I was driving home this afternoon, and I had this thought:
I’m really humble.
Isn’t that crazy? I mean, what kind of person calls themselves humble and is, in fact, humble? Isn’t that a big, fat oxymoron?
I remember being in a conversation once – for the life of me, I can’t remember who, but that’s par for the course these days, because I’m lucky if I can remember my own name. It’s hormonal, I think.
Anyway – where was I? Oh, right. That conversation.
Somebody was telling me about themselves in regards to serving on our arts team, and the comment they made was, “Oh, I get humility. I’m the most humble person you’ll ever meet.”
Now that is messed up.
But back to my point: It has to do with the way I do my job. I had lots of meetings this week, with lots of dialogue and conversation. I’m working on some strategic planning for the summer that involves a good bit of collaboration. And in every one of those situations, I’m investing time and energy into processing, thinking through and then pitching ideas – my ideas. That’s what I get paid for, that’s my calling, that’s my role and responsibility. I’m often invited into places where my opinion or evaluation is requested, and I tread very carefully; but I use my brain and my experience and my discernment and I offer ideas and suggestions and plans. Sometimes with a great deal of passion.
Then there’s the music leading part, too; I have strong feelings about how we’re called to serve the church and one another as musicians. I also have strong feelings about how songs ought to sound and how a service ought to flow, about who has potential and a calling to lead worship and who might not be quite ready. I’m not ashamed of voicing those opinions, of pushing through to create things that I believe will honor God and inspire people. Things that will be excellent.
But undergirding all this opining and leading that I do is a very specific underlying assumption. I rest my pride and ego upon it, and I also balance a great deal of confidence here, because I know, ultimately, that working from this premise makes me better. And makes our team better.
Regardless of all my great ideas, I always believe that somebody else has a better idea.
I always believe that somebody else is more on top of things, smarter, brighter, more effective, more efficient. Not just that they might, but that they are. And that they have better ideas than I do.
At its worst, I’ll cling to this life-raft of insecurity and cry myself a pity party in which I am old and decrepit and useless and jealous. Oh, yes. Sometimes that happens.
But at its best, I passionately believe that I am leaning hard into Paul’s words in Philippians*, which I think are dead on:
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility, value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests, but each of you to the interests of the others.
Or, as creatively voiced by Eugene Peterson in The Message:
Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.
This is important to me. I think it’s important to my job, to our church, and ultimately, to the community. I think it resonates with me because I’ve screwed up so royally by looking to my own selfish interests first and foremost, by being obsessed with getting what I wanted. I’ve swung the pendulum the other way.
It’s better this way. And it matters.
If I could give counsel to any person leading in the creative arts field, most especially to worship leaders, I would say this: the sooner you own this sort of humility, the better. You’ll be better. The people you lead will be better. And even though you might say stupid things to yourself like, “Gee – I’m really humble!”, in the long run it’ll be fine. It works.