I've debated about tossing this out into the fray, but it's a growing reality in my life, and I have a feeling that it's not unique to me; others of you I'm sure have faced the same issue.
Throughout my life I've served the church in just about every capacity you could name: janitor, Sunday school teacher, youth leader, fill-in preacher, board member (and chairman), building committee - the list goes on. I could do all those things, but I wasn't passionate about them. But then I discovered that the one thing I was passionate about was worship leading, and when I hit my 40's I thought I had finally found the one thing I do best in the Kingdom - leading worship. So I funnelled my energies into that, and to some degree found a measure of success...until recently.
In the past couple of years it is like God has slowly closed the doors on these opportunties and they just will not open. Instead, He has been opening a new direction. Basically I've felt the call to work with the poor and needy around the world using my skills in the areas of building, mechanics, teaching and communicating (through my writing). I am responding to that call, and for reference sake, you can read about it here: Mercy Tech Mission.
I'm excited about where this is taking me, but I wonder at times - was the certainty I felt about worship leading as my specific gifting a misguided thing? What's this about the callings of God being irrevocable? Has anyone else gone through this drastic change in focus thing?
Your thoughts would be most welcome.
We are here for only a short time. It's up to God, not us, to determine how we are used for His glory.
And it doesn't always make sense to us. For the longest time I couldn't seem to get my worship songs heard (despite having one published), or rise above the quiet 'church pianist' level. Now in the last 2-3 years I not only have a church home where I am expected to sing in worship, but they have encouraged my writing, with 3-4 original songs in our Praise team list. But I know my ultimate goal is not to hang onto what God has provided, but to train and equip others to help lead and take over eventually.
It may be just a different season for you now. You might be affecting more people's lives long-term by building than leading worship...
Rick, God, places adesire on our hearts and we usually mess around trying to find where we belong or where our fit is. As we "do something" or as long as we "do something" God directs our path. We learn new things and we grow, both strong and hopefully wiser. You start in one place - sometimes at a church then you move on in positions / jobs/ churches, serving the best you can. Eventually you wind up in a different place/ church or ministry and you find it's a perfect fit for you for this next change. Also, God stretches us when we get too comfortable; I think we then get used to relying on our own strength too easierly.
It is crazy , I can tell you, as it happens to me over my many years in and out of the church. But, with the different facets that have shaped you, you can give back so much more than you did 5, 10 or more years ago. Look at the wisdom you have shown here in this forum. You have helped many with your input. That all came from your obediance to the Lords' call on your life. God doesn't change but we do, in God and in our Spiritual walk. I bet ( if I were a betting man ) you are so much stronger in your abilities and determination, than you were before all this.
I believe, it is our job to train up our replacements so, we can move onto more specialised roles. It is time for us to move out of the Aquarium and get back to being fisherman/ women.
Perhaps that's why God put it on my heart in the past couple of years to do so much training of younger worship leaders - He knew they would have to take my place. And I don't doubt that they'll surpass me.
Yes, I know (as Bet Nich pointed out) that it's up to God to direct us in service for His glory. But sometimes you wonder, "Why can't I be like the guy who knows who he is and does it for life?" But coming from a long line of 'Jack of all trades' type of people, I shouldn't be surprised. :) Thanks for the comments.
On a side note, I just told the church staffer in charge of music that I'll be away for months at a time in the coming year, so they'll need to find a new worship leader for the team...you could say there was a sharp intake of breath when that reality sunk in, but not much I can do about it.
Yeah, what about the callings of God being irrevocable? Where's it say that ??? :-)
I led a worship band from 1994-2003, and have been writing some worship songs since then. But in mid 2008,. I had a root canal that set off a case of trigeminal neuralgia (face pain). It comes and goes, but it has left me in the position where I cannot commit to a worship band any more because I never know when I will become totally unable to sing (and when I'm in pain, I shouldn't be up there on stage even as a bass player or something). There are some treatment things that may still help (up to and including neurosurgery), but I just feel like my days for doing music in front of a congregation are about over.
But in the time since I "retired" as a worship leader, I've gotten very involved with the missions construction work teams at our church, to the point where it doesn't bother me at all if the team won't be home on Sunday. We've been supporting and working for a church down in Agua Prieta Mexico that is about 10x as "alive" as our own church, and helping to build a stage down there may be a more valuable service than standing on one up here.
Keep in mind that "worship leading" is not one of the spiritual gifts - it is an activity which draws on a combination of a number of different gifts, and as time goes by, God may call us to use our gifts in different ways, emphasizing different gifts as well. My worship leading was very strong on "organization," and I'm just using that gift in different ways now.
Romans 11:29 "for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable."
But I suspect that the context would be worth studying here. Charles, you have a good point in that worship leading is really a combination of a few different gifts, and not a stated "gift" in itself. I'm sure the things I've learned while leading music teams will prove invaluable in the years ahead, no matter what I'm doing.
Ah, no living on past glories allowed. God delights in doing a new thing...even with old dogs!
Man, this is tough. I've learned this though....your identity does not come from a title. Titles are fleeting. I pray for clarity in you life so that you will 'knnow that you know'. blessings
Started to cry when I read this Elman.....Rick I say "amen" to Elman's prayer for clarity in your call bro.
Ole' dogs..new tricks?...some dogs don't even do tricks. They eat, sleep, eat, sleep....
Keep your chops up, don't ignore the gift that He has placed in you. It ain't over till it's over =) ><>
RE clarity in my call...this morning I was starting to get some heavy doubts, like "What in the world am I doing? Am I really supposed to be leaving my family in less than a month to travel halfway around the world and do...what?"
Then I opened my Bible to continue my reading, and currently I'm in Matthew...right at the point where Jesus reminds the Pharisees that "a house divided against itself cannot stand." It was God's reminder to me that my heart needs to be committed to HIs current leading and to stop wavering back and forth.
Just yesterday, two seperate individuals told me that they are planning to support my work financially...that was a great encouragement from the Lord.
No, John, I won't ignore the music gift; I'm sure that there will be ways and places to use it still, even if it's not the main focus. Thanks.
Kind of like retiring at the top of your game and not at the bottom?
Well, one can hope that's true. There's also the possibility that if someone continues too long in a ministry they might lose their edge in it...or maybe God knows that the next level you might have attained to would have been the level where you couldn't handle it. Pride is a sneaky thing. Best for me not to dwell on those thoughts too long, as there really is no answer. It's like getting lost in the "what ifs".
But I do know that nothing we learn along the way in life's journey is lost; God can redeem anything.
The calling of God is irrevocable. The specific in which you serve God is as vulnerable to change as anything else in life. You're free! If it's the right thing to do, do it. This new direction sounds great -- it adds to your life the purposes you have sung about for so long, but were prevented from doing because you were restricted to a carpeted platform.
God didn't tell Abraham that part of His purpose for him was to go to the point of blood-sacrificing Isaac, his only son. Nor did he likely tell John Bunyan that his greatest work would be done in prison. A thousand young pianists and horn players and violinists had no idea that one day they would become world-famous conductors -- never to play their instruments again, except for personal pleasure.
At one time, music by itself was everything. Then I found myself irritated with the gumby little narrations in choir cantatas, so I dramatized them, first just a few lines, but they grew until now I write dramas with musical interludes. The preacher and teacher God placed in me have been so frustrated, pent up behind a keyboard. I never imagined what joy and sense of purpose I find in simply writing words to encourage other brothers and sisters, or in essays (which in High School I had little taste for, but on the Internet there are no red marks).
Who knows? Perhaps when you come to Bongo Bongo Station each year, the people will be waiting for new songs from Rick, the guy who knows how to fix microphones and amps so they actually work. And the work God has for you may evolve into a fuller and richer thing, partly because of the years you spent as a music minister.