I read this article many years ago and it made an impact on me and how I looked at others who have helped me as a minister and as a musician. I have shared this story many times, as a devotional and as an illustration in my Music Appreciation classes.
Before organs were powered by electric blowers as they are today, they were powered by a boy who would pump the bellows behind the stage. He would pump behind the scenes so that the organist could play out front. One day when an organ concert was being given, everything seemed to be going just right. The organ master was at the peak of his ability, the auditorium was filled to capacity, and the audience was extremely responsive and appreciative of the concert. At intermission they gave a thundering round of applause and ovation. The people were thrilled by the music and blessed by all that they had heard. The organist stood and faced the audience an then took a bow that acknowledged the audiences great appreciation. As he walked off stage to get some rest during the intermission, his pride and ego were as full as they could be. When he reached backstage, he was received with congratulations from all those around him. And then from behind the curtain came a freckled, little face full of sweat and grime. With a satisfied and excited smile, the bellow-pumper asked the organ master, “How are we doing?” The proud organist looked at the sweaty little boy and said with a tone of arrogance and contempt, “What do you mean ‘how are we doing’? I am doing fine!”
The little boy was crushed by that statement for he thought of himself as a partner with the great organist. Granted, he was behind the scenes, but never-the-less a partner, working hard to provide the air that made it possible for the organist to play the magnificent instrument.
When intermission was over, the organ master walked back on stage to the applause of the people. He sat down at the organ, draped the tails of his tuxedo over the bench, raised his hands in the air (pausing for dramatic effect), and then brought his fingers down to the keys. But the only sound that was heard throughout the auditorium was the sound of flesh on ivory. Nothing came from the organ at all. The organ master was dismayed. The audience sat in shock. Then everyone saw a red-headed, freckled face little boy stick his head out from behind the curtain and ask the organ master, “How are we doing now mister” How are we doing?”
How many times have you felt on top of the world … ready to go forward… just to find out that the wind in your sails has died and you feel totally alone? Many times those feelings come because we begin to take ourselves too seriously and God not seriously enough. We begin to believe our own press reports. We begin to respond to the flattery of those around us and take credit for our own success. And soon the God who showed us grace and who promised us untold blessings, begins to take a secondary role in our lives; we start to rely on our own strengths to get the task done.
Not only do we forget God, but we also forget all the people that God has put in our lives to love, support, pray, and believe in us: the people who have stood behind the scenes in our lives encouraging, building, pumping air into our bellows. These people, by pumping air into our bellows, also helped us achieve the level of success or blessing that we have. Yet we forget them, as we forget God. We need to remember that the second greatest gift that God has given us is each other. Make it a goal this year to acknowledge God in all of your endeavors and to show the betterment of your life. How long has it been since you let somebody special know just how special they are to you? Renew a right relationship with Jesus …a relationship where you acknowledge to yourself and to others that it is by the grace of God that you are who you are and are becoming all that you can become.
Are you a bellow pumper? Do you provide support, encouragement and love to those around you? Know that you are appreciated and loved. It is just as important to be a bellows pumper as it is to acknowledge those who have and do support you. Receive and be a blessing to others.
Ephesians 2:8-10:For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.