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.