Heros Always Sing Tenor

Name one musical play, popular artist, or singing group in which the male lead sings bass.

Come on. I’m waiting.

Yeah, there are some well known songs that just wouldn’t fly unless they were sung by a bass. “You’re a mean one Mister Grinch,” sung by Thurl Ravenscroft,  just wouldn’t be, well, mean if it were sung by a tenor. Tennessee Ernie Ford’s Sixteen Tons, has a bold and desperate feel that only a solid bass voice can deliver. But, even more predictable than a Hallmark movie is that the male crooner in a musical performance will be a tenor.

A few years ago, someone suggested that I needed to pattern my life around the ideal church leader, someone who is loving, caring, and friendly. Essentially, I was told that I was deficient until I could sing tenor instead of bass.

Your Special – Not

In April 2017, Kurt Francom of LeadingLDS did an interview Jason Hewlitt. Jason is a corporate speaker whose schtick is principally built around the theme that “you have some special skill or talent.” It is a nice idea that would be at home as a caption to one of those 1990 motivation posters collecting dust in a forgotten hallway. While it may have some truth to it, from a practical perspective some of us are just normal.

In the business world, we are called generalists; adequate at a broad range of stuff. But, like potholes in a road, some of our normal is interrupted by deficiencies rather by than elevated by exceptionalism. Unfortunately, the potholes get noticed.

(Audience) “Boo! We want to feel good about ourselves.”

Sorry, that’s what you get for listening to a grump. But, let me finish.

Fame and Self

So, if we can’t sing tenor, what hope do we have of becoming famous? Well, none. If our expectation in life is to be remarkable at something, we are likely to be continually disappointed. But, is that the right perspective? Should we only be satisfied if we are famous for something?

In the words of Paul:

Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. (NIV 1 Cor 9:25)

Fame dries up as beauty, ability, or novelty diminish. So, what training is Paul speaking of that results in a lasting crown?

Paul’s continues:

I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize. (NIV 1 Cor 9:27)

Instead of fame, notoriety, and physical ability, maybe our goal should be set on self-mastery, personal improvement, being a better me than I was before.

Hooray for The Normal

You could say that getting better and better at less and less only makes us incompetent at more and more. A generalist approach would then allow for a richer life experience. So, maybe being normal is okay.

Now, let me pull Jason Hewlitt out from under the bus.

In practical terms, Jason is not suggesting that we go on stage to exhibit our oddities like he does, instead he suggests that we recognize that we do have some uniqueness that we need to recognize and employ. So, rather than strive for that which we don’t have, maybe we can build on what we do.

In other words, if you can’t sing tenor, at least sing and do your best, even if you are only in the chorus.

Do you ever feel like you have to emulate the ideal member in order to feel valued at church?


Now, get off my lawn.

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