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Sunday, March 8, 2009

Jazz + Sincerity + Fear


"I think we're back to the time of Liszt and Chopin. The iPod has taken away the whole platinum record sales prospect. Sincerity and specificity are going to be the hot commodities in music. Everybody can have anything that they want, so now it gets into what specifically you have to give." - Eric Lewis

Jazz and life. Waaaaay too much in common.

I would propose that what Lewis says here has tremendous implications for the way we live our lives.

If we take Lewis seriously, maybe we should stop trying to get the record deal. Maybe a large church shouldn't be the goal. Perhaps a larger client base should not be our fixation. Am I suggesting we surrender our goals? Nope. I am suggesting what Eric Lewis describes. Sincerity and specificity are the hot commodities. The world does not need someone who tries harder to save it. It needs you to be you. It needs me to be me. What I am saying, and I believe Lewis is underscoring, is that our impact is often clouded by our effort.

I'll admit it. I am a results centered man. I imagine myself as the volunteer coach of my daughter's soccer team, pulling the goalie when we are down by a score. I was the pastor counting the number of empty seats. I compulsively check the Cubs score. I can very easily become obsessed with outcomes. But what good is this outcome obsession? Being obsessed with outcomes can limit my ability to do what I have been created to do. When focused on the results, I am generally living for the approval for others. I am playing to just beat the other guy. I am doing business to make a pretty penny. All of this misguided effort can get in the way of doing what feels most true, or as Lewis says, sincere.

So what stops us from being sincere? What stops us from exposing our authentic self? Fear.

And I believe these moments of fear are alarms that let us know when we are closest to what is true for us.

If this jarrod-ism is indeed true then our heightened levels of fear point to the exact moments, relationships, and risks that we must engage. In a sense we have to embrace the fear and move past it. Turn our insecurity into a strength. Learn as we go. Adapt. Release the need for perfection. Stop worrying about the approval of others. Only then can we exchange our fear for curiosity and generosity. Only when we name fear as a sign of hope, moving outside the limitations of our outcome centered worries, will we be able to take the risks required to change the world. Only then will we know the song, job, marriage, city, or relationship that is true to our souls.

"When the forms of an old culture are dying, the new culture is created by a few people who are not afraid to be insecure.” German activist Rudolf Bahro

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