The stated purpose of the organization is “furthering music education and fostering a musical environment in our communities through the sponsorship of musical events and by providing performing opportunities for our talented and deserving young people.” In other words, it is a service organization in the area of music. It’s all about the cultural welfare of the community and the patronage of young artists.
But as wonderful as that sounds, not every member “got it.” As I became more and more involved at higher (district) and higher (state) levels, politics and self-aggrandizement reared their ugly heads. Let me give you an example.
In their goal to spread music in the communities, local groups were encouraged to present programs open to the public in several areas: opera, dance, American composers, women composers, and several others. As motivation a plaque was awarded to the group who had done the best in each category based upon written reports sent to State Chairmen, complete with printed programs, photographs, and news items.
One year I was one of those chairmen. I received a dozen reports of outstanding programs all across the state in the opera category. Truly every group deserved recognition for their efforts. In fact, I could have easily made a case for the smallest group, and a rural one at that, because for their lack of resources both monetary and talent, their creativity in making opera palatable to a less cultured area of the state had been astounding. But of course, it was not quite up to the big city group who had staged a full opera nor another urban organization who had managed to coax nationally acclaimed Met stars to appear.
At the weekend of the awards I could not make the trip five hours south. My husband had been shot in the line of duty and besides caring for him, I was also fending off the media and arranging appointments with doctors and lawyers and counselors. So I sent my choice of winner and a letter of explanation for my absence.
At nearly ten o’clock that evening I received a phone call from a member of one of the big city groups. At first I thought, “How sweet. Yes, it’s late, but she has just heard about our ordeal and is calling to check on us.” But no, that was the last thing on her mind, if it was at all. These were the first words out of her mouth:
“I called to ask why we didn’t win the plaque this year.”
Clearly this woman did not share the same goals as this organization. To her it was about acclaim, about winning prizes, about being number one among her brothers and sisters. And just as clearly, other people’s problems, no matter how dire, did not matter to her one bit.
I hope that little story makes you shake your head in disgust, and after you have done that, ask yourself these questions:
Why am I a Christian?
Do I serve others?
Do I do things for the church I assemble with, serving in whatever capacity is needed?
And more to the point:
Have I ever been miffed because MY name wasn’t mentioned?
Have I ever stopped speaking to someone who did not thank me as I thought I deserved?
Have I ever stopped visiting or calling or helping someone who didn’t return the favor?
Maybe we all need to remember the example the Lord set, not just that one night in the upper room washing even Judas’s feet, or even those hours on the cross, but every morning he opened his eyes on this earth among people who hated him, ridiculed him, assaulted him, tried to kill him, and eventually did. And we need to remember why he did it. It certainly wasn’t for a plaque!
This organization he set up, the one he called “mine” (Matt 16:18) has a purpose that has nothing to do with my glory. It is the greatest purpose of any group anywhere—the salvation of mankind, no matter what it takes from me in terms of service or sacrifice.
Yes, if we are faithful we will receive a prize. But if the prize is the only reason we are doing it, then the prize is the very thing we will not receive.
So I endure all things for the sake of those chosen by God, that they too may obtain salvation in Christ Jesus and its eternal glory. 2Tim 2:10