[As the year comes to an end, I am listing a few of the things that happened during 2010 for which I am most thankful. The list is not in order of significance.]
I have never been accused of lacking in self confidence. I owe this delusion of being a competent, high performer to having learned two principles early in life. First, avoid doing in public anything you know you are not good at doing. Second, never brag on your abilities; it is much more fun to be the dark horse who wins than the favorite who chokes in the home stretch. Anyone can be self confident if they avoid opportunities for failure and they can fade into the crowd until it’s time to get the job done.
I don’t know how the seeds of these principles were planted, but I do know the garden in which they germinated and grew, Junior High Band. I played the trumpet. I wasn’t very good; I have the wrong teeth/jaw structure to be very good. At least that’s what my High School Band Director told me when he was talking me into being the drum major.
In Junior High I worked hard and moved up from third chair, third part (repeat the same note over and over and over in tempo) to second chair, first part (play the melody). When I moved into that lofty position I knew I didn’t want to go any further. First chair, first part got all the solos. In Junior High the trumpet solo always required hitting and holding a high note. In my day, Junior High trumpet players almost always missed that note. There they stood in a black coat and bow tie, with all eyes on them and all ears perfectly pitched when out blared the sound of a cat when the rocker rolls over its tail. I knew from my first concert I didn’t want to be that person.
The pundits want us to believe it is people like me who are holding the world back from entering utopia. The only people who make history are those driven to be number one, those who can only be satisfied with finishing first. Those are the people who become President of the United States. Yes, they are; now think about that.
I beg to disagree with the pundits. The persons who impact the world for good are not those who are driven to finish first, but rather those who are driven to finish well. That is the difference between those who want to be known as the best in their field and those who want to be their best. The first tend to get elected to offices only to abandon the ship when they are out of the lime light (what in the world is a “lime light?”). The latter are often overlooked for accolades but remain steadfast at their post until the cargo is unloaded.
I am not certain I qualify for either type. I do downplay winning, but I can’t claim to truly strive to always be my best. I am a work horse and I do pull the plow straight and deep (switching metaphors again). I am most pleased with myself when people describe me as being good at what I do. I just enjoy doing things well. The consequence being that I live life over extended, resulting in often doing many things not so well.
In practical terms I am content to be the Vice-president who chairs committees of action rather than to be the President. I have been on the Board of Directors for the Bradley Initiative for Church and Community (BICC) for most of its twelve-year history, having served on the organizational board. I have been the Vice-president of BICC for the past couple of years, but I chair the organization’s Vision Commission which is charged with the formation of community development projects.
Likewise, I have been on the Board of the Appalachian Ministries Educational Resource Center with offices in Berea, Kentucky (AMERC) for over fifteen years, serving on the Executive Committee of the Board for the past five years and as Vice Chair for the past couple of years. I have had no desire to be the President/Chair of either of these organizations. I get my thrills just being a contributing member.
Having built my case for excessive humility (an acquaintance once told me his spiritual gift was humility and he was proud of it), I must confess that I am thankful for the honor of being elected last weekend to serve as Chair of the Board of Directors for AMERC, a renewable, one-year term. Help me hope and pray this wonderful organization remains solvent until they can find a qualified leader.
December 19, 2010