Unsaid. Unplayed. Unwritten. Priceless.
In a recent podcast interview with Marion Cain, he said something that stuck with me.
"You understand the silence in between the words," he said.
He went on to say that master musicians know the real music is in notes not played.
What do you think he meant by that?
Elsewhere, the coronavirus scare gave me some spiritual golden opportunities like
you cannot imagine. One of them has been driving a deep wedge into the burgeoning
pride of my two sons, who are shaping up to be as prideful and pompous as their old
man ever was. Pride is subtle and sneaky, and believe it or not, there is a
professional lesson to be garnered if you have ears to hear.
Let me fill you in - we're not a tribe of bilious braggarts. This isn't the
pride you see lampooned by WWE wrestlers. I'm talking of willful, insistent and
self-absorbed pride that has no interest in listening to requests or instructions from
anyone but oneself. I grew up that way, and I'm determined to intercept it in
my sons. As much as I used to pursue life on my own terms.
To get the boys to complete work we assign them (since our school
system has decided on truancy as official policy), we've encountered resistance.
Particularly with their mother, they will use just about anything they can think of to
stall, drag their feet or otherwise postpone doing the actual work. It isn't work they're
incapable of doing. They simply don't want to do it, and will do anything to avoid it,
including pretending to be unable to understand it over and over again.
We have also established, through thousands of repetitions, that the boys do
not respond to verbal warnings, reminders, nagging, threats, confiscation of
video games, grounding or being confined indoors. Those things do irritate
them, of course. But they do not motivate them to complete their work.
I realized that those things are all "words said, notes played, writings
published and artwork painted." We'd failed to use our strongest tools.
Great music is never played aloud. Great poetry is never written. Great speeches
are never uttered, and great artwork is never painted, sculpted or sketched.
I think back to my theological underpinnings ... who is greater? Mozart, or the One
who made Mozart possible? There's obviously no comparison, but the One
who made Mozart possible never played an instrument while He walked the
earth ... or at least, we have no record of Him doing so.
Now, don't misunderstand. I'm not taking Marion's compliments as a comparison of
me to the Holy One of Israel. But the Holy One of Israel says he intends
for us to imitate him and do the things that he does. And one thing He's done
well for thousands of years is motivate people to act on faith, investing their
lives, fortunes and sacred honor in Him. In other words, He's very persuasive.
To put this in perspective, the God of the Bible still changes lives through
books, written across thousands of years. Of all the writings contained in them,
there is plenty left unsaid, unaddressed, not specified and not worthy of
mention. That's what makes it so persuasive; as high and glorious as God is, He
remains respectful of our agency and reasoning capacities as sentient beings. He
will not "baby" us by doing all the thinking for us. He expects us to think.
My friend Dr. Andy Garrett strikes a similar chord with what he calls
"intrinsic buy-in." This is when you lead by guiding people to a decision
they persuade themselves to make. It is easily the most powerful and
effective leadership style - not to mention the most authentic.
I confined each of my sons to their rooms one at a time, sitting on a chair inside
the rooms with them. They besieged me with protests, screams, tears, indignant
demands and questions. They unleashed torrents of fury and rage ...
... and I said nothing in reply.
I've noticed God responds similarly when we demand to "understand" Him
without worship, surrender or intimacy. He sits quietly, waiting for us to realize
that protests and resistance are futile. Sometimes, this process takes years.
In an interview I did a while back with Ryan Miller, I stressed this very same tactic:
now more than ever, we must learn when to be silent.
Silence has a way of speaking with great volume, especially in persuasive
exchanges. With the written word, it's even more compelling. "Why didn't they
write about such and such in the Bible?" I often wonder, incredulous. Then I
realize that the Bible's reading me, and not the other way around. If the
Bible spoke audibly it might say, "Why don't you ask yourself that question?"
Congratulations if you've read to the end. I'm thinking of releasing a free
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If you'd like to get that chapter free, reply with the words "FREE CHAPTER."