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Let the Boogie-Woogie Out

09 Apr Spiritual Formation | Comments Off on Let the Boogie-Woogie Out
Let the Boogie-Woogie Out

I went running last summer with a friend in the 95 degree Georgia heat and loved every minute of it. My friend decided to go running with me even though he hadn’t been running very much lately and knew it would be very difficult for him. We knew going in that there would be a few times on the run that he would need to take a break and walk a bit.

There was one hill towards the last part of the run that was tough and my hope was to encourage him to run it out to the top of the hill, which he did. Once we got to the top of the hill I knew he would be ready to start cooling down and walk even though we still had almost a mile left in the run.

This forced me into a decision. I could walk out the rest of the run with him or I could run on ahead and finish the run. The reality is that I was beginning to run out of steam as well, but I knew I had it in me to finish running. This wasn’t new to me, and I had run this distance in these conditions countless times before.

As I considered whether to walk with him or run it out, leaving him behind, this thought struck me: “I can’t hold back because of him. The best thing I can do for him and for me is to finish this run strong.” Walking with him wouldn’t have pushed him at all and it certainly wouldn’t have pushed me in what I knew I had the ability to do.

I had the capacity and ability to finish the run, which means I also had the responsibility to finish the run.

So I told myself on that hot and humid country road, “I have the ability to finish running, so I MUST finish running.” If I held back to walk with him, I’d actually harm his progress as a runner.

Let the boogie out

I’ve been listening to John Lee Hooker for years and one of my favorite songs is “Boogie Chillen”. In that song he says, “I heard momma and poppa talking. I heard poppa tell momma to ‘Let that boy boogie-woogie. Cause it’s in him, and it’s got to come out.’”

I think God has given each of us a little boogie-woogie. It’s those gifts, strengths, abilities, passions, that are simply in us and they have to come out.

Some of us have to write. Some of us have to sing. Some of us have to work in the soil. Some of us have to create order out of organizational chaos. Some of us have to work with numbers. Some of us have to speak. Some of us have to investigate further. Some of us have to give our opinion. Some of us have to throw parties. Some of us have to paint. Some of us have to run.

We all have a little boogie-woogie in us and we’ll know what it is because it’s that thing that has to come out.

Don’t Hold Back

I have the privilege of having friends all around the country who are dynamic communicators in their local churches. Most of them share teaching responsibilities with a team of communicators at their church. I was talking to a friend of mine once that is part of a team of communicators at their church and he was describing a strange tension that could develop on a team of teachers.

With the different personalities and styles among the communicators on their team the church had the potential to really connect with one or two of the teachers but not with the others.

He asked me whether or not he should hold back on his creativity in communicating so that he doesn’t make the other communicators look less creative, or less relevant.

I told him as strongly as I could, “Absolutely not. Do not hold back what is in your ability to create.” I told my friend that he ought to go all out, and as that happenss the bar will be raised for every other communicator on his team.

Holding back does nothing to push them or my friend. That would be the worst thing to do.

If you are leading at a church, your church needs you to hold nothing back.

I read this from Steven Pressfield recently in his book, “The War of Art”:

“The awakening artist must be ruthless, not only with herself but with others. Once you make your break, you can’t turn around for your buddy who catches his trouser leg on a barbed wire. The best thing you can do for that friend (and he’d tell you this himself, if he really is your friend) is to get over the wall and keep motivating. The best and only thing that one artist can do for another is to serve as an example and an inspiration.

You cannot, you MUST NOT, hold back what you have the ability to do because you don’t want to leave others behind. In fact, you may even be guilted by some around you to hold back, just be simple, just walk a little while, just do what everyone else does, etc… To these you must say, “I have it in me and it has to come out.”

Holding back on what you have the ability to do helps nobodyin the long run.

Yes I know that there are moments where leadership may mean you and I going back and walking with someone when they need us to walk. But I’m convinced that most of the time, true leadership is running ahead when you it’s in your capacity to do so, all the while encouraging and inspiring those who feel like they need to walk to pick up the pace. To push themselves past comfort so they will go to another level.

And it’s no small point that after I finished the run, I looked back and saw my friend finishing his run also.

And he was running.
Jason Mitchell
Campus Pastor at LCBC Church
Jason is a Campus Pastor at LCBC Church (Lives Changed By Christ). He loves taking runs, drinking coffee, listening to all things rock and roll, and spending time with his wife Jenny and their two kids, Sienna and Silas.