A friend recently emailed me a question that I’ve been asked so very many times that I think it’s time I write a rather thorough response to him -and he gave me permission to share all this with you here.:
“Glenn, How did you know you were called to do more than the vicious circle that I and a large portion of Christians seem to be stuck in: Work 5 to 6 days a week, church 2 or 3 times per week, eating and sleeping, sometimes witness or talk with others about God, but it just doesn’t seem to go beyond that. I feel like I’m not doing enough. Like I’m not making a difference. I don’t have a large vocabulary and have a fear of public speaking, but I feel like I should get involved in ministry somehow. At least part-time for a starter. I’d love to start a Christian rock band and take that route, Like what you did with REZ, but I don’t know if that’s where I can serve best. What do you think?”
My Bro.- Your core questions bring to mind two comments from Eric Liddell in the film “Chariots of Fire”: “When I run, I feel God’s pleasure”. At another point he said, “He made me fast”. He was a serious Christian, brilliant athlete but also died on the mission field as a missionary. He was fully convinced of his calling and sacrificed fully to live that call out.
A large part of the answer is truly about listening. Getting a sense of confirmation, an “I am sending you” to do whatever it may be, music or otherwise.
So how might we hear God’s confirmation of calling us to do x, y or z?
He speaks and confirms via His Word, prayer, via accountability with friends in leadership who will tell you the truth (either way…) and also in practicalities of doors opening or closing and lastly (and I do mean lastly because it’s easy to mess this up or have others mess it up for/with us) visions/dreams/signs-and-wonder stuff.
Perhaps one day I’ll write a short story detailing how God called me and regarding Rez Band from my own perspective. I don’t know why some people get the massive confirmations that I did before and after (literally in every area I just listed above) and why others do not. All I can say is in my own case, I suppose I needed them and they fell like rain. Still do at times. Ha, it happens to be raining outside as I write this! But onward to some of your fine points which I think are seriously worthy of response.
There are SO many hard realities in life. We must have food, water, clothing and shelter. Our spouse and kids, loved ones (if we are needed to help them out with these necessities) need them supplied as well. We must “render to Caesar” and money is mostly the stuff we must have to do this in the Western world. We can of course barter, co-op and do some deeper measure of community to help meet such basic needs, but in any case all this takes time and energy. This is WHY (survival, basic need-meeting) most folks, Christ-followers or not- end up disliking their day job. Or work two or even 3 jobs in order to pay the bills. For a musician, doing music full-time sounds a lot more fun and fulfilling and on the surface, more of a legitimate “ministry” as you mention. Well, yes and no. Track with me on this a bit more…
For a believer to show up in close fellowship with other believers and study the Word, pray, sing, confess faults, really interact in a local congregation, plus keep the bills paid and food on the table is often as much energy and ability as one can muster. This is all understandable to me and I don’t judge it or those in such a situation as I’d say it’s the same for most Christians on the planet. The fact some of us care enough about Jesus and people to verbally share and be sensitive to what sort of examples we bring others of our love and faith due to Him, well that’s even more amazing. I’d say few believers are as sensitive to that as we should be.
But LOTS of people feel they’re not doing enough, aren’t making all that much of a difference. Here’s where we need to be more thoughtful:
Feelings can be due to truth, lies, exaggeration, mental illness/body chemicals, a great or really imbalanced congregation/friends/fans… the Holy Spirit might be nudging us to get over ourselves and just serve in simple ways right where we are. Or it could be jealousy and envy. Could be we have either/and spiritual gifts or natural talents we’re burying because of the personal sacrifice in sharing them… could be any number of things.
It -could- be a case of fear and/or worries about freaking out our neighbors or moving out of status-quo Christianity.
Sometimes the “status quo” of whatever culture/community of peeps you’re in is what you seek to keep cool about. What I mean is that “normal” isn’t always satisfying and frankly, I am forever grateful the status quo of both the world and what sometimes typifies church isn’t the main voice in my head- nor my ball-and-chain so to speak.
What I mean is that the majority of people don’t want their boat rocked so to keep peace and shallow friendships we just trudge along. Nobody on our block thinks we’re bums (or they may) but at least they’re not really mad at us… so we maintain peace with others while losing peace in our own hearts about following Jesus and serving where He may be calling us.
Serving where He called me meant a LOT of folks thought I was crazy, self-indulgent and/or just an idiot. Many who would not consider themselves believers (and some who do) STILL think that, ha! So what. I am not God nor are they. Each of us truly WILL give account to God one day and I am SOOOOOO thankful He called me to link with other like-minded Christians who love in deed and not simply live a status-quo life on the sidelines.
To do a local congregation well, to start a band or worship team or whatever you need like-minded people, not only yourself, alone. So that’s part of how things opened up and have been confirmed in my own life and times.
Now- getting on the field means getting hit and hurt. That’s part of working with people, especially really hurting people… again, this is why I think a good many people -choose- to live a status-quo life.
Def. of “status-quo”? “The existing condition or state of affairs, as in We don’t want to admit more singers to the chorus; we like the status quo . This term, Latin for “state in which,” has been used in English since the early 1800s.”
Reminds me of “same-old, same-old” and “all change is perceived as loss”.
So sometimes we (or those around us) don’t want change and therefore we get stuck. Sometimes God doesn’t want change and we leap into what we ought not. Sometimes He is calling us to wait! Sometimes He’s wanting us to move out and go. There are risks and possible land-mines on all sides when you’re considering change, especially a huge change in your life, lifestyle, income, work schedule and relationship changes that will come as a result of doing nothing or actually getting into deeper waters of how you use most of your time each day.
Not all are great at public speaking or music or whatever. No worries! The Book says plainly that we don’t all have the same spiritual gifts. Cool! We need others and to work with others in serving. I’d say start (continue) where you are in small things and ask godly, wise folks for input on what you might otherwise do. Share your dreams but face the very real pains of living them out a bit before you take the big leap.
And bro., in your case, you ARE involved in a ministry (as are all Christians whether like yourself or not). You are on a worship team. You serve your family. That’s ministry. Don’t minimize what you already do!
On to your last points re. Christian rock band and Rez:
Part time as you say, is a GREAT way to get your feet wet. Pray, ask around and make sure you link with disciples in your local congregation or in your area, not merely talented people with an itch to do whatever, band or whatever it is. If I were you I’d ask your pastor and leadership if there are other ways you might serve in music, or if there are other areas they think you may be called/gifted to serve. It’s all about service, not so much what the actual area of service IS. “Let love make you serve one another”.
Maybe I’ll write a short book on how REZ Band came to be one day, but it would take more time and effort than I have at the moment. It was a deep conviction about need, a great deal of confirmation of my/our calling, immediate tests but also confirmations via leadership and amazing response to the Lord from our very first concerts. Not everyone gets all that stuff so I believe God in His grace wanted to write on my wall in the positive sense, likely in part because few were doing what we did in those days and He knew the flack we’d catch because of it.
Lastly, hobbies are not automatically great nor are they automatically sinful. But what you can do is take some of the time you give to hobbies/recreation and prayerfully consider a way you might serve God and others through that particular medium, again, be it music or otherwise. Too many folks focus on what they wish to do as a full-time gig that pays enough to let them do it. Some should indeed go for it. I can’t personally imagine how I could have supported myself, wife and kids over the years had I not been supported by my local congregation financially and in other areas. But prayerfully, creatively thinking about what you might do here and there each week or weekend may be a large part of the answer for you regarding serving others!
Hopefully I’ve provided you and others a bit of food for thought.
Let me know, Love and Hugs, -Glenn