Reflections: On Being Out of Step
August 27, 2020
It was an embarrassing halftime show when the entire Minor High School Marching Tiger Band was out-of-step. It was especially embarrassing for us in the percussion section since a major part of our job was keeping everybody in step.
Our band director decided we’d play the theme from “Mission Impossible.” The music wasn’t especially difficult, as I recall, other than the rhythm. Most marching bands play 4/4 (common) time since it’s easy to remember left-right-left-right. But “Mission Impossible” is 5/4 time so it was like we had something different in our head: left-right-left-right-right.
I’m not sure why our director didn’t pull the song and substitute something else. Perhaps he hoped it would come together on Friday. Alas, it didn’t.
This wasn’t the only time in my life I’ve been out-of-step.
But being “out-of-step” can be a good thing or a bad thing.
For example, it can be a bad thing on the job. Employers rightly expect employees to work together harmoniously. Even if they have personality differences or conflicting work habits, employees are mandated to find middle ground for the good of the company. Furthermore, employees must be willing to promote the product. An employee can’t afford to tell others not to buy the car they make, or not to eat at the restaurant in which they cook or serve.
I once knew a music minister who said he wouldn’t attend Sunday evening worship if he’d not been expected to because of his position. We had a serious talk about loyalty, as well as his role in worship planning.
Sometimes “out-of-step” is a good thing. Employees can offer critiques that bring about needed change. They lobby for improvements in product or management. Of course, this assumes company management is willing to listen to employees. I’ve known a few organizations where suggestions for improvement were considered insubordination by prideful or insecure owners and management. But usually the old-fashioned “suggestion box” can bring some good ideas.
Christians are labeled “out-of-step” in scripture. The Living Bible renders Romans 12:2, “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world but be a new and different person with a fresh newness in all you do and think.”
This kind of “newness,” involving holy living, helping the poor and seeking peace, was seen as a threat to the Roman Empire. Rome demanded the highest loyalty from her citizens. “Caesar is Lord” was the unifying creed. Nero ordered the first wide-spread persecution of the followers of Jesus. We believe Peter and Paul were both martyred under Nero, along with others. These deaths were for the crime of being out-of-step with the emperor.
God yet commands Christians to listen to him and be in step with his purposes.