“WHAT?” you may ask. Most people around Thanksgiving would be thankful for family, the bible, or God’s love – not swing dancing of all things. But the neat thing is, these subjects are exactly why I am talking about my subject.
Here in town, there are free Swing Dance lessons offered by the local Swing Dance Association every Monday and Wednesday. I have attended them for the past few months. I am only a beginner – but I am learning lots of lessons. I’d like to share with you three of the most important lessons that have impacted me through 3 separate posts – and how they have each increased my thankfulness. Through this, hopefully you will come to realize why I thank God for Swing Dancing – and what a wonderful analogy it is.
1 – I’m thankful for good leads – because leading IS HARD.
In swing dancing, the male is called ‘the lead’. The woman is called ‘the follow’. The lead is the one that guides the follow into all the steps, twists, and turns that we call Swing Dancing. In case you didn’t catch it the first time – being a lead is hard!
Part of the problem, besides getting the basic steps down, is figuring out ‘how to lead’. I mean when I started, I would awkwardly take a lady by the hands and push her and pull her and try to make her do things (sounds kinda wrong, eh? it was). This might partially work if we both know what is going to happen, like in a class-environment. Out on the swing dance floor, though, there is no script for the two people, so one of them has to take charge. A good lead can help a follow do spins and moves that she has never done before in her life. This is an amazing opportunity and a huge responsibility. But in this same sense, I want to highlight that each of you is a lead of some sort – but they go by different titles – like Dad, Mom, Supervisor, Husband, Pastor, Elder, and one we all fit in: ‘Friend’.
How do you, as a lead, help your follow do a move? One lesson I’ve learned is that the biggest tool we have is usually one that we tend to ignore – in Dancing, it’s the right hand of the lead that is put on the follow’s back. I was ignoring the right hand because I felt strange touching someone I didn’t know – call it the ‘awkward engineer disease.’ This right hand, though, is the small rudder that turns the ship this way or that. And in thinking about the rudder example – it reminded me of James 3 which also speaks of a rudder. I am going to just quickly review James 3 -I recommend reading the whole chapter.
James 3 is the chapter about the tongue – a small tool we have that can build up or tear down – and sometimes we forget its power. But in studying it, the reason James talks about the tongue, is that he started with ‘let not many of you become teachers since we shall receive the stricter judgment’. Another term for teaching is leading – and James is warning that the more leading you do, the more you are held accountable. When James wrote this chapter he connected teaching, which you do with words, which are driven by the tongue, which produce fruits, which display whats in our hearts. James is connecting teaching and leading with our heart. With our tongue, the tone and direction we lead them is a sign of where our heart is. We can be negative – or we can be positive. It’s the lead’s decision. It’s our decision.
If the tongue is our version of the lead’s right hand on the follow’s back – do we have control of that hand (i.e. our tongue)? Is it just limply there and not providing direction (i.e. babbling)? Or is that hand too-rough causing bruising? Or does it have a finesse which tells the follow what it needs to know to become a better dancer.
This is not an easy task – and I thank all of you leads that are using your tongue in the right way. James explains in his book how the cards are stacked against us in regards to our tongue – he calls the tongue “an unruly evil, full of deadly poison”. But he also says that we, leads, should rise above this – because the reason our tongue does this is because of what is sitting in our heart. If we find ourselves leading our follow into a swing dance of hopelessness, we need to step back and re-evaluate what is going on inside ourselves. Leads will have the stricter judgement – and we must remember there is always hope – because God is really in control.
[Part 1: I’m Thankful for Good Leads]
[Part 2: I’m Thankful for Good Follows]
[Part 3: Be Thankful for the Music]