I have always been fascinated by the life and legacy of Walt Disney. It was no surprise that when the movie Saving Mr. Banks came out about Walt’s courtship of Helen Goff who wrote Mary Poppins under the pen name P.L. Travers, that Hailey and I were headed to the theater. The movie is a fascinating account of how the movie Mary Poppins came to be. After watching the film, it piqued an even deeper curiosity about Walt and the empire that bears his name.
In 1934, Walt aimed to do something never before done in the movie industry: create a successful full-length animated feature film. In creating Snow White, Disney invested most of the company’s resources and defied those in the industry that called it “Disney’s Folly.” The thought from outsiders was that there was no way, anyone would want to sit through a full-feature animated film. Two decades later, after the success of Pinocchio, Fantasia, and Bambi, Disney made another bold and risky move: to build a radically new kind of amusement park, later to become known as Disneyland. In the 1960s, Disney repeated the process again, with the help of Walt’s brother, Roy, and a commitment to fulfill his dying dream: EPCOT center in Florida.
While there are many things that set Walt apart, two of the most noticeable were his commitment to innovation and willingness to take risks. While risks don’t always come without pain, they are worth taking. When I look at the life of Walt Disney and his commitment to this end, I can’t help but think about the gospel. What would my life look like if I took more risks for the sake of the His Kingdom? What if I stopped being ashamed and stopped making excuses to engage those around me? What if I sought to innovate not for innovation sake, but rather for the sake of the Kingdom? What if I more consistently adopted a whatever it takes mentality, without changing my core beliefs, yet speaking and relating to those around me in a way that speaks their heart language? What if I really began to believe that God could plant the seeds of revival and awakening in my heart and in the hearts of the people of ORBC? Could it be that the spark He plants in me and you be the spark, through our faith and repentance, that sets the world ablaze with a passion for proclaiming His name?
In many ways, I want to be just like Walt Disney. I want to be a risk taker who is firmly committed and principled in his beliefs. But more than Walt, I want to be just like Jesus, a man who was firmly committed to his Father’s cause and willing to risk it all, even to the point of death for what he believed. In the end, Jesus will always be greater than Walt and in the end Jesus will always be worth the risks.