“I realized that Dr. Wood is more than just a rock star; he is a real person, complete with legs and gold-toe socks.”
I first met Dr. George O. Wood (or THE WOOD as we respectfully and affectionately refer to him in my home), at the General Superintendent’s forum at General Council in Orlando, Florida in 2015. I had a simple job at this meeting to hand out papers. When I realized who I was handing out said papers to, I of course dropped them all on the floor. As I picked them up, assuring everyone seated of my competence as a minister, I realized that Dr. Wood is more than just a rock star; he is a real person, complete with legs and gold-toe socks.
I have since had the opportunity to selfie several times with Dr. Wood, which obviously makes me an expert and qualified to write this article. And from my non-vast personal experiences with him, I would like to share with you the nuggets of solid gold I have gotten from my hero in the faith. Some of these are actual wisdom-nuggets, some fools gold, but mostly it is a chemical composite of reality mixed with all the pretend hangout sessions he and I have had in my imagination.
The Redder, The Better
When I was in college, a boy brazenly told me he hated all red hair because it always looked like clown hair. While I admit, in Florida I do have a somewhat striking resemblance to Ronald McDonald, I had always been proud to be redheaded, but this boy had made me feel ashamed of it. In fact, he told me that my hair was the exact same shade as an orangutan. And when I fact-checked his statement against my set of Encyclopedia Britannica’s, he was indeed correct. Now when I first saw Dr. Wood up close, I immediately began to suspect that under the white façade was a glimmering mane of red curly locks.
Several months later, my suspicions were confirmed
Several months later, my suspicions were confirmed during a Q&A session at our District Council. While people prattled on about “What direction do you see our fellowship headed in nationally?” and “What legal ramifications do you see our fellowship facing over the Supreme Court ruling?” I quietly pondered which of my own questions to dazzle our fearless leader with: “What does the O in your name stand for?” or “Can you still say anything in Chinese?” So during the break, I steeled myself, bounded forward to our magnate, straight past his outstretched hand and into an awkward hug. Upon release, I led with “So were you really a redhead at one time?” and when he responded with a resounding “YES!” I felt our soul friendship solidified enough to share my Papaw’s quip of how his hair had also “Turned red, Turned white, and then Turned Loose”. Our break was surprisingly shortened after that.
But this is the lesson I learned from my companion in curls:
But this is the lesson I learned from my companion in curls: being a ginger is nothing to be ashamed of. Ginger is a spice you know (and the coolest Spice Girl…just saying), and sometimes leadership takes a little spice. Sometimes, you have to bring the fire in the hair and apply it to out there. You never need an out-of-control wild fire, but sometimes a controlled burn can make a forest healthy again. It takes care of the weeds. And there is something to be said for people of passion who are trainable and humble of heart.
I have heard that King David’s ruddiness was attributed to his red hair.
I have heard that King David’s ruddiness was attributed to his red hair. Who knows, but sometimes it takes someone having a wild hair or two to be willing to run down a giant. Dr. Wood does it daily. Thank goodness there is a stubborn fire and passion still burning in the core of our neatly coiffed leader.
Be Willing to Share your Cookies…Especially the Good Ones
A few months ago I emailed Springfield and asked for a meeting with Dr. Wood. I mentioned I was with the PreacherGirls2.0 which I’m pretty sure was confused in Springfield with the much more professional and eloquent PreacherGirls (The Original), and we were miraculously granted admittance to the highest court in our fellowship for one whole hour.
PG’s2.0 were SO nervous. We were going to meet with THE WOOD and several of the executive presbyters. What would we do? What would we say? Could we all get matching outfits in time? Needless to say we were SO nervous when we showed up to headquarters in Springfield. I am not gonna lie, I needed two sets of dress shields that day. Sitting awkwardly in his waiting room area while he did important world business, we made seventh grade jokes, took selfies (of course), and tried to reverse the direction of moisture away from our palms and back into our cottonmouths.
The moment arrived when his imposing secretary summoned us forth
The moment arrived when his imposing secretary summoned us forth, and our commander and chief greeted us at the door with an outstretched hand. I immediately charged past and into yet another uncomfortable hug. Upon release, we stood dumbfounded and staring at a caravan of handcrafted camels, not knowing which direction to turn. I had seen a table filled with glorious towers of refreshments, but felt far too unimportant to entertain the idea that these delicacies were for us. However, within a few moments, our most generous potentate was graciously offering us access to the delectable goodies. They were
for us. Not only had he gone out of his way to carve out an hour of his time, he invited his friends, and had made provisions ahead of time for us to have cookies (which was precisely what my 12-year-old inner child needed to self-soothe in this situation).
What I learned from Dr. Wood that day is that when you’re super cool, don’t horde all the cookies. Bring in the goofy pre-adolescent seventh graders and share generously. It makes them feel like they are important. It validates them. It takes the pressure off. It engenders them to you for life. It puts everyone at ease. What a gift. What a priceless gift of acceptance and generosity. And, I’m not gonna lie, Dr. Wood enjoys a good cookie, so much so that I felt comfortable enough to take a few home in my pocket book.
Don’t Ever Stop Wearing Your Dashiki
You would be super hard pressed to find Dr. Wood in anything but a dapper tailored suit and tie on most days, but there have been moments when I was quite surprised to see him in what was either a Hawaiian type button down or an African type short dashiki shirt. Our Superintendent is a trendsetter with a dry sense of humor. He has his own sense of style, and he is fearless (pun intended) in its expression. He isn’t trying to be anyone but himself. He is confident in who he is. He doesn’t do it to be garish, or make a political statement, and he doesn’t do it all the time. He wears what’s appropriate for every occasion so as not to offend, but he’s an individual, with an occasional expression of spice (Ginger-ly done of course). It makes me love him even more.
What I learn from this is, you don’t have to be uptight all the time. Sure we are leaders. Sure, some of us are admired and looked up to. But we don’t have to be stodgy and uptight 24/7 just because we think that’s what a leader should look like.
Take the suit off sometimes and wear your dashiki.
Take the suit off sometimes and wear your dashiki. Step out of your highly pressed power suit and put on humanity. Be an individual. Have a sense of humor. Don’t take everything so seriously. You don’t have to be offensive to be an individual either. You can still be highly respected as a leader while expressing yourself and your individuality. Be appropriate, but be yourself, and let others express themselves with integrity as well.