Ben, a 28 year old worship leader, is in the midst of some career decisions. He emailed me the following to me:
You seem to be actively employing several different gifts and passions. You’re sort of a hybrid preacher/producer/worshiper/blogger guy. You are living outside the box – and that’s exciting to me. As I dream of what my life and career could look like, my most satisfying career would look a lot like yours does now. However, I don’t really know how to get from where I am now to where I’d like to be. I wonder how it is that you’ve come to the place where you are now: leading worship, producing albums of your church’s original music, building up Christ’s worshipers both inside and outside your local church through preaching, blogging, etc.
I spent a few minutes thinking about the journey I’ve been on and tried to highlight some of the factors that brought me to what I’m doing today. My answers may seem more philosophical than practical, but if we don’t see the big picture of God’s will, we’ll have a harder time figuring out our part in it. I’d be happy to give specific illustrations if it would serve you.
Many times God was using my past to prepare me for what I do now, and I was completely unaware. Twelve years of piano lessons equipped me to play the piano and taught me to love music . Ripping songs off the radio taught me to play be ear. Involvement with choirs gave me a love for vocals. Writing songs for girls helped me put emotion into my songwriting. Auditioning for a band that eventually became GLAD gave me a platform for writing, speaking, and leading, as well as exposure to the Christian music industry. Hearing the gospel in the fall of 1972 (the most important event of all) changed my life eternally.
Seeking to be Faithful
I regret not having been more diligent in my life. But by God’s grace, I practiced the piano over four hours a day in college, spent hundreds of hours studying and memorizing the Bible, took time to care for people, and in general have tried to be faithful in the little things in light of Lk. 16:10. I’ve tried to maintain the perspective that it doesn’t matter how many people hear about me or know who I am. God is always watching and measuring my thoughts, words, and actions (Heb. 4:13).
Love for the Church
In the late 70s I saw that God’s primary instrument for accomplishing his will on earth is the church (Eph. 3:8-10; Mt. 16:18). So I left GLAD in 1984 to invest my time, gifts, and energy in the local church. I’ve learned that God intends function and gifts to be integrally related to relationships (Eph. 4:15-16). I’ve been committed to serving under and with pastors I respect and trust, and who faithfully preach the word of God and the gospel. The counsel, encouragement, correction, support, and care of my friends has been an invaluable means of grace to me. They’re the ones who suggested I start this blog and write a book.
God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble (1 Pet. 5:5). If I want to be exactly where God wants me to be, pursuing humility should be a constant activity. That means I should consistently find out what others think, be quick to listen when friends correct me, try to make others successful, and seek to have people think less of me than more of me. I’ve been greatly helped in this area by observing my dear friend, C.J. Mahaney. I highly recommend his book, Humility: True Greatness.
Love for the Gospel
Everything I do is connected to this one truth: Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners—and I’m one of them. That’s why I lead worship . That’s why I love my wife and children. That’s why I blog and wrote a book. That’s why I write and produce songs. I want more and more people to see that there is nothing and no one greater than Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the glorious Savior who gave his life on the cross to endure the wrath of God in our place so that we might be reconciled to God.
I’m amazed I get to do what I do. But hopefully I’d be just as happy being a doorkeeper (Ps. 84:10). If you’re not where you want to be yet, trust that God will be faithful to put you exactly where he wants you to be as you aim to “trust and obey,” glorify him with your gifts, and leave the results to him (Prov. 16:1; Prov. 3:5-8; Prov. 22:29).
There’s plenty more I could say, but feel free to follow up with any questions, or comments.
All that I can say is wow! Thank you for sharing this today.
I have been unemployed for about a month and have struggled with feelings of disappointment and discouragement, however I have also sensed God’s sovereign hand moving in the midst of these circumstances. I know that He has something good in store, this post is just another example of His faithfulness and letting me know that He is definitely in control and I am not forgotten!
Thanks Bob, for being faithful to the call that God has obviously placed on your life. I am one who is truly blessed by your ministry.
Great insight Bob…
I particularly appreciated the “Love for the Church” portion, as the author of your email and I are part of a generation of “angst filled youth” that tend to be the church’s critic rather than her champion.
I’m grateful that your role can’t be described in 3 words of less.
I love this last sentence.
“If you’re not where you want to be yet, trust that God will be faithful to put you exactly where he wants you to be as you aim to “trust and obey,” glorify him with your gifts, and leave the results to him”
This is the bottom line for me and my husband in our ministry. God is way smarter than any of us. He knows what’s best.
In addition to all those important things, you have also been unusually gifted by God for what he has called you to do!
Character, faithfulness and those other things matter, but so does the amount of gifting that God has given you in musical ability, discernment, and leadership.
I am grateful that God has given an uncommon amount of gifting to some people so that the rest of us might be blessed.
Thanks for your kind words, Eric. Still, I think we tend to underestimate what faithfulness in the little things, combined with deliberate practice can do.
I feel a lot of similar questions. There seems to be a disconnect between exciting dreams as a young follower of Christ and the reality of getting a job and being faithful everyday.
I tend to get dissatisfied, but remind myself of how blessed I am serving a local body of believers through worship and leadership.
Success as a worship leader does not equal a top CCLI hit. It equals what you’ve mentioned, Bob. Thanks for pointing us closer to Christ.
Many worship leaders are required to wear a lot of hats on any given week, and some may see it as a burden more than a gift. Bob simply does it on a grand scale – is that the draw here?
The key is saying “yes” to Jesus wherever he has us at the moment.
Amen. May be we faithful in the place God has put us.
Thank you for posting this. I, too, am at a crossroads. I just finished recording my first CD of my own music, and facilitate music for my church. I’m planning on leaving my full-time job as a teacher to pursue music and womens’ ministry more. I am contemplating many different options and it’s so good to be reminded (almost constantly) that God is in control of all of this!
Great post Bob, I think this speaks to a lot of people and I always appreciate your biblical response and encouragement. Also, I love the pop up scripture references. I read them all. What a great idea!! Where did you get that for your blog?
Nevermind, I answered my own question by clicking on the bottom right in the pop up box for the scriptures. Very cool.
A number of years ago I was stressed out, over-committed, and not sure where I should be focusing my energy. I cried out to God to show me where and how He wanted me to serve Him. He didn’t answer right away, or all at once, but as I look back I see He did answer my plea.
God has placed me where I am today, leading a worship team that leads one Sunday a month (the only all-hymn service) through a series of gradual steps as He opened doors and I stepped through (or was dragged through kicking and screaming :~). It all started 6 or 7 years ago when I did special music one Sunday and was asked to join the other musicians to play the hymns that Sunday. It has been an incredible journey. I have learned so much and my faith has been stretched as God has taken me out of my comfort zone. God has used this blog and events like the Christian Musicians Summit along the way. I can see how God prepared me for this role in both gifting and life experience. I keep trying to be faithful in what God puts before me and try to trust Him rather than hide in the baggage like King Saul because I don’t think I’m qualified.
Your blog has been very helpful to me. Thanks.
Would you consider sharing with us your thoughts over at http://expositorythoughts.wordpress.com/
NOTE: “Would you sing this song?” post…
I appreciate your biblical perspective on these matters.
I guess it’s time I stopped ‘lurking’ and posted something.
Bob, thanks for sharing the bigger picture of God’s dealings in your life. It’s so easy to focus on wanting a certain outcome or accomplishment in our lives, while losing sight that God deals with us on a long-term basis, weaving the threads of His purposes into the fabric of our lives and choices.
Bob, thank you for the post – and your heart for the ministry and equipping others! As I read your post, it was like looking in a mirror – each of the sections ring true in my life. Several years ago, I had the desire to go to seminary and enter full time ministry…I – not God. It really took me coming to an understanding that God wanted me to be faithful where HE had me…not where I wanted to go (basic humility). Now I have such a peace, sense of freedom, and contentment that truly comes from him. Blessings!