Originally written for the Septermber 2011 Newsletter of Westminster Presbyterian Church, Waterloo, IA as I embarked on a 2nd Interim period of service as their Choir Director.
When I was a young college graduate and began receiving invitations to lead music groups and programs — I experienced something that I believe is quite common with young people who are new to ministry. I felt that the output of the program was a reflection of me and my ability, and that it should therefore attain a certain musical standard — so that it might properly reflect on me.
Music ministry is not a perfect environment for such things. Ministry within the church is comprised of countless volunteers of various enthusiasm and skill. Ministry within the church is a “ya’ll come” type of program. While some churches have engaged “audition” types of procedures, I’ve always felt that the musical celebration of God’s grace should not be reserved only to those “properly” equipped.
What – after all – is the measure of “proper” within the musical church?
God’s desire is that we praise him. Such instruction does not carry a musical achievement criteria – but, it does carry a “do your best” obligation.
So, as musicians and musical leaders, it is our obligation to be responsible stewards of the resources that God entrusts to us. We are to use the time and talents provided – be grateful for them – and do the best that we can with them. Any artificial musical standard is only our own human desire to “prove” ourselves to others. Our obligation is to humbly submit ourselves to His service – and then “let go and let God” (achieve his work through us).
Ultimately when human ambition and ego is removed from the formula – God can achieve great things. If we – alternatively – set-out to achieve “great things,” we may receive worldly praise for our achievement, but find that our human desire for such recognition isolates us from the God we profess to adore.
Such humble submission is difficult – especially as a young, aspiring, and somewhat idealistic graduate. But, as I have matured in this path, I have come to realize that once we embrace this attitude of humble service and submission — then, all the worldly pressure is off. We need only to present ourselves as an available, responsible, and humble servant – and then let God achieve his work through us. The ministry is his – not ours — and the joy of serving his purpose is immeasurable.
This fall we engage again in the Music Ministry of Westminster Presbyterian Church. I invite each and every one of you to “humbly offer your talents in His service.”
This year we are blessed with a new Choir room, a budding and better-organized library (in the old Music office), and additional square footage (the old choir room) for the conduct and preparation of musical groups and events. We are to be grateful and responsible stewards. The “glory” be to God!
Come join the fun! Come join the ministry! Come Make a JOYFUL NOISE! The Church is the place for your talents, and this church has a place for yours!!
The Adult choir will first meet for the season on August 31st.