There was a period of time in my marriage where my husband and I were taking dance lessons together. It was a great season for us and lots of fun. We would attend lessons weekly, then afterward go to this cute little sandwich shop next door and get a smoothie. We were the youngest and only couple in the class and there were more women than men. The class was held upstairs, on the upper level of a local dance studio in a space that really looked like a large storage closet with a dance floor. The class was taught by a woman but occasionally she would bring in a male friend to help teach the males.
It was great when he would attend because he could really show the guys how to do their steps and there was the added bonus of an extra guy to dance with since you rotated partners. His presence made it possible for everyone to have a chance to lead and follow with a real person instead of us ladies having to dance with our imaginary partners since, like I mentioned there were more ladies than men.
I loved when he would show up and loved dancing with him. Why? because he was a great dancer! He knew how to *lead*! It was easy to *follow* him, he didn't step on my feet (neither did my husband but some of the older gentlemen, well....). He made it look effortless.
What stands out to me the most is the way he led. He could twirl, spin and turn even the most inept partner (aka: me) effortlessly and make us look fabulous! He could lead me into the direction he wanted me to go with little notice. I hardly knew he was leading but because of the style of dance, I knew he was. All it took was a slight turn of his wrist and a bit of leaning in that direction and before I knew it, I was turning. His 'leading' was subtle but intentional, he knew the direction he wanted us both to go.
When you are new to leading on the dance floor, there can be the temptation to forcefully try to get your partner to go into a certain direction. This can cause the partner to fall off balance. The ladies were never off balance when dancing with the male instructor. He didn't throw you around the room while you tried to keep up, tripping over him and yourself. He held his partners close and firm but not so much that you couldn't move. He also knew when to let go to allow you the freedom to move in the direction he was leading with your own flair and style. By the time the routine was over you felt confident, and you ended a better dancer than when you started.
He smiled and looked confident while he danced with you--not apprehensive or scared. He paid attention to his partner the entire time. He was focused and interested in the steps and dancing *with* his partner. He certainly didn't stand there while he spun and twirled her, he had moves of his own to keep up with. If he looked around the room, he would have ended up off balance and out of step leading his partner into failure or danger. (hey! falling on a hard wood floor hurts!)
When I remembered all this recently, I was able to relate this experience to any position of leadership. Husbands, mothers, ministry leaders...'leading' isn't just telling people what to do. It requires attention, confidence, an intentional sense of direction and allowing those you are leading the freedom to follow with their own sense of style and direction. And it helps if you already know the steps and smile a lot. :-)