If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got. At the same time, if you always do what everyone else does, you’ll always get what everyone else gets. But sometimes, just sometimes, when you step out of the mold, stare down the critics, and do things a little differently, you just might take home the gold.
In 1968, the high jump was forever changed. Until that time, people commonly used techniques like the Scissor Jump:
Or the Western Roll:
Or the most popular was the Straddle Technique:
Then, Dick Fosbury came on the scene. Here was a young man who basically stunk at the high jump. He just couldn’t seem to get the necessary coordination together to truly compete. But instead of giving up, he noticed that the rules didn’t say anything about how to go over the bar. They simply talked about how to take off. So Fosbury began to experiment with different techniques.
He decided to try something different. He curved up to the bar on the approach and then launched himself in the air, twisting so that his back was toward the bar, arched his back over the bar, then lifted his legs up so they cleared. Surely there was something wrong with this. But, no. It was perfectly legal. The critics laughed at him saying he looked like a flopping fish. But Fosbury kept at it.
In the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City, folks laughed at first, but then were enthralled as Fosbury kept clearing his jumps on his first attempts. He jumped his way to the Gold Medal, a United States record, and an Olympic record. Today, almost everyone jumps the high jump using what has now become known as the Fosbury Flop.
Here’s the take away. As Christians and in churches, we want to make sure we always live by the guide God has given us. Just as Fosbury reviewed the rules and made sure his approach was sound, we need to do so with the Bible. However, we must not mistake what everyone has always done for Biblical doctrine. Further, we must not mistake what everyone else criticizes for error. Lots and lots of churches and Christians are sitting around bemoaning the terrible results they have from the way they are living their lives and running their congregations. Perhaps we need to quit worrying about the critics, quit worrying about what has always been done, and just try something different (so long as it is still scriptural).
As long as we’re following the guidelines God has established, in the end, we’ll take home the crown, no matter what anyone else says about it.