I’ve been playing the drums for twenty-three years. I’ve played everywhere from small clubs and dirty halls to big venues and posh studios. I’ve never become famous for it, but I’ve certainly earned a tidy bit of cash through gigs over the years, including a stint where I ran my own Drum School and taught almost 100 students.
You learn a lot about drums and drumming when you teach others how to play. For example, you quickly learn that most people only want to know how to play the kind of music they most prefer. That’s a pretty sharp contrast to what I learned. My teacher, Ron Melnyk, was a great believer in learning to play everything so you’d never get stuck in a rut or find yourself playing the same old beats and fills over and over. Anyway, most of my students thought that approach was dumb and just wanted to mash the drums like Animal from the Muppets.
You also learn that most kids who are keen to learn can learn the what of drumming way before they learn the when of drumming. They learn how to play every beat and fill, and hit every shot and figure, and max out every quirky technique within the first couple of years…but they’re still amateurs because they don’t know what goes where or when. Consequently, a lot of power ballads have occasioned accidental drum solos in the middle of the soft bits.
It’s not enough to know how to play. If you want to be a great drummer – or any musician for that matter – you have to know when play the right stuff at the right time. It’s about wisdom.
Wisdom and knowledge are different. In life, you can know everything there is to know about drumming but still triangle when you should’ve hit a crash. You can know everything there is about food and wine, but still drink beer with chocolate mousse. You can know everything there is to know about women, but still choke up when the one you like smiles and waves.
It takes wisdom to know what to do how and when.
Our world is rich in knowledge, but deficient in wisdom. We can all Google Grey’s Anatomy but no one in their right mind would trust an auto mechanic with a colonoscopy.
Because we’re able to learn so much so fast we’ve lost the knack for taking the little we know and applying it appropriately before moving on to something more complex. This is as true for spirituality as it is for everything else.
In Colossians, Paul informs the church that he’s praying for God to fill them with the knowledge of His will through all wisdom and understanding.
For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding.
COLOSSIANS 1.9 NIV
Paul doesn’t just want the church to know stuff about God, he wants them to know how to live differently because of what they know. The key point here is living differently. Our world turns knowledge into power. But Christ-followers are called, through our knowledge of God, to worship Jesus Christ who was powerless on the Cross. The way of the world is to exploit and exert and coerce—to get what you can now. The Way of Jesus is to turn the other cheek, placing others before yourself rather than getting ahead of others. Most Christians claim to know this, but few of us actually put this into practice.
Our world turns power into violence. But Christ-followers use what power we have to exhaust violence the way Jesus exhausted the powers of evil and oppression on the Cross. Once the powers of evil were depleted, the way of reconciliation was opened.
We know that the path of peace and reconciliation is the Jesus way, and yet most of us Christians are still busy trying to force our friends to convert, or our kids to believe, or our spouses to give. Everything we do tends toward aggression and control. We know what to do, but we find it so hard to do it.
We are like drummers soloing in the ballad.
But we must discipline ourselves and mature. We must submit to the Spirit and take Paul’s instruction to heart: Conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of God, fully desiring to please Him in all things, bearing fruit in every good work and steadily growing and increasing in and by the knowledge of God with fuller, deeper, and clearer insight, acquaintance, and recognition.
Dr. David McDonald is the teaching pastor at Westwinds Community Church in Jackson, MI. The church, widely considered among the most innovative in America, has been featured on CNN.com and in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and Time Magazine. David weaves deep theological truths with sharp social analysis and peculiar observations on pop culture. He lives in Jackson with his wife, Carmel, and their two kids. Follow him on twitter (@fossores) or online at fossores.com