Jonathan is ready for change. Up until now his hikes have been primarily with me, although once he let his sister, Christy, come along and he let Dad fill in a time or two when I was out of town. But mostly it’s just been him and me, Jonathan and Mom, and I’ve enjoyed our quietly shared experiences. Now, however, he’s decided to expand his group of hiking associates. He wants to invite the church on a hike. It’s fall and the leaves are starting to turn from their illustrious oranges and golds to dulling browns. The temperatures are a little cooler. Frost covers the ground and ice laces the horses’ water trough in the early morning. The idea of a fall hike with friends actually sounds fun. We both realize we may not have many more opportunities for hiking this year.
So, last Sunday Jonathan asked if he could invite our congregation to join him for a hike. He told them to meet him at Spruce Mountain, one of his favorite hiking spots. The trail is five and a half miles long with a gradual winding climb up a small heavily treed mountain. Once on top, the views are spectacular. Jonathan and I have taken this hike five or six times and it’s created happy memories. Now he is willing to share the experience with others.
Jonathan’s invitation is short and sweet. He and Dad banter playfully behind the pulpit on the platform. Jonathan starts by making sure Dad gets his title right– Senior Pastor Jonathan. He then says, “Hike, next Saturday.” Dad misses his first word, so Jonathan explains–“walk.” Dad pokes him and asks with whom? . . . “For me,” Jonathan answers. Dad can’t let that slide, “Actually it is for him–he’s a control freak.” Jonathan catches the humor and laughs. Everyone laughs with him. Jonathan is a natural on the platform. He then points to specific people in the crowd that he wants to come along. We all enjoy his humor in the moment. Then, feeling his task is accomplished, he tells Dad he is done and hands him the mic and walks off the stage.
I am reminded of William Glasser’s book, Choice Theory, in which he writes that one of our five basic human needs relates to our personal power. We all need to feel we have some control over our lives and some opportunity to express our desires to others. I think standing on a platform and speaking to a crowd through a microphone somehow satisfies that need for Jonathan. He has the opportunity to share his desire when he invites others in the group to join him on a hike. And then of course, speaking of power, he gets to lead the hike.