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BALANCE – Part 1 – How to Approach Your Spiritual Formation

“What does it take to be able to perform such feats of balance with apparent ease?”

Have you ever been to a live performance where you didn’t realize that you simply forgot to breathe from the moment it began?  In other words, the performance is so breathtaking that you inhale deeply from the time it starts but are unable to exhale until the last note cascades to silence figuratively. Not too long ago, I had such an experience during Cirque du Soleil’s critically acclaimed La Nouba in Florida.[1] Cirque du Soleil is a world-renowned entertainment package that combines circus arts, athleticism, costume, music, and lights. In addition, the artistic and physical feats that seem to contradict gravity and physics take you on a musical and visual narrative that invokes mystery and contemplation.

The highlight for me during the performance was the many remarkable examples of extreme balance performed. I found myself in awe, whether a person was balancing from an object thirty feet in the air or from another person in what seemed an impossible physical feat of strength and flexibility.  

After exiting La Nouba, it left me pondering the question, “What does it take to be able to perform such feats of balance with apparent ease?”

Balance is defined as an even distribution of weight enabling someone or something to remain upright, steady, and to be stable emotionally, mentally, and physically.[2] Yet when one witnesses the performers of Cirque du Soleil in what often seems precarious and unstable environments, you are challenged on how they maintain this balance physically, emotionally, and mentally.

Of course, over the last 30 years, Cirque du Soleil has had its pick of elite artists and athletes that have trained continuously to make what seems impossible look somewhat easy to the audience.  Nevertheless, “What does it take to balance at such a level that leaves an audience stunned but wanting more?”

Is it just practice?

Is it discipline?

Is it only for the select few with the right physical agility and strength?

So, with a little exploration, I discovered that although Cirque du Soleil has a rigorous selection process in choosing their performers from top athletes and artists from around the world, they added an important criterion in their search that caught my attention immediately.

One word. Transformation.

“Creative transformation is the most important doorway for us. We’re trying to find the ‘pearl,’ the hidden talent in that individual. What is the unique thing that person brings?” – Lyn Heward

According to Lyn Heward, former Cirque du Soleil Vice President, she comments, “Creative transformation is the most important doorway for us. We’re trying to find the ‘pearl,’ the hidden talent in that individual. What is the unique thing that person brings?”[3]

So it is more than just practice, discipline, and DNA.  It is a ‘pearl’ hidden within to be brought forth. André Simard, an acrobat mentor, goes on to say about this transformation process, “When working with artists to develop a concept, the frame of reference can be broad. I try to use a personal approach with every artist to bring out his or her own energy…We can’t close any doors. Instead, we let ourselves go and join the adventure. Once there, though, personal energy is harnessed and used to transform performers into characters on stage. The creativity, theme, music, and costumes prove the context for the visual adventure; the performers provide the “life.”[4]

Cirque du Soleil developers decide that for success to occur on stage before the curtains open and eager audiences attend, their artists must go through a transformation. And this transformation in the context of the visual adventure they are demonstrating results in ease in bringing life to the story. For the artists and athletes to demonstrate the ease and attractiveness of exhibiting great balance in front of us, it is also a deep work happening inward to allow the performance and performer to come to life. In other words, to see balance expressed outward is to understand the importance of transformation inward.

And like the athletes and artists of Cirque du Soleil who train with great discipline, ‘Could we recognize in our formation in Christ that we too are His ‘pearl’ creatively formed to be living witnesses of a ‘visual adventure’ and ‘life’ in Him performing for the world to see?’

I believe in order to see this accomplished, it takes a balanced approach to understanding our formation in Christ. One of the sacred places that can provide context and content for spiritual formation is the ongoing relationship the believer in Christ has with the local church. Although spiritual formation can and must be experienced beyond the walls of the local church, such as our vocations, homes, social relationships, and creation stewardship, the scope of this paper will be narrowing the focus to a local church context.[5]

In the following posts, I would like to encourage any local congregation and the servants who lead them to consider the following in understanding spiritual formation in their contexts with these four principles:

1) Spiritual formation begins with the foundation of the biblical premise found in Luke 10:27, promoted and practiced widely in the local church.

2) Furthermore, this biblical foundation must be integrated consistently into the life of the believer at the local church by providing these areas for formation: (see Fig 1.1)

  • Celebration (Large worship gatherings)
  • Fellowship (Small group type gatherings)
  • Servanthood (Gift expression and usage)
  • Personal (Individual responsibility)
Figure 1.1

3) To recognize that one of the challenges in formation in the local church is the over attention to one of the above areas or the conscious exclusion of any or all of the other areas. For example, attendance at a designated time and place of worshipping together (Celebration) is the only means of formation utilized to exclude any fellowship or service disciplines.

In the scope of this blog series, I will be focusing primarily on the over-attention to servanthood as a means of formation that often neglects the importance of both personal development and fellowship areas of formation development.[6]

4) And finally, I will describe a pathway back to bringing balance to your formation when the results of imbalance are experienced in serving.

Next Post: Balance – Part 2 Finding Balance Begins With BEING CENTERED

You are loved!

[1]  La Nouba transforms the ordinary into the extraordinary and stimulates the imagination from beginning to end with daring acrobatics, dazzling choreography, vibrant music and whimsical characters only at Disney Springs at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida.


[3)   Excerpted from As One: Individual Action, Collective Power by Mehrdad Baghai and James Quigley by arrangement with Portfolio, a member of Penguin Group (USA), Inc., Copyright (c) Deloitte, 2011.Cirque du Soleil: A Very Different Vision of TeamworkIn this excerpt from their new book, As One: Individual Action, Collective Power, authors Mehrdad Baghai and James Quigley examine the artistry and teamwork of Cirque du Soleil. Cirque calls auditions treasure hunting because you never know what kind of talent you’ll find.

[4] Ibid fast company

[5] For a greater treatise on the scope of formation beyond the local church, see Brazos Introduction to Christian Spirituality and Chandler, Diane J.. Christian Spiritual Formation: An Integrated Approach for Personal and Relational Wholeness. InterVarsity Press. Kindle Edition.

[6] Future blogs will address the other quadrants that can also be over-emphasized to the neglect of all.  For example, an over-emphasis on personal formation that neglects aspects of service or fellowship.

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