“After some careful prayer and thought, we’d like to call you as our ward organist.” Is your heart racing yet? “What about my own prayer and thought” you might ask, “I don’t consider myself proficient enough to play” you might think. Yet at the very core of your concerns is probably, “I don’t want to feel like I’m showing off.”
It is to no surprise that these concerns plague the thoughts of Latter-Day Saint musicians judging from the heavy number of scriptures that emphasize humility. Christ himself teaches, “blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth,” as well as, “and whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted” (Matthew 23:12). At the very least is the chapter devoted to humility,
You’d be surprised at how many people share your concern. I’ve had it myself, especially as a young church organist newly called at just 16 years old. Since then I’ve had the opportunity to serve a mission and attain a music degree from Brigham Young University – Idaho, during which my thoughts have changed completely.
The scriptures are full of paradox’s, and in contrast to Christ’s teachings on humility he also teaches “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works…” (Matthew 5:16). Ironically, it’s in the same chapter in which he states that “the meek shall inherit the earth.” So what’s the secret then? How do you resolve the ambiguity between these two scriptures? Elder Uchtdorf gave some clarification in some words he addressed to priesthood holders in a general session of conference,
we discover humility by thinking less about ourselves. It comes as we go about our work with an attitude of serving God and our fellowman.”
And there it is, straight from a prophet of God. We are not serving anyone by downplaying ourselves. By continuing to downplay our talents and succumbing to our fear of our talents being exposed, we continue to dampen the power of the spirit who is ready and willing to uplift and support the members of our congregations. In comparison is a quote from my own grandmother, “burying your talent is a grave mistake.”
The key difference is exemplified by Christ himself. In the great war we all participated in during our premortal lives, Christ tells our Heavenly Father, “Thy will be done, and the glory be thine forever” (Moses 4:2). He performed the greatest act in the history of eternity, but he gives all the glory of that achievement to his Heavenly Father. It is up to us to follow Christ’s example and do the same. To finish Christ’s words
The work we have is pivotal. It is critical. We cannot afford to downplay ourselves and our musical prowess in turn. In Matthew 6, using Joseph Smith’s translation, Christ states “The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single to the glory of God, thy whole body shall be full of light” (Matthew 6:24). Going back to Moses, remember that Heavenly Father’s entire work and glory is to “bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39). As we bring out our best, we are participating, in a very real way, in God’s entire plan of salvation, in bringing his children closer to him.
“So what do I do?” You might ask. Bring out your best. There are plenty of resources out there to improve the musical prowess at church. Look over lds.org/music. If you are a church organist, don’t be afraid to use some of those brighter stops, yes, even the Mixture III or IV, even those reeds marked in red. Look into free accompaniments you can use from time to time. There are several available with a quick search online for free or cheap. Carsonhymns.com has plenty of information on them and even some excellent arrangements free to use as well. If you don’t have a church music calling, don’t think you’re out of the hook. Your ward music chairman would probably love to know of your talents. I challenge you to find them and tell of them of your willingness to help out. I can promise that as you participate musically both at home and at church, you will find a greater connection to Heavenly Father yourself, greater peace at home, and greater peace and joy in your associations in your local congregation as well.
I'm a sacred music enthusiast. I'm one of those people that attends church for the music just as much as the sermon, one of those people that give an evil glare at the people who leave for the congregational hymns, (Ok no, not really).