Mr. Bojangles

You remember the song, don’t you?

It was written by Jerry Jeff Walker as a tribute to the famous tap dancer, Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, who died in 1949.  Bojangles was a “hoofer” who wore ragged clothes, drank a bit, and danced in bars and minstrel shows for tips.

When you think of this song, what performer comes to mind?

Bob Dylan?

The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band?

Frankie Laine?

Nina Simone?

Neil Diamond?

They all recorded it, but I’ll bet they’re not who you think of.  I’m guessing you think of Sammy Davis Jr.  Sammy owned Mr. Bojangles.  He closed his shows with it and often left his audience in tears.  The song rarely failed to produce a standing ovation.

Why was Sammy so successful with it and not those other fine performers?

Because Sammy was Mr. Bojangles.  That is to say, actually he grew up as a hoofer who danced in bars and minstrel shows for tips.  He understood the song like none of those other performers could and it came through his performance.

Here’s an important lesson:  Your song (testimony) will have a lot more power if you’ve really lived it.

Nowadays, all kinds of people are offering testimonies of faith that ring hollow because they haven’t lived a life to match their words.  For example, Angus Jones, one of the stars of the sitcom, Three and a Half Men, recently said that people should stop watching the show because it fills their heads with filth.  Yet he continues to be on the show, making $350,000 per episode.*

Outrageous?  Yes.  But sadly, not uncommon.  Millions of people talk the talk, but don’t walk the walk.  Like the football player who points toward heaven and crosses himself when he scores a touchdown, but was recently arrested for public intoxication after one of his games.

Or the timeshare salesman I once knew who kept a big black Bible on his desk.  In a candid moment he admitted to me that it was a sales tactic, designed to impress potential customers who felt more comfortable doing business with a Christian.

Or the clueless church member I know who recently posted an off-color joke on Facebook and then a few hours later posted a prayer request.

Is it any wonder today’s church has a credibility problem?

What about you?  Does your life back up your testimony?

For further reflection read 2 Corinthians 13:5.

*Reported by Julie Moult and Lizzie Smith, MailOnline, November 26, 2012

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3 Responses to Mr. Bojangles

  1. As usual, Mark, such good words for our generation and the future generation. I moved over to YouTube to watch Sammy Davis Jr. and was impressed again with his raw talent. You know you can add You Tube downloads to your blog. It adds a nice little punch and confirms your point. Those younger than 30 may have never even heard Sammy sing.
    Again. Good job and well said. Thank you.

  2. Marg says:

    Sammy Davis was an exceptional entertainer. A very gifted person. Never really go much to you tube need lessons on that one.

    I would venture many of us our guilty of the fb thing. I hope I am not one Thanks mark

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