Anyone Could Have Done It: when self-deprecation turns silly


Christians have perfected the tortuous over-spiritualizing of self-deprecation.

You see it in ministry all the time. Someone tries to pay a sincere compliment to another Christian and gets smacked down faster than a flyweight amateur at a heavyweight MMA title match. The person trying to be an encourager leaves the conversation deflated, and the person who deflected the encouragement walks away with a false sense of spiritual superiority.

But here’s how I’d love to see the conversation go sometime:

“That music you played during the offering was wonderful. You are such a gifted pianist.”

“It wasn’t me. It was all God.”

“But God used you and all your talent to bring us that wonderfully worshipful music.”

“Oh, anyone could have done that.”

“Yeah I guess you’re right. Like a little baby could have.”

“No, not a little baby, of course.”

“OK, not a little baby. Their hands are too small, and they can’t see the keyboard unless you put them in a booster seat, and their feet would never reach the pedals. But like you said anyone could; even someone who has never taken any piano lessons, like me.”

“What? I’ve been taking lessons all my life.”

“All your life, huh?”

“Yes, and I practice 3 hours a day. Minimum.”

“OK, you practice three hours a day …”


“… three hours a day minimum, you’ve been taking lessons all your life, and you probably practiced that piece you played today quite a bit too.”

“Of course.”

“Yeah, I see what you mean.”

“About what?”

“That wonderfully worshipful piece you played, the one that you practiced for, that all your lessons and practicing over the years led up to, the one that was so meaningful during the offering … it was nothing special.”

“What do you mean it was nothing special?!”

“Like you said, anyone could have done it.”

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8 Responses to Anyone Could Have Done It: when self-deprecation turns silly

  1. Aimee Byrd says:

    I need to be this witty in conversation 😉

  2. mikesteeden says:

    As an entirely ‘non-aggressive’ type Atheist (i.e. I try not to lay my life view on others) I must say I like the way you write mainly, I think, because you are channeling observation through the tunnel we all travel down, namely, humour?

  3. Here’s to the simple “thanks” but the spirit that says silently, “may YOU, GOD, get the glory.”

    • Tim says:

      True, Carol. Or what about, “Thanks, it was a huge blessing for me to be able to play that today too.” So many ways to honor God and the appreciative person both.

  4. Ha, I’m with you Tim.
    One option is, we could graciously say “thank you” and allow that person to bless us, and then smile as we realize our efforts to bless God were actually fruitful. That isn’t allowing pride to take root, rather it is cultivating gratitude and discipline.

    What a great post.

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