Play to the Size of Your Heart, Not the Size of the Crowd

A band recently taught me an incredibly simple truth about being awesome.

Their name is Seryn and they’re from Denton, TX. They kind of remind me of Mumford & Sons with more instruments and less British accents. Each member plays approximately 37 instruments and they constantly switch them out in the middle of the songs.

I first saw them play at the Catalyst Conference in front of 13,000 people. I was blown away by the energy they filled that arena with that day. They were unbridled with their passion, as if they couldn’t believe they got to play music in front of people.

I wrote about them on Facebook. A few days later, someone in the town next to ours emailed me. He said, “I saw you liked that band Seryn. They’re playing a house show in my living room. Do you and your wife want to come see them?” We did. So we did.

And it was an awkward experience at first. We just walked up to a small ranch house in the suburbs and knocked on the front door. Everyone there knew each other, except for us. We stood in the kitchen, having one of those really intense conversations you launch into with someone when you’re trying to pretend you’re not uncomfortable.

“What do you think these cabinets are made of? Pressed wood? Is that right? I would have thought they were another kind of wood. Interesting.”

An hour later, Seryn drove in from New York and set up all the aforementioned instruments in Larry’s living room. They tuned everything, had a sip of water, and then launched into their set.

I expected they’d play at a 3 or a 4, whatever the appropriate level of music is for a corner of taupe carpet next to a loveseat. I was wrong.

They didn’t play to the size of the crowd, they played to the size of their heart.

And it’s apparently huge.

The same joy I saw them dominate a stage of 13,000 people with weeks before was on display that night in a room full of 60 friends and two weird outsiders who seemed inappropriately interested in the cabinets. It was like Seryn couldn’t help to play that way. That was what was inside their heart.

Awesome doesn’t let the crowd determine the size of the performance. Awesome gets up for 2 people or 200. Awesome writes great books even if no one is going to read them. Awesome sweeps store floors when no one is looking.

Awesome can’t help itself.

Awesome has a huge heart. And that’s what it always plays too.

The size of the crowd doesn’t matter.

The applause of the audience doesn’t matter.

The money you make singing doesn’t matter.

And I hope you get all those things. I hope you have huge audiences and screaming fans and more money than Scrooge McDuck in his money bin. But, long before any of that, I hope you’ll learn the simple lesson Seryn taught me:

Play to the size of your heart, not the size of your crowd.

More from Jon Acuff here.

Download PDF

Tags: , ,

| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Leadership >


Jon Acuff

Jon Acuff

Jon Acuff is the Wall Street Journal best-selling author of Quitter and Stuff Christians Like. He speaks to businesses, colleges and nonprofits. He lives with his family in Nashville, TN.

See more articles by >


What say you? Leave a comment!

Blessing Mpofu — 11/14/12 1:03 am

waiting for a throng of people to deliver / ship is self defeating. by playing to the size of our heart and not the crowd you have control over how you deliver. you are not subject to the external you may not have control over. thanks jon for the reminder. appreciate it.

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I am a senior citizen who has lived in many areas of the US, the farthest south being Virginia DC area. There are several church plants in the area--some failed, some doing well. One of the sadist failures was a plant in NW Washington near a large Presbyterian Church (I had been an elder in the church, so I knew the area) where changes in church doctrine was driving many away from the PCUSA churches. There were many mature Christians who lived in the area who were very willing to participate and give generously to the church. Its failure was a loss. The pastor and his wife lived in a VA suburb, wanted something that would appeal to their tastes, which included "praise music". There was a professional piano teacher and several people who had sung in choirs in the area. Their suggestions were completely ignored. Forget that there was joyous participation in singing hymns and silence by many for the praise music. The experienced church leaders that were attending were expected to seek the wisdom of the pastor who did not live in the area rather than have any role in leadership. There is another church plant in Northern Virginia that seems to be going the same way. My take: the pastors should get past their high-school and college days culture and get to know and appreciate the people of the community. Do not try to reproduce Intervarsity or Campus Crusade. Hymns are not a sin and "uneducated" (never graduated from college) should not be ignored as uninformed or stupid. People who have served in and/or live in the area are needed in leadership and not just to serve coffee and give. We all need to pray together and serve God in the community in which there is to be a plant. Glenna Hendricks
— Glenna Hendricks
comment_post_ID); ?> I like it Mac and do agree with your opinions on the matter. Thanks much
— winston
comment_post_ID); ?> In this era, we have the opportunity of professional church staff today who utilize their gifting to shape the image and atmosphere of the church organization. But the 100% real impact on the church visitors is genuine evidence of changed lives by the gospel and the active growing discipleship (just as it was in the first century church). One demonstration is financially rich believers ministering equally together with poor believers (how odd, and incredibly miraculous; all humble and bow at the foot of the cross.). It is the awesome contrast of church members vocations, race, gender, age, maturity, gifting, humility that demonstrates to visitors "there is a Spirit in the place". That first-time guest list of 10 are "physical excuses", not spiritual excuses. Those don't tell the story. The condition of facilities and publicly greeting people have zero to do with it. The power of God in and through believers lives dedicated to impact other people with their relationship bridge-building of acceptance of the lost around them. Empowered believers are infectious, loving, helpful, giving, self-less, dynamic, compelling, bold, Christ-filled. As I have been in many church settings domestically and internationally, the facilities can be poor, and yet the fellowship can still be rich. We need to operate with first church humility. People come to Christ on His terms, not on our human abilities of hospitality. A huge catastrophe in a community, disaster relief brings lots of people into churches – many come to the church in those terrible conditions no matter the physical condition of the local church. Off the condition of facility, and onto the condition of God's people (living stones).... and everything else will grow.... and the other physical issues will be corrected by the staff.
— Russ Wright

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.