Sunday, May 11, 2008

Coachella Reprive - Excellence & Humility

Last week I had lunch with my good friend John, at one of South Pasadena's cultural icons (newly renovated - now featuring cloth table napkins!).

John has had a remarkable life, and I count him as one of my favorite human beings. At one point in life, he was even a member of
The New Christy Minstrels, a long standing American folk group of the funky variety. But enough about John.

Our lunch conversation covered lots of stuff, including their kids, our kids, his parents, my in-laws, friends, silly church things, his work, my work, our lovely spouses, and the general meaning of life. Good friends are a blessing beyond measure or description. John was curious about my trip to Coachella, as he has been interested in music and the arts his whole life. Strangely it seems I have become a bit of a mini (read: very very tiny) local sudo-legend in my age grouping, for actually having the nerve to go to Coachella. Some folks can't believe I went, but I can't imagine not going, just to have the opportunity to visit the other side of the generation gap.

I told him about my three highlights, all posted below. During our chat, I mentioned to John that something had dawned upon me, after reflecting on my day and night in the desert. What I found was that the individual acts and groups that I was most drawn to and impressed by all shared two primary and defining characteristics. First humility, and second excellence.

One of the scriptural guidelines I try to remember in my work is from Colossians 3, where Paul is (again) advising a messed up church. His admonishment is very helpful for all I am trying to become, as I grow up:
"And sing, sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way."
Sing out your hearts. Do it in the name of the Master. Wonderful. The best acts I observed at Coachella got this very well. They were good. Very good. They had rehearsed a lot, worked to get it right - and when they stepped on stage, you could tell. Now, mind you, most groups very likely did not have a squeaky clean Christian brand, but they were very good at music. You could tell. Great stuff!

Perhaps the more profound message I received from Coachella was an abiding sense of humility from certain artists. Look below for my favorite acts. In each instance, there was a direct and profound sense of thankfulness from each artist for merely being asked to play on stage. Really. I heard this over and over. Comments like, "We are just so glad to be here", and "Thank you so much for coming out here tonight to listen to us", were commonplace. How heart warming.

What? I thought this was the culture of rock stars, instant fame, and bling. I was wrong, and pleasantly surprised!

Humbleness. This is the way I want to go through life. I try each day, to defer praise to other people, to step out of the way. And then, I remember this:
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.
I want to learn about humility. In certain places, Coachella, of all places was a good lesson.
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