Posted by: jaimemwsanders | June 29, 2013

leading and following

I wouldn’t have expected a business school professor to teach a tango lesson, but that is what happened at the Kellogg School last week.  No, we didn’t get dressed up, and we didn’t actually reach tango-ing, but we put hands on our partner’s shoulders and practiced leading and following.  The epiphany for me was the difference between “following,” and “anticipating.”  Following takes a heck of a lot of trust, so I prefer to anticipate.  While pretending to follow, I am trying to guess where the leader will want to go next.  True following, the professor explained, requires being ready at any time to move in any direction.

When I came to St. Mary’s I thought I knew what my job here would be.  I would be the pivot priest, taking the congregation into being able to imagine a multigenerational, multilingual future.  Actually taking them there would be someone else’s job: someone who is younger, and knows Spanish, and has experience with family and children’s ministry.  God, I thought, would call me in a few years to another congregation which would use my cultural background.

That isn’t what has happened.  St. Mary’s has changed faster than I thought would be possible, and I am still here.  God listens to prayers, but not to direction.

At the end of the tango lesson, when I realized that I had been trying to anticipate God, and that instead I need to learn to follow, I started to cry.  Trust is hard.  Letting go of expectations is hard.  But I have to trust that God sees gifts in me that I don’t see – gifts that aren’t matured yet.  That this old, over-educated, Anglo woman can learn to tango.


  1. Jaime, this is so true and so moving. Blessings on your continuing ministry.

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