I’ve learned so many deep and wonderful facts and ideas from Dallas. Writing the study guide for The Divine Conspiracy was one of the most interesting and fun projects I’ve ever done. But here I’ll write about what I’ve learned from him as a person. I’m not sure I’ve learned these things, but I’ve seen them in him and am growing in them.Keep God at the front of your mind. I love to walk up behind Dallas and see if I can figure out what hymn he is humming. His hymn-humming and so many other things are how he “sets the Lord ever before me” (Ps 16:8), which may be the verse I’ve heard him quote most often. I’ve copied him because I find this right-brain hymn-humming jams my left-brain litany of thoughts about myself. It reminds me to pray for the person in front of me.
I don’t need to talk about myself. He rarely talks about himself (unless I pump him) but he genuinely listens to others and waits for them. Riding along in the car, he is fine just being quiet. As a result, he has responded to my remarks at times with near-prophetic insight. He practices not only the presence of God, but also the presence of people.
Never, never hurry. He just doesn’t do it. He knows it rips 1 Cor 13 out of the Bible. When I get hurried or start talking about myself (see previous item), I put my hands behind my back as I have often seen him do as he walks around Mater Dolorosa where the Fuller Seminary class has been held. Doing this changes my attitude. This hints at how he’s taught me so much about how the body is involved in spirituality.
I don’t need to impress you. He is not concerned with impression management. He doesn’t say anything to get you to think well of him. Because he has abandoned this, he says things to get people to think (as Jesus did). People sometimes think these things are absurd, but he’s not concerned about that. He’ll often say to students, “Now you don’t have to agree with me. That’s fine.” Now I find myself saying that and I mostly mean it when I say it.
This process of learning things like this has taught me that life with God and love for God is much more caught than taught. The Trinity is relational for a reason. Relationships and how we treat people really matters. It’s much more important than how much I get done today.
Formation is as much caught as taught, and Dallas is someone from whom I’ve caught quite a bit.
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From whom are you currently “catching” a well-formed life or the simplicity of living each moment in the Kingdom of God?
Jan Johnson is the author of twenty books including Invitation to the Jesus Life and Abundant Simplicity and a thousand articles and Bible studies. She speaks at retreats and conferences, and teaches (adjunct) at Azusa Pacific University and Hope International University. Also a spiritual director, Jan holds a D. Min. in Ignatian Spirituality and Spiritual Direction. She lives with her husband in Simi Valley, California. You can visit her at JanJohnson.org.