Director of Empowerment

For me, February epitomizes “Groundhog Day” (1993) in reverse: in this crucial month of JJ progress, I feel as if I don’t change while everyone else changes around me. This is especially true as I get older and directing is (more) routine: my role is much more about coordinating many student leaders, choreographers, coaches, and Jugheads, but one may be surprised at how rarely I actually come up with ideas from scratch. (My strength is in tweaking existing ideas.) Even this winter, I’ve still struggled against that reality, thinking that I’m “scamming” people who may assume that every dance move, juggling trick, team triumph, or even life lesson somehow originated from me. But my ongoing solace is that to be a good director, I need not also be a good choreographer; instead, I need to help to bring out others’ talents. (I credit Wendy and several trusted parents and grads for that reminder.)

Recent Jughead graduate Erica Liddle (Class of ‘14) blessed me years ago with a saying by John Maxwell, and her calligraphy still hangs in my office: “Leaders become great, not because of their power, but because of their ability to empower others.” That’s the goal for every leader that pours into our JJ rehearsals (23 official leaders at last count). Even if a leader changes little, one’s job is to empower others to change. Even so, in my heart and theology, I know that I am changing (even if imperceptibly at first), trusting my ultimate Choreographer and Director to weave all moves together into this Juggle Jam called “Life.”

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