Since I returned from my conference a few weeks ago I've blogged twice about things that I learned or experienced at my conference. I do this because I had a great experience at the conference (hence the name "Experience Conference") and I just want to share some of the things I learned, experienced, and heard while I was there. Today's post will be no different.
One of our speakers was James MacDonald.
He is the Senior Pastor of Harvest Bible Chapel in Chicago. He is also the head of "Walk in the Word" ministries. You might have even heard one of his radio broadcasts. He has a tremendous heart for worship and worship leaders, and so he came and spoke to us at the conference. Now, one of the main themes that each of our speakers shared with us during the week was humility. As worship leaders, pastors, musicians, etc... we are to remain humble in what we do. Being on a stage with hundreds (for some there, thousands) of people watching you, it can be easy to become proud and boastful in what you do. James MacDonald also spoke about this and closed his message to us with this story.
He said that one day he received an angry letter from a church member who blasted him (as the Senior Pastor) for what one of the other pastors had supposedly done (foul language in a pick-up basketball game). Now if you've ever worked at or served in a church, you've probably received a letter like this before. James said that he normally would have just discarded the letter and forgotten about it, but there was something in this letter that bothered him. He said that at the end of the letter, the church member called him a "donkey". I'll be honest with you, I'm not even sure what that really means. Who calls someone a donkey? I mean really. A donkey? That's just sad.
Well, he said that being called a donkey really bothered him. He said that he just couldn't shake it over the next few days. He kept saying to himself, "I'm just a donkey" and "I'm nothing but a donkey". So, by Friday of that week, he realized that he had himself a problem. He had to write his sermon for that weekend and all he could think of was that he was a donkey. Well, on Friday he met a pastor friend of his for lunch but didn't mention the "donkey" letter to his friend. When lunch was done, he walked his pastor friend to his car and his friend said this: "James, you are doing a great job at the church, but you know what they say about the donkey?" To which James (in astonishment) replied, "No, what do they say about the donkey?" And his pastor friend said, "Even the donkey knew that the palm branches and coats laying before him were not for him but were for the one riding on his back (referring to Jesus' triumphal entry)".
He told us this story to remind us to be humble and stay humble. The lights and applause and adoration that sometimes get poured on us aren't for us at all. They are for Jesus. We're just the donkeys that He is riding on.