I remember how it felt to play drums in a pickup worship band for a weekend youth retreat while in seminary. We practiced for about 3 months prior to the event and even performed as a Beatles “mock-up” band at a college fund raiser. This gave us more time to learn and feel each others style. Another thing it gave us was confidence. We were received well as the “Beat-less” (as we called ourselves for the Beatles show). Though we were not beat-less at all! We were very much in sync with each other as we performed old Beatles songs to the delight of the audience. People danced. They sang along. We received a lot of APPLAUSE! It felt so good! It was affirming! It made us perform better!
A few weeks later we played the entire weekend for a youth retreat of close to 1500 in attendance. We didn’t go by any name. We didn’t want any credit given to us but only to the Lord whom we were all gathered to worship. Though we did get applause and many compliments between sets. And still, it did make us feel good. We were affirmed in what we were doing. And it made us performed better. That retreat was a very positive and energizing experience for me, as well as the rest of the band members. That “high” lasted over a week!
I don’t know the performance experience of anyone who might read this post. My personal limited performance experience was basically just described in the above two paragraphs. But we all have a lived life experience. Some of us may be very good at one thing or another and have been told so about it from time to time. We have the affirmation of our friends and families which motivates us to become better people. In essence we all have received APPLAUSE in our lives. This applause is necessary, for we are not islands unto ourselves. We need others around us who like us and are willing to applaud us from time to time.
Unfortunately there are some people who are cut-off from friends and family. They feel isolated. They may not receive much affirmation in their lives. Such people that I have encountered are the homeless when I patrol the streets within my home city. I noticed just the other day how one homeless man sincerely thanked me for taking 10 minutes to talk with him. Later, I thought how uplifted he felt. He felt good. He was affirmed. He was in a sense APPLAUDED!
Here is an analogy I thought of recently. Imagine this:
You are an actor on stage. You just gave your best performance. You know it was good. You look at the audience, and they do NOTHING. They just sit there. They give no response. How do you feel? Think about it. That is how homeless people feel. That is how any of us may feel when we have tried our best and received nothing, no recognition, in return.
How does an actor go on without an applause? In time I think he would just quite his career. How would we go on in life without the encouragement, love and support of friends and family in our lives?
In short, this all comes down to building people up, instead of tearing people down. I’m not suggesting giving applause or praise without merit. After all, the actor in the above analogy did perform well and earned the right to an applause! And there is something in all of us that merits an applause from time to time. That something may not only be what we do but simply who we are as persons.