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  • Writer's pictureTim Hill

We Never Lost Our Dance! - Let's Talk About It (My Final Article as General Overseer of the Church of God)

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I don’t remember the first time Paula and I joined hands, stepped out in an aisle somewhere in a worship service and danced before the Lord. We’ve been doing so for a long time. No, we haven’t danced so much or so often that it has become routine or expected by those around us, but in those moments when only a jubilant dance could express how we truly feel about God’s goodness, we have joyfully and expressively worshipped.

Tim and Paula Hill Dancing in the Spirit at the 78th General Assembly

While for a conservative Pentecostal, anything with a reference to dancing may not be the best analogy, I will say, we have taken our cue from David.

The scene is described in 2 Samuel 6:14 “And David danced before the Lord with all his might, wearing a priestly garment.”

The Ark of the Covenant, created as a symbol of God’s presence and glory, had been lost and forgotten for some seventy years. Kept in the house of Abinadab, David desired to bring the Ark to the city of Jerusalem, so that all Israel could worship the Lord in one place.

Finally, the day had come and after long months and struggles, the Ark was coming into Jerusalem. In great excitement and praise for the Lord, David leaped and danced. He didn’t care that he could have looked ridiculous, his main concern was to openly express his worship to God for His goodness.

David was King of all Israel and some thought this was not behavior suited for a man of his position. Among them was David’s wife Michal. She horrified at her husband’s public display as she watched David from a window as he danced before the Lord. Embarrassed and believing it to be beneath David’s dignity as king, she despised him with all her heart. The truth is, Michal loved David as a King but hated him as a worshipper. David was undeterred by Michal’s criticism and declared, “I will celebrate before the Lord. I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes” (2 Samuel 6:21–22). Without any reservation, David danced before the Lord desiring only to show proper worship to the One who deserves everything.

As your leaders for the last eight years, that’s exactly the way Paula and I have felt. Without a doubt, we have much for which to be thankful and when we just couldn’t contain it any longer, we have danced and rejoiced in the Lord’s presence. In those moments, our hearts have overflowed, our joy couldn’t be contained and our feet couldn’t be still.

As I review our journey and when I look back over our times of worship together, as good as it has been, I do have to acknowledge the realities attached to our exuberant worship unto the Lord and what I call our “Dance of Leadership.”

Sometime, Our Dance came with CHALLENGES.

In 2 Corinthians 11:23-28, Paul articulates the various challenges of his work and ministry, including beatings, stoning, shipwreck, hunger and more. Added to that, Paul wrote that the “daily care of the churches” was a pressure that could not be denied. I can’t compare my life to Paul’s but I can relate in some degree to what he said. There have been multiple challenges over our tenure of service. Time doesn’t permit and it serves no meaningful purpose to list all of the challenges, but there have been many. However, we chose to keep dancing.

Occasionally, Our Dance has been CRITICIZED.

Good leaders expect, welcome, and even appreciate criticism because they know how to keep it in perspective. They do not allow critics to deter them from achieving their higher purpose. I had to learn in my first pastoral assignment over 40 years ago that the higher the purpose, the greater the level of criticism. In fact, criticism is the price of leadership. Criticism is not something I used to handle well—particularly in my early years of leading. I had to come to a place where the decisions I made were not necessarily focused on making people like me. I had to learn that I could not make decisions motivated by a desire to avoid criticism. When you lead people, you influence them. And the only way to influence and motivate people is to constantly be improving, changing, and progressing. You simply can’t do that if you can’t handle criticism.

Aristotle said, “Criticism is something you can avoid—by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing."

So, as calloused as it seems, we had to learn to live with criticism and use it constructively when we could. Again, it serves no purpose to list the criticisms we’ve encountered nor any defensive argument we may have had. Instead, we just kept on dancing!

More often than not, Our Dance was COSTLY.

Jesus asked his disciples a very strong question one day. He asked, “Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?” (Mark 10:38)

No one need aspire to leadership in the work of God who is not prepared to pay a price greater than his contemporaries and colleagues are sometimes willing to pay. True spiritual leadership always exacts a heavy toll on a man and woman including their relationships, their health, their emotions, their time and their family. The more effective the leaders are, the higher the price to be paid. Self-sacrifice is part of the price that must be paid each day. A cross stands in the way of spiritual leadership, a cross upon which the leader must consent to carry with Christ. Of course, the rewards have been multiplied back to us, but nonetheless, the cost often exacted a toll and we were certainly willing to pay.

But ….We didn’t stop dancing.

Now our Dance is COMPLETED

At least on the platform of Church of God Executive Committee service. It’s been a privilege to engage ministry with you for a total of 8 years as General Overseer and a grand total of 20 years at executive levels of leadership. The music is now changing for us, and for you. No one does their jubilant dance on the same floor forever. The music we’ve shouted and danced to is coming to a quick end and it’s time for others to step in and create their own steps of joyful praise before the Lord.

I can honestly affirm that Paula and I withheld nothing. We honestly did our best. Others would have done much better with the dance of leadership and we know that fully. But we did all we were equipped and gifted to do and we did it without reservation. Now it’s time for us to dance elsewhere. We won’t move about as swiftly as we have in the past and we will gladly choreograph our steps in the back of the crowd, but we will dance before the Lord wherever we go and whatever we do.

So, thank you for allowing for our dance of worship as well as our dance of leadership. You’ve been wonderful partners, comrades and friends. We gave it our all to lead and your love and your willingness to follow will never be forgotten. Roles change and so does the pace of the music but we will keep on dancing.

Now, you do the same.

Tim Hill

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