At first I thought I would be proud. That changed quickly. As the 2004 Super Bowl approached I was frustrated and even embarrassed. We were excited at first because the University of Houston’s marching band was selected along with Texas Southern University to be a part of the halftime show featuring Janet Jackson. I was a freshman Music Ed. student marching in the drumline at UH and we were stoked! The drumline would end up on parts of the main stage during Jackson’s “Rhythm Nation.” I even have a VHS copy of the show where you can pick me out amongst the tenor line by my trademark “jaw drop” that always happened when I was focused and intense.
What was the big deal then? What started as an amazing, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity quickly became a nightmare of hectic schedules, dealing with MTV’s less-than-competent leadership through the show design (my critique is both harsh and true), and little to no recognition or involvement with the artists. Overall, this was a super letdown! It is not that we were expecting hugs and kisses from Janet, but we were pretty put off that there was never a rehearsal with her except for the one time at the Pasadena Convention Center where she quietly peaked through the door and promptly turned around. We could smell the disaster ahead that would prove our hours and hours of effort as meaningless other than for publicity and interesting stories to talk about each February.
There were also some highlights! I was able to witness some rather iconic people as the celebrations approached, enjoyed some tasty (free) food, and had a big-screen view of the game from our reserved seats next door in the Astrodome. While it was an interesting experience and it is probably a good thing that it happened, I also see the opportunity to learn from mistakes. I was on the field when the disastrous “wardrobe malfunction” between Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake took place, prompting surprise from most everyone, yet I would not say that it was anything short of a premeditated part of the show. Obviously someone learned from their mistake of hiring MTV to coordinate the show because they were not brought back the next year. I also hope that our starstruck staff saw that the mistake was in letting hundreds of students waste time and effort for very little return.
Here is what I am getting at for this UNcommon Perspective. When it comes to a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that may be exhilarating, it is better to ask questions before giving a response. One of my favorite questions I borrow from Andy Stanley is, What’s the wise thing to do? Wisdom may be framed by learning from past experiences, and especially past mistakes. What made my experience with the 2004 Super Bowl worth it is I have learned to consider whether or not the time and effort given will really produce good fruit. Since that unique experience I have been able to consider many unique opportunities, learning to say “yes” or “no” based on the questions I take the time to ask. Can you imagine how much different our lives would be lived were we to take time for wisdom and questions before making decisions? Some might think this indecisive, others may call it overly dramatic, but I find this UNcommon Perspective liberating!
Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise, but as wise, making the most of every opportunity (Ephesians 5:15-16a). I want to be found guilty of making good use of my time, and that means that I have a great deal of learning and living to do. So I am going to take the time to ask questions before giving a response. I will learn from my mistakes. I will make the most of each opportunity, living a life that is liberated from needless pressure and low results. Ready? Set? Start asking questions!