A few weeks ago, in a morning minyan, I saw a gabbai offer hagbah (the honour of lifting the Torah and displaying it to the community after the public Torah reading) to someone near me in shul. He did what I think of as the "Hagbah Shrug", telegraphing in a simple gesture: I don't really want to do this, but I'll do it if you have no one else.
It bothered me.
On one hand, we are taught to humbly refuse honours; see Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 53:16, for example, encouraging limited refusal of a request to lead the davening, unless invited by someone of great status. Shunning the spotlight isn't a bad thing; it's a function of humility and of tzniut (privacy).
But on the other hand, refusal strikes me as arrogant, and insulting to the Torah itself. It feels like an expression of indifference. Rav Moshe Sternbuch (Teshuvos v'Hanhagos 2:319) reports that on Simchas Torah, Rav Chaim Brisker would not give away the Torah he was holding at the end of a hakafah, unless someone requested the Torah. This reflects love and respect for the Torah. So what is the message reflected by shrugging, "I'll do it if I must"?
And consider the impact on the next generation. Our teens are already practiced in demonstrating cool disregard for society's honours; it's a natural part of growing up. Do we need to add incentive by showing that everyone does it?
[Not to mention what this does to the poor gabbai; see my 2009 post, Not Me is alive and well in Gabbailand.]
I would suggest an intermediate reaction, displaying respect as well as humility. Perhaps, something along the lines of, "I am honoured to be asked, but I wouldn't mind if someone more worthy would receive it." And if you really don't want to do it, then, "I'm sorry to decline, but I'd really prefer not to, today."
Am I just being hypersensitive?