So Tom and Naomi know a certain local excellent guitar player and if Tom, especially, says a guy plays a mean guitar, well, he does. Tom is Mr. Music.
But the problem is that if you tell Guitar Player how awesomely he played, he will begin listing all the mistakes he made during the concert. He'll tell you that no, he's not that great of a musician. He shoulda done better.
For years, it's been the same. Whole crowds tell him, over and over, that he's amazing, but still, he hems and haws and denies his ability.
Tom and Naomi wish they could get this guy to, well, stop that. To stop criticizing his musicianship, his gift, and being so hard on himself. But really? They could ask a thousand well-known, ultra-talented musicians to pat this guy on the back and assure him of his mega-guitar-talent but still, it would make no real difference. I've a feeling if, after all that, one talentless guy came along and told Guitar Player he wasn't worth the ticket money he paid to listen, well, Guitar Player would probably go home hanging his head.
The weird thing, of course, is that most likely, Guitar Player needs to hear all those compliments. Next to loving music, affirmation is probably what he loves next best, but for whatever reasons, he's unable to accept it as truth. I heard he had critical parents who wanted him to forget the whole music scene (to fling away his talent) and that kind of thing goes deep.
You pay some people compliments and automatically they reply, "No, I'm a lousy musician." Or, "Ugh. My writing is no Hemingway." "This lasagna I made turned out bad." "I really messed-up my solo."
They believe they're sounding humble, but actually? If the lasagna was great, why lie and say it wasn't? (Hint: God doesn't think those kinds of lies are ok.) If you're a good writer, why brush away every compliment with, "Nah, I could have done better. So-and-so is a million times better."?
There comes a time to simply say, "Thank-you. I appreciate your saying that."
And there also comes a time to stop competing against a whole world of musicians, writers and cooks--and instead--compete only against ones self. To use our gift more faithfully, more fully and freely than we did the last time. To do our best, to learn all we can about ways in which to better use our God-given gifts so to make others smile, to give them hope and appreciation of the Giver of All Gifts.
For really, it's all about acceptance of who we are and what we've been given. It's about Grace and simple obedience. And it's about Love most of all.
"... but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise." II Corinthians 10:12