Tag Archives: Confidence

Stand, Ask, Deliver

A friend on Facebook shared this video of a guy who got to play piano with Billy Joel. In the video, I noticed some great stuff than any writer will appreciate. This student apparently loves Billy Joel songs, specifically New York State of Mind.

Maybe he plays them on public pianos whenever he goes somewhere.  He probably has accompanied many people, singers at his school perhaps.  He’s definitely practiced like crazy.  I know because we can’t just do stuff.  We all need practice.

Billy Joel came to his school, Vanderbilt University, and invited people to ask him questions. Michael Pollack’s friends all pointed toward him. As he speaks, you can hear the fear trembling through his vocal chords, but when Billy calls on him he stands up.

Michael then asks the question he’s probably thought about asking ever since he heard that Billy Joel would visit his school.  “I was wondering if I could play it (New York State of Mind) with you?”

What a gutsy guy! How many of us have wanted to ask something like this, but never even stood up to make the ask? We often psyche ourselves out before anyone could point the finger our way.

If you keep watching the video, you’ll see something else.  Billy Joel says, “Ok.”

That’s generous.  He has no idea what kind of skills this guy has. Most singers prefer accompanists who make them look good.

Then, Billy opens his book and lets Michael see his score. At this point, our jaws drop open.

Michael’s fingers tickle the tops of the keys adeptly, and Billy let’s him take the show.  While they don’t have the seasoned sound of people who tour together for months on end, Michael holds up his part of the song with strength and ease.

He was gutsy enough to stand and ask, but smart and thorough enough to have practiced well for this day.  Bravo Michael.  Thanks for the inspiration.

It’s time to get back to proofing my book.  I want to be ready to follow through when it’s my time to stand and make the ask.


What’s your confidence quotient?

Kevin Johnson at a mayoral rally on 28 May 200...
Image via Wikipedia

We don’t all meet famous people but occasionally it happens.  Usually, I end up feeling foolish because my tongue and mouth become intertwined and out comes absurd gibberish.  But one time, I actually spoke and listened well.

Fifteen years of my life, I lived in the Valley of the Sun also known as Phoenix, Arizona.  One would never describe it as celebrity central, but we had our own kind of celebrities.

In the eighties and early nineties, the popular people centered around the only professional sport in town.  Basketball.  Especially, Phoenix Suns basketball.  Let’s face it, I was a fan.

I adored watching Thunder Dan fling the ball from center court or K.J. (aka Kevin Johnson) corralling the troops as their amazing point guard.  I was such a fan, when the Suns attempted to win the Championship against the all-powerful Chicago Bulls, headed by Michael Jordan, I paid money to watch an away game at the Phoenix Stadium on the big screen just to be in the camaraderie of other fans.

Having said all this, you must know how I felt when one day I sat reading my Bible in a local coffee shop and in walked the previously mentioned K.J. (aka Kevin Johnson).  He sauntered toward me with the confidence of someone who knew the room was watching.  They were.

I said, “Hi.”  (This was huge for me.)

He said, “What are you reading?”

It’s a put up or shut up moment.  Do I claim Christ with confidence or cower in a corner and wait for the moment to pass?

To be fair, it was well-known around town that K.J. was a Christian.  In fact, friends from my church worked for him.  But the moment still felt immense.

I took a big breath, “I’m reading my Bible.  I’m a youth pastor, and we’re meeting tonight.”  (Yeah, I know, too much information, but at least I said it clearly.)

He made some small talk about where he went to church and set up his three cell phones at a table.  Clearly, he had work to do.  I resumed reading.  After a bit, he said, “I have a hundred dollar bill in my pocket, if you know a verse I mention, I’ll give it to your youth group.”


I wasn’t entirely confident, but thought it worth a go.

He said, “The verse is found in Hebrews 3:14.”

I drew a blank.  Nothing.  Darn it!  Wasn’t that why I was attending seminary?  I confessed my ignorance.  He grinned, and I looked it up.

Here’s what it said:

“We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first.”

He and I had a conversation about how faith doesn’t consist of the moments, but the longevity.  We must hold firm continually.  The conversation was short, but I still remember it 22 years later.  In my Bible reading today, I came across that verse and the tale unfolded again in my mind.

How often do we openly converse about our relationship with God with other people?  Sometimes we know they share our faith and sometimes we don’t.  The verse mentions having confidence, like K.J. had when he walked into that coffee-house.  We need that kind of confidence in our God.  The kind of confidence that makes us brave enough to share His story when the opportunity presents itself.  Whether remember everything perfectly or not, we know what we’ve experienced.  It’s worth sharing.

My choice today:

Share my faith with confidence seeking open opportunities to stand firm in Him.