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7/17/2006

WORDS AND MUSIC

After the gig a guy in his early twenties walks up to me and introduces himself. "I'm Shaun," I say. "I know," he says and laughs as if me introducing myself is silly. Then he tells me an amazing story of how his life "turned around" and how God "changed" him and how he's now studying to be a pastor. And the ending of his tale is that I'm somehow to credit for this. Well, a song of mine.

He said he heard that song and it made him feel and think differently than he had and God "spoke" to him through it.

And then those awkward compliments/labels got thrown on top of me again: Anointed. Blessed. God speaks through you like no one else. Etc.

Awkward.

I don't know what to do in moments like this. I used to cut myself down, pridefully bring up some negative aspect of myself or performance. "I only know five chords" or "Man, I'm just as messed up as you are" only made scenes like this one more uncomfortable. So now I just say, "Thank you."

The fear though is that just saying thanks and not reminding "fans" and myself frequently that I'm no better, wiser, or closer to God than they are might allow my ego to get the best of me one day. Sooner than later I could be that guy wearing sunglasses inside and demanding sun dried tomatoes and brown M&Ms in his rider.

So it was good to read the words of Philip Yancey this morning and feel like I'm in good company and not out of my mind to worry about getting swallowed by my own pride. He writes...

"I think, frankly, every writer faces the temptation of pride. There’s an inherent assumption that what I’ve got to say is worth your time—read my book! [Laughter] Writing is an odd field because there is no more paranoia-producing, lonely occupation than sitting there with a blank computer screen wondering if you can come up with something that can capture people’s attention. So, that’s a very humbling aspect. But then, if the book works and you go out to a book signing or to speak somewhere, then there are all these people saying, “Oh, you’re so wonderful. You changed my life. You have all these answers.” Fortunately, 80 percent of my life is sitting in the basement struggling and the other part just seems like this unreal world."

The next incarnation of this website is an attempt on my part to let you see more of the 80% of my life spent struggling to write music, to market it, to understand where it comes from and why it sometimes doesn't come at all. The new shaungroves.com will have two blogs - apart from SHLOG - simply called "MUSIC" and "WORDS" where I'll post about the creative process as it happens - maybe once a week. I'll try to explain what happens in the basement - the easy and not-so-easy path to creating something that will later miraculously benefit other people.

The hope, I think, is that you'll be less likely to call me things I'm not and more likely to go off and create something of your own. You'll be grateful when something I write means something to you but you won't put me on a pedestal for having penned it. You'll know I stumbled my way through that chorus. I didn't sit down by a burning bush and take dictation. And then maybe if you see me after a show we can talk like two mere humans, equals trying to hear and follow God - and the awkward will stop.

11 Comments:

Blogger Nancy Tyler said...

I've always appreciated your candor and I'm looking forward to seeing that continue in even bigger ways on your new website.

But...I don't know that 'the awkward' will ever really stop.

I think as long as you are on the stage as a pastor, a musician or an author, a lot of those who are off the stage looking up AT you will continue looking up TO you.

We humans are so hungry for heroes. And there in your spotlight, you fit the bill for some.

It takes grace to say "thanks" when you feel unworthy of a flood of praises.

Thank you for showing that grace, for being real, and for fighting to hold onto the humility.

n

7/17/2006  
Blogger Amy said...

Thanks for being so honest and candid. I'm also looking forward to the new incarnation of this web site. I think it will be great to get to "see" the behind the scenes stuff.

And, yes, I agree with Nancy, as long as you're a performer you will have those awkward moments. I used to lead worship at my church, and I know the feelings you are having. Just having someone come up and say, "Wow, that was a great solo today...you did an awesome job" feels strange. Especially if I knew that I messed up somewhere or something. I, like you, want to point it out, but I know that it doesn't matter to that person or to God that I messed up. What matters is that it touched that person in some way, and they want to express that to you.

Thanks for the great music Shaun, and for what you say here on Shlog.com as well as at concerts. I have only seen you twice, once with Bebo Norman a long time ago in Austin or San Antonio, and once at the KSBJ 20th anniversary concert (4 years ago) in Houston. You were just starting out then, and I think your words really stood out to me. I like it when artists are also good speakers because I feel like I am not. So, to see an amazing musician that can also "preach" is an inspiration to me. So, thanks for all you've done for so many people.

7/17/2006  
Anonymous Drew said...

You know, I always wondered if you and other artists felt "the awkward". This has happened to me as well, after leading worship. It really does feel awkward to worship God and see others really connecting with Him, and then have someone tell you that you did a great job. I never know what to say to that. Thanks for sharing your heart. I hope you learn to get past the awkward.

7/17/2006  
Anonymous Sonflower said...

Shaun....you are so REAL!!!

*realizes I just put you on a pedestal....knocks you off*;0

How about this....your heart shows through....

7/17/2006  
Anonymous andrew said...

The creative process has been something I've really been interested in lately, especially from a Christian songwriter's perspective. Thanks for having the guts to want to show it to us, warts and all.

Can't wait to see the new site!

7/17/2006  
Blogger Brody Harper said...

M&M's.... yummy. Mere humans like those too you know.

7/17/2006  
Blogger texags said...

...pridefully bring up some negative aspect of myself or performance

Nicely put. I agree. I think when people tell us "thank you" for touching their lives in some way, they're also asking for acknowlegement that they mean something to us. That means giving some of the value of their praise back to them. It takes incredible humility for the average person to say the words "you're welcome." We usually hedge with, "no problem," "it was nothing," etc. I have great difficulty saying "you're welcome" when someone tells me thanks.

Maybe we've all known that one narcissistic person that would (publicly) throw out the phrase "you're welcome" with flippancy, and we're afraid of being labeled as haughty. The thing is, usually no-one is watching, and the person saying "thank you" needs to know that we delivered whatever it was that we gave them with the intensity worthy of a sincere "you're welcome."

This was my first time visiting your site, and I like it. I'll give your music a listen, too. Thanks!

7/17/2006  
Blogger Kathryn said...

it's so cool how something God inspired you to do He uses to inspire others. It's like this 'recirculation' cycle, which can be easily stopped, blocked by the receiver's will. . but when we don't interfere with the process it's power is unlimited.

7/18/2006  
Anonymous tunz4jesus said...

Shaun,
Good to read your comments. One of the best pieces of advice I have ever received regarding this comes from Heather Brown. When people approach her to compliment her on her gifts, music etc. the only thing I have heard come from her mouth is about the glory of God. By the end of the discussion she has people telling her what good things God has done in their lives and how blessed they all are. The focus totally falls off her onto Him. I used to think I could emmulate that, and I can in a forced kind of way, but that is the way she lives, it is the most natural thing to come out of her mouth and just like her music, seems effortless.
Thanks for reminding me of this,
Tunz

7/18/2006  
Anonymous ann said...

Wasn't Moses a mere human?

7/19/2006  
Anonymous Cara Cooke said...

So, I've been in the hospital, so I know this is an old blog. But I want to give my two cents on it anyways...WHOW...no pun intended..I promise! (good song though) Anywho,
I chuckled at the part where you expressed how you said you want to remind us (fans) that you are not any more 'hollier' then any of us (fans). I chuckled not being rude, but because I always think something on the same lines. In fact, when I come across an artist, you for instant, I always remind them (artists) that they are blessed for the Gift and talent God gave them (artists). But I was thinking that is is wonderful that the artists where the ones who chose to give it back to him (God) by singing songs of his Glory, and what he has done in peoples' lives. Because you are not singing about ungodly, worldy sinful stuff! Power to you~ on that note!
Gee, I love talking about God!
Okay I'm done!
God Bless

7/24/2006  

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