Recently, while teaching a class on humility, I carefully explained the concept.  Then I asked the class of adult students who are developmentally delayed, to name someone they knew who was humble.  After they all raised their hands, I said, “Now, if you were going to say me, we need to go over the teaching again.  Because I may be many things; but I am NOT the most humble person you’ve ever met.”  The class laughed because they knew that statement was certainly true. 

I do try to show humility but I have to admit that I enjoy center stage.  The bigger the audience, the better.  I am energized by being in front and in charge.  For me, the easiest joy you can give me is to make me president or chairperson of a project. 

When I first came to be a part of Special Gathering, one of my duties was choir director.  Though I had no formal training in conducting, I took on the position with zeal.  While I had years of experience in teaching and speaking, coming to The Special Gathering meant that I became a part of a world that I hardly knew existed.  Because the church has not often known what to do with this population, being active in the life of my church all my life had provided perfect insulation for me from the mentally challenged community.  I had much to learn and working with a small group in the choir setting was good training.

Secretly, I had wanted to be a choir director since I was a child.  I had been in choirs most of my life and I relished the magical tones produced by the blending of voices.  I carefully studied the various choral directors’ techniques as I sat under their direction.  I evaluated their conducting methods, noting which of their techniques helped the choir become one voice and which ones didn’t work.

As teenagers, we were given formal choral conducting classes in my church and at denominational music retreats.  As instructed by the class teacher, I would stand in front of the mirror and practice my conducting technique.  However, I never imagined that I would have the chance to use the grand gestures.

There is so much about what I do that has been the fulfillment of a lifetime of dreams.  However, I think the most exciting thing about being a choral director is that I am able to see other people taking center stage.  Watching the glow of excitment while others use their musical skills to share the Gospel message has been a great joy in my life. 

Terri can hardly speak.  When she does talk, only a few of her closest friends can understand her.  But she sings with amazing clarity.  During her solo work, Terri shines.  Her strong voice speaks clearly and passionately about her relationship with her Lord.  When Steve joined the choir, he was not physically able to look at me.  It was part of his disability.  Together we struggled to help him be able to overcome this part of his frailty.  Now he can look at me without even thinking twice.  Larry had been an introvert all of his life.  He also has severe sleep apnea.  He struggles successfully to keep awake during our choral work because he wants people to see the Lord working through him.

While humility is not part of my make-up, I never mind giving up center stage for a group of people who work frantically hard to be able to communicate the love of Jesus through song.

Have you seen changes with people as they have learned to express themselves though music?  What part of being in a choir do you enjoy the most?  What are some spiritual truths that you have learned from seeing mentally challenged people taking center stage and expressing their devotion to Jesus?