I’ve been thinking about humility a lot since we got back from the Christian Musician Summit in Buffalo, NY last week. We went as a band (The Peculiar) to learn and grow and be inspired. We had the opportunity to sit in on seminars led by some of the most talented musicians as they taught skills and gave ideas for practicing. We were led in worship by some amazing worship bands, had the Word spoken to us by gifted teachers… it really was an unforgettable experience. But the thing that kept standing out to me was these men and women’s humility.
I sat in on several bass guitar sessions with one man who has travelled all over the world and played with all sorts of leaders and bands. He could play anything, he was incredibly talented and yet he spent so much of his time talking about how his job is to do exactly what the leader asks of him. He could do all sorts of solos and make himself stand out, but his job is follow the leader, and draw people in to worship. By making a show of himself, he draws all the attention to him, not God, not the words we are singing. He emphasized over and over that as musicians leading worship, that is our role.
Perhaps this point was made even more obvious by his instrument. Bass tends to be an instrument that fills out the band, isn’t the lead, rarely the solo, but has an important role in keeping the rhythm and stability of a song, along with the drums. Watching him play, you might never particularly pick out the bass line, but you would miss it if it wasn’t there.
When I was teaching, I read a book by Canadian novelist Robertson Davies called “Fifth Business”. The title comes from a specific role in a dramatic production. Fifth business is the role in a play that isn’t the lead, the hero or the antagonist, but without this character the plot wouldn’t move and the other lead characters would never be developed. I was always struck by the idea of humility that would have to go with the actor in that part. To be pushing others to the forefront for the audience, knowing how important they are, but never being recognized themselves. How like the call to us as Christians to walk in humility? How like Christ, who brought divine strength to earth and yet chose humility to restrain all those omni-attributes for us?
We live in a world that says to take center stage. Let everyone see how amazing and talented you are, don’t get pushed aside, fight for your rights. Even our spirits rise up in us when we are overlooked or undervalued. Yet, our role is to listen to the Master, to do what our Leader tells us, to point to Him, to play the background.
“Let this mind be in you that was also in Christ Jesus…but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Phil 2:5-8)