Summary: Our God-given gifts are offered not for individual glory, but so that we would join together in serving God’s Kingdom.
I would like to begin by sharing with you today an event in my life that at the time felt like the worst thing that had ever happened to me, but which in retrospect has proven to be a significant and defining point of my life. This seems especially true as I think about that particular event from the perspective of the Scripture we heard just moments ago.
It was the Fall of my senior year in college. I had declared my Music Education major almost three years before and hadn’t looked back. I spent at least one hour, but usually more like three or four hours in the practice room every day, exercising my trombone chops and improving and honing my skills. I was in at least three different ensembles every semester. The Spring semester prior, I had been appointed by the Band Director as trombone section leader for the Marching Band in that season. Though I was not the best player of the bunch, my seniority and leadership landed me that position – an honor, really. The trombone section was great that year; we had some awesome parts and had a lot of fun playing them for the football crowd every Saturday. We went from hardly being able to remember our parts and moves to “wowing” the crowd every week. As the football season drew to a close, and we stood on the brink of concert season, I was on “Cloud 9.” It was my senior year, and things were going great. I was practicing hard and getting ready for Wind Ensemble auditions. Wind Ensemble is the best of the best, the competition is stiff. I pushed myself in the practice room more and more, even as I felt a sense of confidence about the upcoming try-outs.
So the day came when I had to go into a room where my Band Director and Trombone Instructor sat behind a screen, and I played scales and an audition piece. I remember vividly that I had the unfortunate schedule that day of Biology lab right before my audition, and in biology lab, we had to dissect a frog. So, the nervous butterflies in my stomach were compounded by a slight sense of nausea. Nevertheless, I left the audition feeling pretty good. But still, I was nervous to see the results.
The next day the Band Director called me into his office. He asked me if I would be willing to play euphonium in the Wind Ensemble instead of trombone. He said that there were not enough euphonium players and that he thought I could fill in well there. He didn’t tell me that I hadn’t played well enough to make the Wind Ensemble on my trombone, but I knew. I begrudgingly accepted my Band Director’s offer, knowing that it was that or no Wind Ensemble at all. Then I left his office seething. I was mad at him for not being straight-forward with me. I was mad at myself for not practicing enough and pushing myself, and for being too proud. I was mad at the situation which put me on that crazy schedule where I had to dissect a frog right before I auditioned. It took me days to settle down, but as Wind Ensemble kicked-off that year, everything was fine. I really enjoyed learning a new instrument and appreciated the opportunity to play with the Wind Ensemble in my senior year.