I have a friend who once told me, “Never trust a leader who doesn’t walk with a limp.”
I can’t tell you how true I’ve found those words to be. If there was ever a proverb that I thought should go beyond fortune cookie status and into the good book it would be that one. It’s something I tell everyone I know who aspires to leadership or to followership. I’ve seen far too many, met too many, followed too many people who had it all together. Of course it was an illusion but an illusion they believed.
But can I wrestle with this with you?
Here it is. In our desire to be honest, authentic and true-faced in our little community I find that sometimes when we come together in small groups, people primarily want to (even if they have to search hard for it) have a negative to share. That somehow we can only be authentic if we’re lamenting or struggling or not happy with what God is up to. You almost feel embarrassed now to share with the group that God is really doing amazing things in your life after the last three people have shared how distant God seems, how their best-friend has something incureable and their mom called to tell them what a huge disappointment they are. I’m afraid that, in our case, the freedom to be honest has made us swing wide into a place that’s as dishonest as the bright, shiney, happy people.
I’ve been with people in the third world. I’ve been with people who had little or nothing. I’ve had the opportunity to spend time with men and women who were in danger just because they believed that God is and that Jesus is still alive. I’ve been with people who suffer health wise because of their conditions, who are doing really well if they get one meal a day. Some are Christians, some are not.
In all these cases I’ve seen bright smiles, warm embraces and a desire to give out of the little or nothing that they have as a sign of friendship or appreciation. I’ve never thought of them as fake or wearing a mask because they chose to emphasize the good rather than the lack. Rather, I’ve marvelled. They didn’t deny the lack – though in some cases only I perceived any lack coming from my affluence – but they didn’t make the lack, hurt or loss what they are about.
I am absolutely sick of people who aren’t true and pretend that all is well when the house is on fire. I’m a firm believer that no one should follow a leader who doesn’t walk with a limp but I don’t think we should make the limp the centre of who we are and what we do. But do we have to swing to one end or the other? Is the only alternative to the bright, shiney, happy people the sack-cloth and ashes crew?
I want to find that radical middle where we can rejoice in our suffering. That place where we can be hurting but still throw a damn good party. Where we can be brutally honest and loved just was we are and then say, “nevertheless, I’m still going to dance”.