When Big Ideas spin out of control

This Friday, theaters will see the release of “The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything,” the latest offering from Big Idea productions (the home of Veggie Tales). My family caught the veggie bug early, and at one point I briefly considered leaving my career to seek work with what I thought was a long-overdue counterweight in the media universe. In the end I was glad I didn’t, because the Idea became a nightmare for a lot of people. It survived, but was forever changed. And maybe–just maybe–some lessons were learned along the way… and not just for Phil Vischer.

What does it mean when God gives a dream, and the dream comes true, and then it dies? And what if the dream envelopes a whole lot of people before it dies for them too?

And why would a man who achieved early and spectacular business success stop using the word “dream”?

At age 21, Phil Vischer had created VeggieTales to make cartoons with content. To staff the work, he incorporated Big Idea. By his early 30s, he was helmsman of the biggest animation enterprise between New York and L.A. By his mid-30s, he was in bankruptcy court.

I was pursuing impact, success—measured in fairly good terms: helping kids and families. But that was my god: success, ministry success. And we don’t have the impact God has planned for us when we’re pursuing impact; we have it when we’re pursuing God. That was probably the single biggest lesson of all: I was simply chasing the wrong thing… You can be a banker or a senior pastor but still chasing the same stuff.


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