I have never even considered the idea of rooting for the Pittsburg Steelers, until now. When you know someone whom you revere, you find yourself wanting to be on their team. Even when their team was always a rival before. This is true with some who end up villains, or heroes. It is certainly true with those who follow Jesus, as well as with those mentors who become beautifully influential reflections of what the Father is like. No human is exactly like God the Father, but there are good reflections out there. An attribute I have found to be consistent in the men who are good reflections of Christ, the men whose team I want to be on, is a clear understanding of what they can and cannot do, and a bold honesty about both.
When Rachel, now my wife, was wandering through the halls and lobby of the Clarence Brown Theatre one day about twelve years ago, she could have bumped into any professor. She was quite lost; not on campus, but in life. Any professor could have stepped around a corner and offered sound professional advice. But it was not professional advice she was after. So, when she stumbled upon Terry Weber, it was providence. Terry is an excellent professor in the Theater department, and has just as much sound professional advice to offer as the next. He is also a believer. So when Rachel said “can I talk to you… see, my dad just died, and I don’t really know what to do now”, Terry did the best thing. He didn’t give professional advice. The words that came out were that of a Christian, and a father. She has never forgotten conversation and still hearkens to it as a hope filled marker in her life.
Terry is a brilliant artist. As Artistic Director of The WordPlayers, he is a goldmine resource and leader, and if he and his wife had not founded this organization, we could not afford what we have in them. One of the things I revere most about him is how honest he is about his own fallibility. It is probably, to me, one of the finest signs of true manhood. A man who confidently marches forward in all things that must be done, while being honest about his own weaknesses and admitting that he could be wrong. A man I can trust to tell me if my work is not excellent. Thus, when he approves, or even speaks highly of my work, I am more encouraged than any amount of empty praise from those who have not challenged me to do better. He is not just a good fellow to follow, he is a shepherd, a friend, a father.
When I hear my wife tell about the impact of her conversation with Terry that day at CBT, I think about the times when he has told me “Well, I’m not very gifted pastorally”, or “I don’t relate to people in the way you do.” I think of how much it means to us that a man who doesn’t feel equipped in such areas, will still do his best when he is confronted with an opportunity to point someone in the right direction. He does this because he knows what is right, whether he knows how to articulate it or not. All this to say, if you wonder what sort of people are in charge of The WordPlayers, what sort of people are shaping the next generation of Christian Theatre Artists in East Tennessee, be excited. Terry’s hopes and dreams are far beyond “good art.” He is on God’s team, and his work transcends the very reason art ought to exist. That is why I want to be on Terry’s team, even if it means rooting for the Steelers now.
Of course, this blog may have far too many commas because, after all, I usually have Terry proof read them before they are posted. Seemed like a good idea to skip that step this time.