Innovations

Aug 5, 2011

My granddaughter Clara is one year old. At her birthday celebration last weekend, she pulled out a brand new party trick and walked fourteen steps. She is so excited by her new skill, she hasn’t slept well since. This vertical innovation of mobility has brought both sleeplessness and clinginess. Her foot-high view of the world as a crawler has grown to at least knee-high. She vacillates from her new-found independence back to the safety of babyhood–and not without tears. Her life has been disrupted.

In his book What The Dog Saw and Other Adventures*, Malcolm Gladwell tells the story of the inventor and pitchman Ron Popeil. When Ron introduced the Chop-O-Matic and the Ronco Showtime Rotisserie and BBQ on television, “…it required consumers to rethink the way they went about their business in the kitchen. Like most great innovations, it was disruptive. And how do you persuade people to disrupt their lives?”

The phrase “Innovations are disruptive” has been gnawing at me for several weeks. Like learning a new word, I see it everywhere: Walking for Clara is disruptive. Changing the way we worship in church or do ministry with newcomers is disruptive. Moving or changing jobs is disruptive. Marriage is disruptive. Children are disruptive. Everything worth having disrupts my life.

Jesus, too, is disruptive. Jesus asks me to change the way I relate to my enemies, spend my money, live in community…. He persuades me to disrupt my life not with promises of  ease or innovative kitchen gadgets; he persuades me to disrupt my life with  promises of a new relationship with God and my neighbor–a love and a “peace that surpass all understanding.” (Philippians 4:7)

*What The Dog Saw and Other Adventures by Malcolm Gladwell, Little, Brown and Company, 2009, p. 15.