On Sunday morning, I had the opportunity to witness an act of kindness so great that it literally brought tears to my eyes (not that it takes much to make me cry, but that's beside the point). Jason and I were visiting a nearby church in order to attend a concert by Brian Free and Assurance. It was my first time seeing the group live, and I was very excited. Over the past couple of years, I've grown to really appreciate the group's music and the deep message behind each song. Little did I know that one simple action would bring that message to life in a meaningful way. To help you understand the impact of this single act of kindness, allow me to set the scene.
Before service: Organist plays a variety of hymns. The congregation applauds.
Early in the service: The music minister slips to the piano and plays a beautiful, flowy arrangement of "Great Is Thy Faithfulness" for the first offertory. The congregation applauds.
Middle of the service: Brian Free and Assurance sing a number of faith-filled, Bible-based songs. The congregation applauds.
Latter part of the service: A woman (whom I can only assume is the regular pianist for the church) slips to the piano and plays a lovely, yet simple piece of music while accompanied by the organist who played earlier. The congregation sits in total silence. No applause. No holy grunts. Just complete and total disinterest.
Here's where that single act of kindness comes in. Brian Free jumps from the front pew and bounds onto the platform, leading the entire congregation in a hardy applause while commenting, "Great music. You have great musicians in this church." And he continued to applaud until both musicians had returned to their seats.
I don't know about that pianist, but I can tell you this pianist had tears streaming down her cheeks. Why? Because I've been in that same position. I've poured my heart into a piece of music while the congregation talked and laughed in the background. I've followed a musician who received undivided attention and applause, only to be met with blank stares and somber faces. (This is the part I didn't want to write about. I promise I'm not playing the "poor pitiful me" card. I truly feel the Lord wants this to be said, so I'm going to say it.)
May I ask you a bold question? When was the last time you thanked the musicians in your church? When was the last time you prayed for them? When was the last time you gave them your undivided attention? I think I can speak for the majority of church musicians when I say that we are not doing what we do for the thanks or applause. And we're certainly not doing it for the money (in my case, there is none). We're doing it for the glory of the Lord and out of obedience to His call for us to use our gifts for His glory. But we are still human, and we still have feelings. Don't you know that poor pianist noticed that everyone had gotten an applause except for her? How do you think that made her feel? I'll tell you how--inadequate, second-rate, not good enough. And I guarantee you that one of the thoughts running through her mind was, "Why bother? Maybe I should just pass this job along to someone who could do it better." Been there, done that!
Please understand, I am not implying that we should worship our musicians, song leaders, choir directors or even pastors. What I'm saying is that we're all human, and we could all use a good dose of encouragement now and then. It doesn't have to be in the form of applause. A kind word or simply a moment of undivided attention would do the trick. Just please, let them know they're not forgotten. Help them to see how much they're appreciated. Not for the sake of their pride, but for the sake of their feelings.
Again, I want to stress, especially to my church folks, that I'm not saying any of this for me. I promise. My church family is very good to me, and there are some who go out of their way to make me feel appreciated. But I know that is not always the case, and I urge you to do your part. Your single act of kindness may impact that person far more than you know.
Hug a musician today!
Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do. - I Thessalonians 5:11