First to stand up? Or first to punk out?


I read this yesterday on Love is an Orientation. It’s from Michael Kimpan, associate director of The Marin Foundation.

It made me think all day.

He shared the story of how the crowd at Wrigley turned on a fan, not because he was a Brewers fan, but because he had acne. As the crowd chanted “pizza face” with an increasing furor, Michael and Andrew knew they needed to do something. And they did. They got all indignant up in the holy hallowed halls of Wrigley Field. They stood up. And they acted. And they didn’t stop acting until something changed. And, to their bewilderment, the same people who once did nothing stopped them to thank them.

Michael wrapped it up with this thought:

As we sat there in amazement at the preceding events, Andrew and I chuckled at our seeming ability to instigate near riots in everyday situations. We just wanted to go to a Cubs game! How did we get ourselves into these kinds of situations?

It’s because we insert ourselves,’ Andrew said. ‘For us, this isn’t just something we talk about. It’s something we live every day. People are waiting for someone to speak up – they’re just afraid to be the first one.

And having inserted ourselves, we saw the power of the voice of ‘the first.’ When the first person refuses to sit in silence, but instead calls out oppression for what it is, being willing to stand in solidarity with those being pushed to the margins and mistreated, others follow suit. Courage is contagious, and boldness is infectious.


This was convicting because I can think of all the times I’ve punk’d out. 

Someone says something terrible or uses their power to hold someone back… and my brain starts making calculations…. Risk vs. reward… do I cash in my chips? Do I go all in? Is this instance worth it?

Is standing up right now worth…

  • Getting punched?
  • Getting cussed out?
  • Getting called a hypocrite?
  • Getting mocked?
  • Getting fired?
  • Getting overlooked?
  • Getting labeled the guy who speaks up “inappropriately”?

The sad reality

I can reflect on dozens of times I’ve done that calculation and concluded… it’s not worth it. Or it’s not my battle to fight. Or it’s not my job. Or this isn’t a good time.

Or some other lame excuse for not being the first person to stand up.

There is always a next time

Sure. I can reflect on the times when I’ve punk’d out. And I’m sure I could make myself feel better by reflecting on times when I was the first to stand up and take the risk.

The point isn’t that we sometimes get it right and we sometimes get it wrong.

The point is that there’ll be a next time. And for that next time I’m reminded that those risk vs reward calculations aren’t reflective of my reality as a believer.

The Apostle Paul reminds us.

you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.

1 Corinthians 6:20

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Ephesians 2:10

In light of that. Risk sure seems less risky. 






One response to “First to stand up? Or first to punk out?”

  1. Joel Mayward Avatar
    Joel Mayward

    Man, when I read the story on Andrew’s blog, I had such a range of emotions: anger at the oppressors and security guards who allowed it to happen; empathy with the victim; conviction and guilt about the moments where I quietly sat on my hands or looked the other way instead of stood up against injustice. I’m so thankful for the grace that allows the onlooker, the victim, and the oppressor to experience forgiveness and hope in the midst of a broken world.

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