February 14, 2013

The Best Bad Idea We've Got

I recently watched the movie "Argo". This post is not a movie review OR a recommendation to watch the movie. But if you are any student of history and don't know this backstory about the Iran hostage crisis in the late 70's, I would highly encourage you look into it. It's fascinating to discover that because so much light was being shed on one aspect or side of a story that another side of it that most didn't even know existed was overlooked, overshadowed, or possibly just plain flat ignored. For the sake of shedding enough light on this post, allow me to share with you a brief rundown from our friends at Wikipedia:

"Militants storm the U.S. embassy in Tehran on November 4, 1979, in retaliation for that nation's sheltering the recently deposed Shah. More than 50 of the embassy staff are taken as hostages, but six escape and hide in the home of the Canadian ambassador Ken Taylor (Victor Garber). With the escapees' situation kept secret, the US State Department begins to explore options for "exfiltrating" them from Iran. Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck), a CIA exfiltration specialist brought in for consultation, criticizes the proposals. He too is at a loss for an alternative until, inspired at home by watching Battle for the Planet of the Apes on TV with his son, he plans to create a cover story that the escapees are Canadian filmmakers, scouting "exotic" locations in Iran for a similar sci-fi film." Sounds crazy, right? Because it was.

As Tony Mendez is confronted by two members of the Cabinet, one of them hits him with the sarcasm-laced question: "Don't you have any other bad ideas?" In quick response, Mendez's agency boss (played by Bryan Cranston) replies, "It's the best bad idea we've got!" This statement and conclusion - that we're in a situation where there appear to be no "good ideas" - and the willingness to act in spite of this conclusion, are great insight into a necessary characteristic of leadership. Sometimes, you simply have to be willing to do something.

I think we often forget that NO response - that doing nothing, not caring, not acting, pretending a problem doesn't exist or standing with our hands in our pockets because there's just no real way to come out a winner - is still a response. Leaders are often revealed and refined in times where there are no good options. They still see that something must be done, a need must be met, a wrong-doing must be confronted, and they act. They move. They go. They don't wait for someone else to exhort them; they exhort by example. (Another great example of this is Mel Gibson's character, Lieutenant General Hal Moore, who led 400 young soldiers into a fight against 2000 North Vietnamese at the beginning of the Vietnam War. While they flew in knowing that this was potentially a lose-lose situation, Moore's feet were the "first to hit the field, and the last one to come off".) In Argo, we learn that Mendez, acknowledging that there "are only bad options. It's about picking the best one." is also the one to say, "I'll go. I'll get them out." While everyone else stood by, paralyzed, he acted. And ultimately, he saved 6 lives.

God may not call you to fly into a foreign country like a spy and rescue hostages. But He may very likely give you to opportunity to what's RIGHT rather than what's EASY or CONVENIENT. You will most definitely get the chance to STAND when everyone else remains SEATED. And to put it another way, as Christ-followers, you will constantly be called to walk the road that's NARROW while countless others keep stumbling down the big, wide path to nowhere. And when it happens, there is great likelihood that you will face more opposition and criticism than support. For encouragement in this area, remember that Jesus knew this scenario very well. 

When all you have left in your arsenal is "the best bad idea we've got", will you still be ready and willing to use it? 

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