Yesterday evening at the Magic Club of which I am a member (available for charity shows locally) we had a lecture from Michael Vincent. It was a fascinating, inspiring and extremely enjoyable lecture. It was also quite profound. I’m not going to tell you what he said, that would not be fair to him as it would give away some of his secrets, but I was left with several impressions that I will share:
It is clear that Michael is someone who is striving for excellence in his magic. He is not satisfied with ‘adequate’. 8 out of 10 will not do.
He pays great attention to detail. Every move, every word, every look and every thought is considered and planned.
He is a great technician – clearly what we saw was the product of years of practice and benefited from him listening to (and being mentored by) others who had years of experience.
He enjoys what he does – even before he delights and audience he is delighted with what he is performing and how he is performing it.
He wants his audience to have a magical experience. The presentation of the illusions is as important (if not more important) than the technical skills. You need both but mere technical brilliance is not enough if your audience doesn’t find you engaging and want to go on a magical journey with you.
There’s so much more I could talk about but I am also trying to assimilate it for myself. But, reflecting on those things alone, there are lessons for followers of Jesus, not just magicians:
Strive for excellence. “Whatever you do, do it for the glory of God,” writes Paul to the church in Corinth. If God is GOD, then we should offer him our best. That applies to church activities, but it also applies to us as individuals – being the best free samples of Jesus that we can (as someone has blogged). The good news is that we also have God’s Spirit to help us in that process, it’s not something we have to try on our own. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but if you give of your best and consciously tell God that you are doing so as an act of worship then it is an act of worship.
Pay attention to detail. In my experience it’s not often big things that cause arguments in churches it’s little things that become inflated into big things. The colour of the carpets is not a big thing but if someone’s views are not listened to they can feel ignored and unloved and those feelings grow with more little things. How many people do ‘little things’ that go un-noticed and unappreciated? Pay attention to detail and thank people for the little things.
And, flipping it over, if we do the little things well often the bigger things fall into place: for example if someone wants to help with the sound desk, make sure that they receive training in how to do it.
And in our everyday life, pay attention to the little things that others do for us and appreciate them. If everyone appreciated others how much better would life be? Pay attention to the little things for others, like using their name (difficult for those who have problems remembering names, so if that’s you don’t try to bluff it, admit it and ask the person their name again and explain your weakness). It may seem trivial, but it makes a difference.
Practice. Living as a follower of Jesus won’t make any difference to your life if you only think about it when you attend church. Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life and have it to the full.” Does that sound like he meant that all you have to do is go to church services? Life is meant to be lived, and life in all its fullness is meant to be lived in all its fullness, which means we have to put what we believe into practice: In other words: loving one another; forgiving one another; serving one another; praying (talking with God); blessing one another. The more you put it into practice the opportunities God’s Spirit has to shape us and the more it will become second nature.
Enjoy it. I read an article which said that researchers have found that middle age is the unhappiest era in peoples’ lives. As someone who is in his forties (just) that could be worrying. But life is for living. Find satisfaction in things you do (especially if you do them to the best of your ability – see above), even little things (see above). Celebrate good things. Relish what is possible. Share what you enjoy with others (and if there’s nobody else with whom you can share it then tell God about it). In the act of sharing you reinforce to yourself the positive experience you had. I know that life can be tough. I know that sometimes the s**t hits the fan and sometimes you are in the vicinity and it hits you too. But rather than only focusing on the negative, seek to find positives to enjoy – that could be as simple as having an understanding friend on whom to offload or savouring a cup of coffee.
Think of others. You are not on a desert island (if you are, how on earth do you have an internet connection and why are you reading this instead of asking for help?) Others will be around you. How can you bless them, encourage them, support them, amuse them, strengthen them, and enhance them by what you do with them and for them? “Love God, love those around you” is a pretty good personal mission statement! And even if you feel alone then you aren’t – God’s still there and you can ‘perform’ for an audience of One.
So, thank you Michael Vincent for provoking these (and many other) thoughts. And it has also underlined for me my intention to apply to join the Magic Circle this year (there, I’ve gone public, I have to go for it now!) whilst applying those principles both to my life and my magic.
Be blessed, be a blessing.