The Gift of Opportunity

The Gift of Opportunity

I was twenty-two years old when I took a part-time job with First United Methodist in downtown Oklahoma City doing something I had no business doing—running a drama team.  How can that be, you might ask. After all, I currently work as the head writer at The Skit Guys.  But let me tell you how I got there.  It wasn’t because I had any idea what to do with a skit.

How I ended up writing comedy sketches for the Skit Guys is a bit of an anomaly.  OK, it’s a full-blown anomaly.  Let’s back up twenty something years, to a downtown church called First United Methodist.

When I was hired to be the drama director, I had the following holes in my resume:

  • Never been in a play
  • Never studied theater
  • Never worked for a church
  • Didn’t understand blocking on stage
  • Hadn’t a clue about any stage lingo

I could go on but it’s getting embarrassing.  The point is, what was a young woman doing developing a drama team for a church who had never seen a skit on a Sunday morning, much less a comedy sketch, or even been in a single play?

It all started with a guy named Craig Groeschel.  I started going to a ministry for singles he had started downtown (also no experience going downtown or driving on one-way streets. It’s a miracle that I’m still here).

Craig had this idea for comedy skits in his Friday night ministry.  He knew I liked writing and he asked if I thought I could write one.  “Sure,” I shrugged, like it was no big deal.

Internally, though, I knew I didn’t know much about them.  But I figured it was pretty simple: you get a group of people together, write them some funny lines, and off you go.

Well, it was a little harder than that.  The “group of people” were about as qualified as I was.  A couple of them had starred in big productions, and the rest had only seen the stage in their dreams.

But together, this ragtag team somehow managed to pull off a skit about how difficult it is to hear and talk through the intercom at a McDonald’s drive-thru.  The roar of laughter had me instantly addicted.

Before we knew it, we were asked to start performing on Sunday mornings. Sunday mornings???  At a Methodist Church?  I remember thinking, “Does anyone know I don’t know what I’m doing?”

I guess I just ran with it—fake it ‘til you make it, as they say.

But I knew that I wanted to write.  And directly in front of me, at the fragile age of twenty-two, I had a writing opportunity.  Would I let inexperience stop me?  Or the idea that I’d never even thought about writing skits?  I’d barely been to the theater.

I let the actors teach me a few things (like how to block).  We always had this running joke that if it were up to me, I’d be happy to let them just stand up there and deliver my hilarious lines without even moving.  I had a lot to learn!  But the more we did it, the better we got. Pretty soon, we were in demand, and not just at our church, but at other churches.  I started sending in my scripts to see if I could get them published, and sure enough, a company called Communication Resources bought one.  And then another.

That publishing credit opened a new door for me—publishing my first novel.

So what is the point of this story?

Well, I simply don’t want you to miss the gift of opportunity.  And sometimes we miss these gifts because they’re not wrapped up the way we expect.  When I took that job with Craig, writing these skits, that wasn’t the dream.  I had ambitions to be a feature length screenwriter, not a church skit writer.  But man, what a gift that was.

That job honed my comedy skills more than anything I had done before or since.  In fact, I didn’t even know I was good at comedy until I wrote it!  Could I have seen twenty years into the future, to know I would be writing comedy for the comedy duo, the Skit Guys?

Not a chance.

But I trusted the gift of opportunity.  And by writing in front of a live audience, I was able to test jokes in real time.  There’s nothing better for a comedy writer.

Through the years, I’ve taken some really different writing jobs. I once wrote for a comic series.  I don’t know what doors that opened (or shut, haha!), but there it was, an opportunity. I grabbed it.

There’s a ladder to climb, to whatever dream you have.  In your mind, you have your own ideas of what those rungs look like.  Give some thought to taking those rungs out.  You gotta get up somehow—what else might get you there?  A rope? A stool?  Perhaps a wrapped gift with a nice bow?

Agree that you won’t dismiss any opportunity without a little bit of thought.  Not everything is going to be a perfect opportunity, but even in the imperfect ones can add a skill, teach a lesson, brighten a resume, introduce a connection or give you practice—and all of these are gifts!

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  1. I love that story! I love that you were willing to take on that opportunity without the experience. A lot of folks would have turned it down because they lacked the skills and feared failure. In fact, most of my life I’ve been in that too-scared-to-try camp. I’m only now learning to accept opportunities that seem beyond my capabilities. It’s amazing what we can learn if we have to!