Please, Mr. Ambassador

I recently attended a portion of another high-quality conducting symposium.  A good battery recharge!  I was happy, however, to have planned to leave the day before a certain guest lecturer was due to come in for the afternoon.  This guest is someone I’ve heard and read before, and in both cases, I’ve been put off by his overblown ego.  While offering the band world some valuable pedagogical thoughts, this clinician has in my estimation made his material unappealing by a few unappealing aspects in his person.  Although he wants to be an advocate, an ambassador for his methodologies, he is doing himself somewhat of a disservice by manifesting such arrogant self-centeredness that some of us can’t stand to be around him.  I once sat with him in a small dinner group; he began so many sentences with “I” that my meal hardly stayed down.

Mr. Blank’s ambassadorship for his profession, in my view, is compromised by his character and personality — or at least by how he sometimes comes across.  Further, a key area of his method uses different phrasing than the generally accepted terminology in the field, and he makes a big deal of his choice of the different set of terms.  Several times, I’ve tried to figure out his rationale, but I have yet to figure it out.  I think he’s a trifle obtuse in this counter-cultural choice of wordings.  This bit of distaste doesn’t do anything for his ambassador role, either.

One of my roles is to coordinate and advocate for chamber music’s place in our school of music.  Although pretty much all my colleagues and maybe half the students are beginning to buy in, to some extent, I suspect that I have not always been a great ambassador for chamber music.  Part of my shortcoming—in my case and in the case of the unidentified zealot above—has been my general ardor, but there have probably been other missteps and aspects of my “program” that have become bitter in the mouths of some hearers.

Since I’m not very knowledgeable about the political process or the various roles of nominated/appointed/confirmed officials, I won’t comment much about the political ambassador’s role, except to say that whatever he is and does should certainly help in relationships between two countries, right?  I would think that an individual’s ability to bridge the gap between cultures, and/or to communicate about important issues, and to serve as an appealing advocate for one nation to another, are key in making selections of men such as the ambassador-nominee pictured here.

The Christian’s ambassadorship deserves attention, too.  (I have for years thought “ambassador” or “advocate” was a prime way to depict the Christian in his mission.  Although used only once to my knowledge [2 Cor 5:20], the word “ambassador” seems more inclusive, extending to a greater number of people, than “missionary” or “evangelist” or “reacher of the lost.”)   How often do I compromise the purpose of Jesus by my character and personality?  How often do my self-absorbed ramblings erect a barrier between the Cause and those I’m seeking to influence?  How much of the Christ’s core appeal is obscured by my personally unappealing foibles or my counter-cultural choices of ways and means?

Please, Mr. Ambassador, don’t get in the way of what you’re advocating.

And please, Jesus, shine around and through our dark humanness.

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4 thoughts on “Please, Mr. Ambassador

  1. Bob Bell 07/15/2011 / 9:31 am

    …I realize that rhetorical questions do not demand an answer however in this case I feel compelled to provide one. You asked how often, how often and, how much. Speaking for myself the answers are (sadly) daily, daily and, too much! Having said that, I must take solace in the belief that God had a purpose in making me this way with all of my flaws intact. I may not be the best ambassador for Jesus as judged by the human eye but somehow I am still fulfillng my purpose in his great plan.

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    • Brian Casey 07/17/2011 / 8:10 pm

      Bob, your compulsion is a positive one, it seems to me.

      Quite a humble reply–and not falsely humble, but a humility that seeks to give credit where it is due. Must confess that I question the connection of my concept of 1) what I am and 2) what I do to 3) “His great plan.” Call it an insecurity, and you’d be right. Call it a bad day (today, I have very little sense of purpose or concept of His plan), and you’d be right. Call me human, too, and we’ll be human together.

      Hey, maybe we can catch up w/each other again next month….

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  2. Cornelius Young 09/20/2013 / 3:03 pm

    It’s so interesting that you would post a reply stating the arrogance of one who has made it in the conducting/teaching field. Even though you chose to read his books and chose to go to that symposium could it be that maybe God had a reason for you to meet this man. Now you could be talking about [edited], but the fact is your perception maybe clouding the lessons you were to learn. If self centered ness is a problem then continue to read the New Testament. Jesus spoke as if he were the only option. However since he is/ was the only way to heaven then maybe he wasn’t trying to be self centered at all. People tell truths and share stories from their points of view and no one else’s. Could one of your lessons to learn be that you need to be more humble or more accepting. I would also suggest that if you want to keep a certain person anonymous that you should not give away so much information on when you met him. I found your post because I was looking for conducting symposiums and ran across this.

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    • Brian Casey 09/20/2013 / 3:59 pm

      Thanks for taking the time to comment.

      In this long-ago post, one of my purposes, as best I remember it, was to acknowledge just what you suggest: that* perceptions cloud things.* I’m sorry that that didn’t come across as well as I intended, but if you look at the latter half of the post, I think you can readily find evidence of my own self-analysis and even humility. See words like “missteps” and “shortcoming” and “dark humanness.”

      As a side note, you’re probably right that I should have made more efforts to keep someone anonymous (and I am editing the post now for that very reason), but the fact that you find at least four possibilities indicates that the person is still anonymous. I’ve had multiple interactions with two more on that list, and I find them to be a) much more insightful and b) much less egocentric. (BTW, I did actually meet the figure in question once, and sat across a table from him, and *another *person at the table later commented, without provocation from me, along the same lines — that the person was all about himself, and it was rather embarrassing. At the symposium, I had no personal interaction with the person.)

      If you want to talk New Testament, let’s do that, but I’m not sure what you’re saying in reference to Jesus. There’s a major difference, from where I sit (and of course I realize that not everyone sees Jesus as I do): Jesus has absolute credibility and authority because of His origins, and anyone else ought to take great pains not to appear as though he has all the answers.

      On a different level, I read you as saying that authorities do have answers, i., they have something worthwhile to share. Yes, you’re right. Anyone who has begun developing artistry and artistic viewpoints probably has something worthwhile to share with those less experienced. Sometimes I am very dogmatic — when I am very convinced, or very experienced, or some combination. And I *still *may be wrong at these very times. It is always good to be reminded that we are but human and are not infallible!

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