throw out the bad grapes

I’m a sucker for documentaries. I could watch one after another. It doesn’t even matter what the subject matter is. I love to learn about everything. As a result, I know a little bit about a ton of different things.

The other day, I watched a film entitled A Year in Burgundy. It is the story of the wine made in the Burgundy region of France where the filmmakers look into all the different philosophies of wine and the best ways to create it. For some of the vineyard owners, it was all about the science and very quantitative; to others, it was an art form and something elusive. There was one thing that pretty much every vintner agreed on, and that was to eliminate the bad grapes.

There were scenes of people picking out bad grapes on a conveyor belt. There were speeches to the grape pickers about eliminating bad grapes before they go into the buckets.

The whole time I was watching these scenes, I kept thinking about all the work that went into those bad grapes. Even though they were bad, they still put as much work into growing them as they had good grapes. All the bad grapes were bad for different reasons…rot, hail damage, bruised…but they were all bad.

The reason these grapes were thrown out was that they would affect the end product. Among the vineyard owners, the scientists would simply say bad grapes make bad wine. The artists among them would say you could taste the hail damage in the wine.

At this point, you’re probably wondering what this has to do with anything.

Well, by the end of this movie, I was really impressed with the discipline it took to get rid of the less-than-perfect grapes for the sake of the final product. If I were in their shoes and really knew how much work was involved, would I be able to do what was best for the end result? How many times have I sacrificed the best for the end result for the sake of a bad grape? A less than perfect stage setup or a slightly lazy lighting cue? To spend countless hours on a video, then knowing it isn’t quite there, played it in the service anyway? To keep a chronically late volunteer on the team because, after all, they’re volunteering.

Regardless of the work I’ve put in or the team has put in, it might still be a bad grape.

There was a big service at Willow Creek that we had spent a ton of energy to make the set a certain way to achieve a certain result. It was a lot of work. However, in the end, it wasn’t right for the service, so we ended up scraping it. For some people on the team, this really bothered them. To others, it was the exact right call.

I realize that many of the situations we find ourselves in are way more complicated than good grape/bad grape, but the question still remains: Is the thing I’ve spent so much time on going to make the end product better or worse?

Are we willing to sacrifice all of our efforts if necessary, for the sake of the end result?

Will we have enough discipline to set aside the less than best for the benefit of what we are really trying to do?

Which is hopefully to create life-changing moments through the fusion of the technical and creative arts.

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