Elmer Booze takes the stage for a concert piano recital, but he never receives the applause. He has music degrees from two universities, but you won’t find him tickling the ivory. Booze is a professional page-turner. He is known as “the ghost,” unobtrusive to the musician and invisible to the audience.
Dr. Booze, whose stellar career has spanned four decades, has "performed" on the stage at the Kennedy Center, the national Gallery of Art, the Canadian Embassy, and the Library of Congress. He has even turned pages at the White House.
With Elmer in the shadows pianists relax, music flows, and audiences are delighted. It is only when the ghost is gone that the real terror begins—for the performer and the audience!
Reading Paul's letter to the Philippians, I realize that God wants all his people to be "ghosts."
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Philippians 2:3-8 ESV
The gospel reminds me that Jesus "played the ghost." He humbly assumed the servant role, he released the grip on his glory, and put our interests above his own.
Living a gospel-centered life means that I too "play the ghost." This can be frightening:
- If I serve in the shadows, will my talent be spotted?
- If my name is not on the byline, will I be forgotten?
- If I take a back seat, will someone take advantage of me?
The fear of being ignored, forgotten, or used is a legitimate fear, but "ghosts" don't worry -- the performance is not ultimately about them or for them. Their lives are given in service of others to the glory of God.
Today I will be turning pages at the World Leaders Conference. My duty involves introducing Marcus Buckingham during a speaker luncheon. Mr. Buckingham was educated at Cambridge University. He is a best-selling author, and in-demand consultant. People will be there to see him, not me. I'm the set-up guy.
My little task reminds me that there are many pages to be turned today.
God wants you to be the ghost?