Adaptive Change…made simple

Do you remember that touching tear-jerking moment back in 2008 when truth and goodness and grace and innocence came crashing through a women’s college softball playoff game? Sara Tucholsky, a 5’ 2” senior in college, came up to bat in a sport where she had never hit a home run in her entire softball career, high school and college combined. Click to see video here.

first baseThen the unthinkable happened. She hit a hard line drive that cleared the home run fence. Two players rounded the bases toward home before everybody realized that Sara was lying on the ground in pain just past first base. She had failed to touch the base, turned abruptly to correct her mistake, and tore ligaments in her knee making her unable to go any further.

Umpires advised the Western Oregon coach that Sara could not be touched by any team member without disqualification, but could be replaced by a player at first base, settling for a two-run single. Either scenario would have resulted in the erasure of Sara’s first and only home run in her life. Those, apparently, are the rules and rules are what make games work.

Then the unthinkable went to the unbelievable.

First base player from the opposing team, Mallory Holtman, the home run career leader for the Great Northwest Athletic Conference asked whether their team could assist Sara around the bases. The umpire was clearly puzzled, but had to admit that there was nothing in the rules that would prevent an opposing team from aiding the other team’s player to advance through the bases and record a home run.

Western OregonMs. Holtman grabbed shortstop, Liz Wallace, and draping Sara over their shoulders, carried her around the bases allowing her to gently drop a foot at each base along the way. As they crossed home base together Sara was handed off to a group of cheering, grateful and teary teammates.

There were less than 100 people in attendance that day, but the video of this “softball miracle” has reached nearly 300,000 people and touched thousands of others with the remarkable show of character, grace and the ability to “do the right thing” and expose the façades that we all unknowingly hide behind in our daily lives.

The big word these days in the church is that we are living in an adaptive climate where the solutions to our challenges are not going to come from our usual toolbox, from the rules and regulations that we already have in place, but through thinking in creative and experimental ways to play an old game in a new way.

Church coaches and consultants will warn us that adaptive change is not for the faint of heart. It requires a great deal of courage, risk-taking and is one of the hardest journeys any organization can face. But really it is not all that complicated.

It is as simple as carrying an injured opposing player around the bases.

It’s as simple as healing on the Sabbath.

It’s as simple as running to the aid of a struggling, young Rose Garden singer.

It’s as simple as “losing your life for my sake, in order to gain it.”

It’s as simple as “doing the right thing” despite how it looks.

It’s as simple as being willing to lose a game in order to bring someone home.

This adaptive change thing is really not all that hard.

All we have to do is act like Jesus—always.

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