To really give yourself as a musician and as a person, you need to have something to lay down. (When I say ‘lay down’ I mean in the sacrificial sense, not the ‘laying down a groove’ sense).
Technique, skills, repertoire, ego – these have to be laid down for the sake of your band, for the audience, and for the music. Pride is the killer of great music and of rich community, and so you need just enough humility to put others first. With time and care, just enough will become more than enough.
As you lay yourself down for others, and as others lay themselves down for you, pride gets no say and responsibility steps into the drivers’ seat. The question stops being “what do I have?” and becomes “what can I give?” This is the point where beauty and glory can be found and is the start point of collaboration.
Pride and selfishness are an incubating partnership of death and decay. On the other hand, humility and sacrifice are a launch pad from which new things appear, a place where delightful explorations begin. Humility may seem foolish, and simplicity boring, but what are combo they are!
a. Life is ministry
Main pastoral responsibilities are to family and team. When mission comes first, ministry happens.
b. Do it with a few, for the many
With your team, aim for depth; with everyone else, aim simply to inspire. Deep teams will birth more deep teams.
c. If you aren’t willing, it’s unlikely anyone else will be
Your ultimate responsibility is to pursue your convictions unfalteringly and without compromise.
d. Gifts are a toolkit and an indication of the area of deployment – but they are not the mission
e. Battling one life-long problem is enough
The world is a big place, and you can’t do everything. Do one thing. We’re in this together, and it will take everyone one of us to faithfully play our part.
f. If you’re made for the edge, the centre will choke you
There is a frontier to explore. Define it.
g. Keep the faith
You must feed your vision, for the sake of the cause. The real battle is a battle of heart.
h. Passion + connection
i. You require partnerships, which require self-sacrifice
Let go of grand delusions, pride and self-sufficiency, and step into grace. Be generous.
j. Unsolvable problems and impossible dreams don’t exist
You can do it. You just may need to look elsewhere for the way through.
‘Just enough’ is the place of neither too little nor too much.
In music, the place of ‘just enough’ might be something like this: just enough technique to execute and contribute artistically and just enough disciplined practise to be natural. It might be just enough study to be aware of the the depths without becoming lost in them. It might be using the skill/technique/ability that you have just enough of to become a part of a group, to contribute, to add flavour.
‘Just enough’ sits between the other two places: too much and too little. How do we know what is too much and what is too little, and find the sweet spot of just enough?
The essence of creativity is limitation and boundary. So, too much is a curse, an enemy of creative action. If we are stuck exploring endless possibility, we get none of the opposite – certainty. We need some level of certainty to begin.
But too little is a curse as well. If we don’t explore widely we fail to stretch, stagnating from lack of challenge, and missing chances to connect (seemingly) disconnected things.
With just enough comes contentment. Alongside just enough stand clarity and understanding. While learning and living just enough is like walking a tightrope, it may well be the ultimate and fulfilling balancing act.
Some observations about ants:
a. They are consistent and diligent at searching
b. They are not systematic
c. Their movements are a sort of fast-chaos
d. The speed and determination of an ant makes up for the apparent lack of sure-fire plan
e. It’s a numbers game
f. They don’t mind crashing into each other
g. There’s no despair in a fruitless search, nor ecstasy with a big score
Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise.
We build things so that the world outside becomes like the world we long for on the inside.
People and situations change, but built-things don’t, not very easily.
So people build something that they fit perfectly into. And then they change, or somebody else does. Then they don’t fit, or the built-thing doesn’t fit, or something.
So when people or the times are wrecking havoc on whatever-the-built-thing-is (I’m trying really hard not to say ‘organisation’), they are actually wrecking havoc on the person who built it. If it doesn’t work any more, and it was designed to fit you perfectly, does that mean you don’t work anymore?
So rules of thumb for builders: only build something that you are prepared to give away. In fact, build it to fit other people, not yourself.