There is a great gulf separating “being told” and “being shown.” In the 1970’s a young Texas couple moved to North Alabama trying to accomplish several things, most notably and needed among them: growing up. I’d like a show of hands: How many suspect that I am referring to myself and the Red-Headed Irish Princess? Well done, we shall continue…
Many lessons were awaiting discovery in God’s “wisdom cache” for us. The one I reference now is at the convergence of the male ego (of a Texan), an old mare hitched to a single-tree, and a shrivelled up, but wise and patient older man.
Renting an old cinder block house from Raymond and Lena came with several perks. Beauty and elegance were not on that list. The house was bare essentials, having had a bathroom added a few years before. It was adequate, comfortable, and cheap. The $50/month stretched me a little, but Raymond said he would help me put in a garden so I could “lay by” some vegetables to save more than the rent each month in food savings alone.
In addition to the anticipation of the fresh, self-canned and/or frozen vegetables, Lena took a special interest in me and taught the Princess how to make biscuits from “scratch” using White Lily Self-Risin’ Flour, or perhaps it was Martha White. Not Important here, moving on…
The Princess became so adept at her new skill that even my shadow grew heavier. In the early Spring, Raymond announced it was time to “lay off” and plant the garden. I watched with interest as he “broke” and “disced” the garden spots (both his and mine) with his tractor and implements. Being no novice to this part of the process, I enjoyed the smell of the newly turned soil.
The next stage of the operation was the breaking of “new ground” within me: laying off the garden with a mare and a single-tree. I listened as Raymond explained the process, confident that since this old, small and clearly worn man could do this, a strong Texan could easily navigate the same. Not new to the hubris of young men and sensing his student was not yet up to the task, Raymond volunteered to “work the mare” while I kept the plow on course.
If you have ever done this yourself, you know how that first row turned out. Go ahead and laugh. Forty years hence this Texas male ego has been moderated by God’s design at every opportunity. Besides that, it was pretty funny. I think the mare was even laughing at me. Raymond’s only audible observation was that crooked rows grow more than straight ones.
He then showed me how to do it. While not an award-winning performance, the next attempt was respectable. He had taken the time to walk with me, coach me, and show me (not just tell me) how it was done. That is what leadership looks like, especially spiritual leadership. That’s what Jesus did by wrapping himself in humanity and “being tempted in all points, like as we.”
I can do that for others, not perfectly like Jesus… but I can do that for others. The only way it works though, is if I am ALL IN. It’s not a job that can be done by “temps.”