Posts Tagged ‘humility’

So I’ve been reading Heart of the Artist by Rory Noland (that’s my “arts and mime” related book of the moment, in case you’re wondering why I’m reading several at once).

It’s been great so far (I think I’m about half way through).  Each week I read a chapter and I think it’s the best and most needed (for me to read) yet!  And that happened again today. But today’s chapter was so good that I wanted to share brief excerpts of it.  Things I needed to hear and I think others could, too.  There’s a part especially relevant if I ever have (or ever do) ask for your feedback on a mime or story or something of mine.

Good quotes:

Sometimes those of us with artistic temperaments get defensive when we’re criticized. We can be overly sensitive, and we let the least little thing hurt us.

In effort to protect our self-esteem, we open ourselves up to something more damaging than a bruised ego, and that’s deception. Believe me, being deceived about your abilities is far worse than knowing and accepting your strengths and weaknesses.

Because [we artists are] going to pick up a lot of things [that others might not even notice], we need to be careful that we don’t pick up something that’s not really there. Our intuition is not infallible.

If you’re taking something personally but are not sure it was meant to be taken that way, check it out.

To be vulnerable is a price every performer pays… You pour your heart and soul into creating something, and you hold it protectively in your hands. When it comes time to show it to the world, you open your hands up slowly, hoping no one will kill your brainchild before it has a chance to become something. Because art is such a personal thing, it’s difficult for us to separate ourselves from our work.

And here are some words about offering feedback.  Most of these are edited down and paraphrased.

What makes criticism constructive is the way it’s delivered. If it’s not offered in a loving way, it can do more harm than good.

  1. Give your overall reaction first.  If your overall reaction is that it was good or great, say that before pointing out any flaws you found.  Often, we take for granted that the person knows it was great or we fail to say that aloud simply because it doesn’t seem specific enough.  But “remember, to the artist who’s excited about what the or she is working on and seeks your opinion, your first words represent your overall reaction.”
  2. Try to say something positive and let positive words be your first.  Give feedback in a way that shows love and respect and treats the person with dignity.  Mention strengths before weaknesses.
  3. Acknowledge the hard work and effort that was put into something even if it failed.  They did not work to fail.  “Most people have no idea who many hours an artist has invested in a performance or in a work.”
  4. Avoid hyperboles and negative comparisons.  Don’t use hyperboles even in a positive sense.  Avoid any uses of “that was the best,” “that was the absolute worst,” and the like.  Also, don’t emphasize something by comparing negatively to something else.  His example was calling a piece of music “warmed-over Tchaikovsky.”
  5. Be honest.  Don’t be warm-fuzzy and fluffy and make things up or exaggerate.  Be honest, but give the truth with love.  And don’t be trite.

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The other day I was in the bathroom, standing at the sink and I remember looking up and seeing the clock.  And I’m not sure exactly where my thoughts were, but I do remember suddenly thinking, “Jesus, if you – you who are God and Creator – emptied yourself, how much more should I – I who am human and created being – empty myself?”

Then today’s devotional reading was this:

3Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

5Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
6Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
7but made himself nothing,
taking the very natureof a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
9Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
10that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

And this thread of thought was so clearly woven.  I need to empty myself.  Or, perhaps more rightly, to be emptied.  And I need to be a bond-servant of God and allow God to make me into the likeness of His Son – the likeness of Jesus.  Emptied of myself, servant of God, re-made into the likeness of Jesus.

And just as this emptying and servanthood and being in the likeness of humans meant humility and obedience and death and a cross for Jesus, so this emptying and servanthood and being re-made into the likeness of Jesus requires humility and obedience and death and crosses for me.

And it is not our names which our exalted.  But we strive to exalt God and to proclaim Jesus so that others will choose to humble themselves now, bowing their knees and confessing that Jesus is Lord.  Now.  While they still have opportunity before the end when they have no choice.  (For there will be a day, the day when Jesus is revealed in His glory – and His glory will be so overwhelming that even those who do not choose to serve or bow now will not be able to help but fall to their needs and confess that Jesus is, indeed, the Lord.)

Emptied of myself, servant of God, re-made into the likeness of Jesus.

Which means humility and obedience and death and crosses.

And all of this to the glory of God!

O, Lord, empty me!

And as my reading was turned into these thoughts and these thoughts led to that cry of my heart, the words of a song came to my lips:

Empty me of the selfishness inside
Every vain ambition and the poison of my pride
And any foolish thing my heart holds to
Lord empty me of me so I can be filled with you.

(The song is “Empty Me” by Chris Sligh and you can watch it with lyrics here.)

O Lord, empty me.

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