16, Titus 2.1-10). For a lake to remain fresh and not become stagnant, it needs two things: a decent inflow, and a decent outflow. There's that learning and teaching thing again...

...Who are you imitating? Who are you coming alongside and learning from? And is your life worthy of imitation? Are you modelling and teaching in your conduct, your speech, your knowledge, your passion? In and out, in and out...

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