in my seminar this past weekend on ‘leading change in your youth ministry’, we were deep into a discussion on level 5 leadership (a term from the book good to great). researchers found, if you haven’t read good to great, that leaders in organizations that moved from (their definition of) good to (their definition of) great, were cut from the same cloth, and it was surprising and counter-intuitive. these leaders had a surprising combination of professional will and personal humility. they look ‘in a mirror’ when it’s time to apportion blame, and look ‘out the window’ when it’s time to apportion praise.
just as we’d finished talking about this, three belly-dancers came into the back of our room and started belly-dancing up the main aisle. i’m not kidding. it was probably the single most random thing that has even happened to me in the middle of a seminar presentation. i assumed they were with our convention ‘a-team’ (the affirmation team, who exist to be silly and affirm people at the event), which was partially true. i found out later they were real belly-dancers who were part of a conference for women in another part of the convention center, and they heard about our event and wanted to ‘help’ (i’m not sure belly-dancing up seminar aisles is ‘help’, but it is intriguing that they had this desire). i sent them through a door in the airwall into les christie’s seminar on games, which was (very loudly) happening in the room behind us. but a couple minutes later they popped back into our room, a bit lost and not sure where to go next.
after they left, i said something like, “i need to go back to my office, look in the mirror, and ask myself how i have failed this organization that we would have belly-dancers making interruptions in seminars.”
then, in my seminar the next day on creative teaching for middle school ministry, i’d discovered that chap clark was doing a serious seminar (on the content of his book ‘hurt’) in the room behind me. i’d teased him that we might come up to the airwall and pound on it during the seminar.
he beat me to the punch. 30 minutes into the seminar, there was a massive pounding from the other side. i hung my head and told our seminar audience that it would be completely lame for us to merely respond by doing the same thing, and that we, the middle school people, should be able to be much more creative than to merely copy. i asked if anyone had a suggestion. someone yelled out, “let’s do a chinese fire drill” (i’m guessing this is a north american teenage phenomenon — which it has been since long before i was a teenager, and still is — so i’ll explain: driving in a full car, the driver stops, everyone gets out and runs around the car in a crazed manner, then gets back in the car, usually ending up in different positions. yes, it’s juvenille and absurd, and i have no idea why it’s called a chinese fire drill; anyone know the etymology of that one?). we quickly decided that it would have to be a ‘chinese seminar drill’, since we didn’t have a car. all 200 or 250 of us gather up by the little door in the airwall, then screaming and waving our arms, streamed into chap’s room, running around the entire room and back into ours (though, with 200 or 250 people, it took a bit longer than i expected!). chap pretended to continue teaching and not notice us. but it was a beautiful moment.