Taking Ourselves Seriously

Let’s not. 😉

Especially as worship musicians. We seem to have a real problem with this. (And by ‘we’, I really mean ‘we.’ I’m including myself, not just using an expression.) We should be the ones taking ourselves the least seriously, as it’s assumed that we are doing what we do for something other than ourselves. As C.S. Lewis says, ‘The real test of being in the presence of God is, that you either forget about yourself altogether or see yourself as a small, dirty object. It is better to forget about yourself altogether.’ But I find, to my dismay (well, to my joy at first…it only turns to dismay later when I start writing these ‘honesty’ posts…which, by the way, I’m really thinking about not doing anymore…finding out way too many unfortunate things about myself), that when I’m up there ‘worshiping’, most times I am taking myself…uh…pretty seriously. I mean, I like what the other guitarist is doing, but could you shut up for just a second? I’ve got a riff that’s just gonna ‘make’ the worship right now. And if the ‘Listen-to-my-Phil-Wickham-falsetto worship leader’ would ever give me a mic, I just know my harmonies would kill! In a tender, worshipful way.

(Preview of things to come at the end of the post. And here’s the thing about this. At one time someone saw this cover and thought, ‘Yes! We got it. That’s the cover, right there.’ Kinda looks like something I’d have drawn on a text book in high school. Ya! And doesn’t he kind of have that ’70’s pretty boy flare of an outdated text book model? LIke, ‘Science Made Simple with Rick Springfield.’ Anyway…I think I’m kind of losing direction here…)

(This is another picture of my favorite rockstar/school-book cover model. He has done some great songs, though. Well, at least I like them. I dig some of that 80’s synth rock. At one time…meaning last year…I had a jacket in that baby blue color. I found it on a mannequin at church. I was excited. My wife made me throw it away. She has saved me in such ways so many times.)

And there’s just this seriousness and this gravity we give to ourselves. Not the whole ‘we’re the band’ thing; more of the fact that we see what we’re doing as so incredibly invaluable and irreplaceable. And don’t get me wrong…creating an atmosphere conducive to helping people connect with God in a real, passionate, and emotional way is important. But I think sometimes God’s up there laughing at us (good-naturedly, of course). Saying something to the effect of, ya Karl, you’re right…that was a killer U2 rip-off anti-solo, and it did just really help the song take off, and props to you, people were worshiping (even though it might have been a little loud, and a tad…just a tad…self-indulgent. But, uh, just to let you know, if you weren’t here, there’s about 6,043 other worship guitarists just in your city to choose from. And if there weren’t, another little side note here, people still would have worshiped. (Notice I didn’t put quotes around that…kinda scary to quote God if you’re just making stuff up…;)…that’s just something I can imagine Him thinking and chuckling about.

I guess sometimes it makes me laugh when I realize later how serious I was at that service about making everything perfect…not just the music, but the people’s worship of God, too. And in reality, all that stuff’s important, but I think we might have done better if God Himself had just appeared. You know what I mean? The music’s great, and props to you for being so good at it (I’m talking to everyone reading, not myself here…hehe), but the worship will happen with or without it, and with or without you (U2 reference absolutely intended). In the end, it’s our humble privilege that for some odd reason God chooses to use us to accomplish that end.

This is a clip of a U2 interview where they talk about musicians taking themselves seriously, but under the guise of serving God. You gotta skip to about 8:00 into it to get to the part. I could have re-edited it to just that part…but then I would have to have had video skills. And I really don’t…not even a little. The whole interview is pretty good, though…just not pertinent to this particular discussion. But if you watch the whole thing, please, please, please notice how it seems that Edge views Bono and all the crazy things he does and says as just kind of this source of humour (I spelled that the British way because it’s more awesome) for himself. The looks he gives when Bono says things are just fantastic. But, if watching Edge’s looks for 8 minutes (wow, that sounds bad…hmm…that probably is bad…if you’re new here, I admittedly have a bit of a big boy crush…and I am married to a wonderful woman…she understands) isn’t what you’re after, just skip to 8 minutes through for the stuff on taking ourselves too seriously. It’s about the security blanket we use by saying that God ‘gave us’ certain songs. Which is great, because then if the song sucks, no one wants to say that something God supposedly did, sucked. And no one wants to say, ‘Ya, bro, I don’t really think God gave you that.’ So here it is:

First time I saw that ending part, I just cracked up. I know I’ve used that security blanket statement before. Especially when someone comes up just to be nice and says, ‘Hey, you sounded good today.’ And you just go off with like, ‘Oh, praise God! It just felt like everything I played was like, directly from Him. I know, wasn’t He so using me today? Aw, praise to Him for all my talents.’ And then the person has this really awkward look on their face, because they really didn’t think you did that good, they were just being nice. And now they realize even though they didn’t think you were that good, you quite obviously think you were that good. Ya, I try to keep those situations to a minimum. 🙂

Anyway, maybe we (again, meaning ‘me’) should take a step back every once in a while and realize that in the grand scheme of things, we’re kind of small. And that drum fill, bass walk, keyboard riff, guitar swell, vocal harmony, or violin sustain is even smaller. And if you keep taking yourself seriously, you’re going to eventually feel even smaller. Because people notice. At churches and gigs alike, people notice the guy with that air of ‘Ya, it’s a Crate amp. But just watch the tone tear your face off.’ Or the other guy with the, ‘Ya, it’s a Bruno amp. And yes, I know you’ve never seen one up close before. And yes, my tone is bordering on too rich for your inferior hearing.’ To me, when we’re in that mindset (and notice that I say ‘when’, because it seems to happen to all of us at some point or another), I think we kind of look like Rick Springfield…which, if you’re wondering, is bad. Now, I love this song; but when I first saw the video, I thought, ‘Yikes, this is way too poppy and happy of a song for him to be thinking he’s so rockstar like that.’ Quite entertaining.

Ya, let’s not do that.


9 thoughts on “Taking Ourselves Seriously

  1. “if you can get out of the way… it wants to exists…. you have to keep your hands off it. If you just let it be and not tamper with it, its going to be the pure thing.”

    very good.

  2. Good times, bro. I take it you watched that whole U2 video, then. The stuff that Edge says in there about how to write songs, like the stuff you quoted, is just invaluable. I’d love to have lunch with that guy and just shut up and learn. hehe 🙂

  3. Right on, Samuel. Isn’t that a great interview? I was so stoked when I first saw it. Hmm. Gotta go watch part 4 again, now that you mention it. 🙂

  4. Watched the whole thing… what’s up with their mic bordering on feedback… come on, they’re musicians for goodness sake! Oh wait, was that too serious?

    Loved what he said at the end about the interviewers channeling comment… “you’ve been in California too long…” 😉

    “Has God really written so many crap songs?” Beautiful!

    I have to say that Springfield’s blue suit with white tennis shoes is classic. Let’s bring that look back!

    This is what I love about your blog Karl… You never take yourself too seriously… keep it up!

  5. Oh karl! Anyone who can throw Rick Springfield into their blog gets an “A” in my book.
    I really enjoyed this blog! It gave me a little more insight into your world as a Worship leader. I think what facinates me most about you is your ability to showcase an equilibrium of pride and humility (take it as a compliment). I can admire that.
    I love it when people give God all the credit and still reap all the goodies. It connects me to their humaness. Disappointing most of the time but entertaining to watch humans being human amongst the groupies.

    Anyways… loved it!

  6. Eric–haha That was awesome. And ya, the first time I heard the ‘Could God have created so much crap’ line, I nearly fell over. So good.

    And thanks for the kind words. Honestly, it is difficult to not take myself seriously when I have so many awesome skills. Oh!! hehe
    (And for those of you reading these comments, Eric and I go way back. He knows I was being sarcastic…or was I…little bit of truth in every joke, right? haha) 😉

    Peter–thanks, brother. I always appreciate your wisdom; it’s very rare to find ‘real’ people…and intelligent ones at that. And ya, before the year is out, we’ll have connected; for sure! hehe 🙂

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