“Play us the song! Play us the song!”
The crowd roared in a unified chant requesting for the drum instructor to play a run-through of their hit track. Well, they were actually chanting for him to play anything at all because he continuously refused to.
“No one wants to hear me play the same boring beat over and over again for three minutes. We’d be better off just having some more questions…”
He swept the pressure under the rug and called on the next person who raised their hand.
“Would you play us one of the tracks off your upcoming album?” The crowd cheered, supporting his request. But the drummer absolutely refused. Over, and over, and over. And he left the crowd of seventy-five onlookers disappointed and sad to see their hero drained of such self-confidence.
I went up to the drummer later in the day and asked him why he wouldn’t play for them, and he said, “You know, there are just so many better drummers out here. I’ve never done one of those drum clinics, and I’m just not qualified to do one. I play the simplest punk beats, and I figured they’d be disappointed in what I had to offer. I’d much rather have just answered questions about tour life or something.”
His comment shocked me because when I looked out into that crowd, I saw seventy five faces of people who believed in this guy, who saw something great in him, who looked up to him for hope. If he could have just seen the way they looked at him…
But I think that’s just it…I don’t think he was looking at them. He was nervous because he was looking at himself. He felt insecure about what he thought he looked like compared to the drummers he thought they knew. He felt inadequate because of what he felt was the appropriate level of expertise to be qualified to teach. He didn’t believe in himself because he thought what he had to offer was going to bore them and waste their time. He didn’t see them at all because he was looking at himself…
And he missed out on the opportunity he had to impact them in that moment—to teach them, to love them, to focus on them and give what he could, to give them a glimmer of hope, to distract them from their circumstance. If he had just picked his eyes up from the man behind the kit and looked out into the crowd of eager faces looking up to him in admiration, he might not have missed out on the opportunity to imprint their lives with a memory they would always remember…a glimmer of hope in their day…a second of escape from their circumstance…He might have been able to cut through the crap in his own life and find that one thing he could have left them with that gave them something to think about and uplift them…but because he was focused on himself, he missed it all.
I talk to people all the time who see the opportunity to help someone at their school, or comfort someone at work, or lift someone up at a coffee shop, but they don’t take it because they think:
I’m not ____ enough. Cool enough to help them. Funny enough to speak up. Social enough to step out. Smart enough to pipe in.
I’m too ____ to do that. Fat to be their friend. Ugly to smile back. Shy to encourage them. Scared to walk up.
They’ll think I’m ____. Stupid for trying. Weird for coming up to them. Awkward. Just plain….awkward.
And at the root of every one of those thoughts is selfishness. Not the malicious kind, but all of those thoughts happen because we’re looking at ourselves. But what if we were to stop looking in and start really looking out. Abandoning how we’ll look or what we think will happen and embracing what we could potentially do for someone else. What if that kid who sits by himself every day is that way because his dad beats him every time he walks in the door? And what if by sitting next to him you tell him for the first time he’s worth something? What if that person at work that pisses everyone off is going through a divorce and feels completely alone? And what if inviting them out with you gives them the comfort and strength they need to get through that? What if that girl hiding her tears is about to kill herself the next day? And what if one conversation, one email would tell her she matters enough to keep fighting?
Later that day at iMatter, I saw two girls do that for someone else. They listened as this girl they didn’t know cried and shared how worthless she felt. She told them all of the negative thoughts that haunted her and kept her believing she isn’t enough. And they told her she was beautiful. That she matters. That she has a purpose. That there’s a God who loves her beyond her wildest imagination. They shared their own personal stories and spoke to the tender part of her soul that needed to be loved. They prayed for her. They gave her space to be vulnerable in the moment she needed it the most. And then they gave her their contact information. That might have been a pivotal moment for that girl to begin to believe that maybe she’s more than what she used to believe. It might be the anchor place of an identity change where she starts to believe she’s beautiful, to believe she matters, to believe she’s worthy of love. They changed her life in that moment because they looked up, and they did something about it.
You don’t need to be the best. You don’t need to be perfect. You don’t need to be healed. You don’t need to be qualified, degreed, or merited. You just need to look, and when you see,act.
Consider this your official knighting. I hereby decree that you’re 100% everything you need to love someone who needs it. So get your eyes off yourself, go, and freaking do it. Because someone around you needs it this very moment.
The superhero this world needs isn’t actually a superhero. It’s someone who’s willing to say yes to an opportunity when they see it. It’s you.