The Old Man and the Guitar

May 29, 2019

When I was a younger man and recently graduated from college I was able to work at the State Capitol in Texas.  My office was actually on the first floor of the Capitol building as my boss had seniority. I was also attending graduate school at the time so I spent almost every moment I was not working in the the office studying and having access to the office 24 hours a day made it very convenient.  I would take breaks by learning to play guitar and one could argue my guitar playing was better than my school work based upon my grades.

 

For those who have never been to the Texas Capitol there is a rotunda with the center being 300 feet below the top of the dome.  The acoustic effect of this design is for an amazing projection of sound throughout the building if you play in the center of the dome on ground level.  I was beginning to believe  I was Steve Vai (great guitarist look it up) and had started taking a chair to the middle of the rotunda and playing at midnight or beyond.  My audience was the janitorial crew and they would peek their heads over the railing on different floors from time to time.  One night, an elderly janitor (at least 65) approached me and asked if he could play some.  I handed him my guitar and what followed was the best lesson in humility I have ever been taught.  This man played better than BB King, Stevie Ray Vaughn and Steve Vai combined or at least I would like to believe he did because he made me look like a two year old banging on pots and pans in comparison.

 

The truth is I was not nearly as good as I thought and this poor man had been forced to listen to me play for weeks and was needlessly suffering.  He had the kindness to not ask me to stop playing but to simply interject in a gracious manner that I might want to go back into the office and practice some more. Luke 14:11 teaches us, "For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”  I got a dose of humility that night as I was seeking to exalt myself.

 

As athletes and coaches, we far to often find ourselves in situations where pride can overtake our good senses.  Where we look at our achievements in a vacuum and do not look to the many 
extenuating circumstances which have led to our accomplishments.  We should learn to check our pride at the door, to humble ourselves and give credit to others and most importantly to God. "So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God" 1 Corinthians 10:31. As Christians, we need to recognize the importance of His divine hand on our lives and humble ourselves daily (if not hourly) giving praise for the good and the difficulties which present themselves in our lives. 

 

I have never forgotten the old man and the guitar.  He was a gift from God and I am thankful for my short time with him as he has been one of the most influential men in my life.  He is one of my "life coaches". While he need not carry a whistle the effect of his actions was to teach me humility and is a memory and lesson I have to draw upon.  I pray you don't need the old man and the guitar in your life but if you struggle with humility that God will send him or one of his surrogates to help you check your pride at the door.

 

 

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