Skip to main content

follow

I went dancing Saturday night. Dean was supposed to come with me as we joined a bunch of friends at a swing dance club, but he was working all weekend and had no energy left to give, not even to one of his favourite activities. Dancing is something I have come to late in life; growing up in a conservative Mennonite community offered little opportunity to learn this social skill. This was my third time at this club and I proudly noted that I was no longer the least skilled person on the floor. After the basic lesson at the beginning of the evening, I danced with several in our group of friends and a few guys I had met during the group lesson. I so admire men who are learning to dance. They are the ones that have to lead, even when their partner might be more skilled than they are. I tried to be as helpful as I could be to the guys who had never done this before - helpful, yes, while never crossing the line of usurping their leadership role. There can only be one leader on the dance floor. One person who gives the cues.

It is tough to follow someone who has not quite learned how to lead. We are tempted to over-help, otherwise known as pushing the struggling person's attempt at leading aside, opting for efficiency over learning opportunities. I have had many patient and gifted teachers in my life, but of equal value to me are the gracious and willing followers who refuse to do it for me, who keep their hands relaxed and pliable, waiting, when they could easily be the ones giving clear direction. These faithful friends see potential in me and sacrifice their own comfort or performance in order to let me learn this difficult and multi-faceted coordination challenge called leadership.

They thrust me into the spotlight and applaud when I falteringly get something right. They are right behind me, offering encouragement forward, but not too proud to step backwards if I need to gather my strength and courage. They are not hesitant to try it again and again, letting me gain confidence and improve my abilties. They will even take a fall and join me on my butt on the floor if that's what needs to happen in order for me to learn from a mistake. They urge me not to give up, not to be too hard on myself, and tell me that yes, I will eventually get it.

It is true that there are not many great leaders in this world, but I say there are not many great followers either. I am taking lessons in both.
This is me and Jaclyn doing Dance Dance Revolution. Photo credit to Dean.

Comments

Anonymous said…
A Mennonite... ...Dancing? WOW!!! That is really rare!!

Popular posts from this blog

the songs we sing

NOTE: I am going to make some pretty strong statements below, but understand that it is my way of taking an honest, hard look at my own worship experience and practice. My desire is not to be overly critical, but to open up dialogue by questioning things I have assumed were totally fine and appropriate. In other words, I am preaching to myself. Feel free to listen in.

---------------------

When I am in a church meeting during the singing time, I sometimes find myself silent, unable to get the words past my lips. At times I just need a moment of stillness, time to listen, but other times, the words make me pause because I don't know that I can sing them honestly or with integrity. This is a good thing. We should never mindlessly or heartlessly sing songs just because everyone else is. We should care deeply about what we say in our sung, communal worship.

At their best, songs sung by the gathered body of Christ call to life what is already in us: the hope, the truth, the longing, t…

comedic timing

One of my favourite jokes goes like this:
Knock, knock.
Who's there?
Interrupting cow
Interrupting cow w---
Moooooooo!!

Timing is important in both drama and comedy. A well-paced story draws the audience in and helps it invest in the characters, while a tale too hastily told or too long drawn out will fail to engage anyone. Surprise - something which interrupts the expected - is a creative use of timing and integral to any good story. If someone is reading a novel and everything unfolds in a predictable manner, they will probably wonder why they bothered reading the book. And so it is in life. Having life be predictable all of the time is not as calming as it sounds. We love surprises, especially good surprises like birthday parties, gifts, marriage proposals, and finding something that we thought was lost. Surprises are an important part of humour. A good joke is funny because it goes to a place you didn't expect it to go. Similarly, comedic timing allows something unexpected …

singing lessons

When I was a young child, a visiting preacher came to our country church. He brought his two daughters with him, and before he gave his sermon, they sang beautiful duets about Jesus. They had lovely voices which blended well. The preacher, meaning to impress on us their God-given musical talent, mentioned that the girls had never had any singing lessons. The congregation nodded and ooohhed in appreciation. I was puzzled. I didn't understand how not learning was a point of grace or even pride. After all, people who have natural abilities in sports, math, writing, art, or science find it extremely helpful to study under teachers who can aid them in their development and introduce them to things outside their own experience. Being self-taught (though sometimes the only option available to those with limited resources) is not a cause for pride or celebration. Why? Because that's just not how the communal, relational Creator set things up.

I have been singing since I was a child. …