I’m pretty sure when I wrote that title the only thing going through my mind was “Wow, that’s a lot of do’s in a title”. Then again, I couldn’t think of a less wordy way of saying it, so there’s that.
I went to a conference in Dallas last week, and spent some time hanging out with my best friend from college and with some leadership from my technology team as well. Like many worship pastors, I wanted to get away, to refresh and reframe my outlook as well as do some long-term planning. It was a good time of self-reflection that brought up some interesting questions for me to ponder…as Jerod’s wife, Jennifer can attest to, if you put the two of us together (Jerod and I), it makes for laughter, long nights, and deep discussions that challenge both of us. There was one question that kept coming to me, whether it was in a discussion about my personal life, fostering, my marriage, or my ministry:
Why do you do what you do?
Why do I do what I do? It made me think and evaluate all angles of that question? Does my philosophy in worship ministry happen because it is what God has placed inside of me, and empowered me to do, or because it is popular, easy, or perhaps unpopular or difficult? Do I function in marriage the way I do out of my own selfish ambition or desires or out of a desire to grow closer to my wife and to grow together in our faith? Is parenting an extension of the love God has placed within me, or a necessary evil based on our own life choices? And then fostering as an addition to all of that…is it done because we feel called to do it, or because we feel like we have started something and have to accomplish our “goal” of adopting as well?
All of these thoughts (good and bad) were rattling in my mind as we went to an evening session on Tuesday night. One of the groups that was leading worship that night was All Sons and Daughters with One Sonic Society. Being familiar with their work, and loving the raw, authenticity with which they write, I was looking forward to hearing and singing with them again. A few songs into their time, I realized one of their songs quietly answered the questions I had wrestled with during the week.
The song is called “You Have Called Me Higher”. Powerfully simple, the song describes the heartbeat of the reason to go the extra mile, the calling to continue to learn, to not count anyone out. Here’s a few tidbits of what it means in my life, and why I do what I do.
I could just sit
I could just sit and wait for all Your goodness
Hope to feel Your presence
And I could just stay
I could just stay right where I am
and hope to feel You
Hope to feel something again
Have you ever been there? When you feel like you are playing the waiting game, wishing and hoping and praying that something will change while you think you are completely sinking in the quicksand? I have, and am, and will be in the future. My wife would probably tell you that our bed is made of quicksand, because I don’t want to get out of it in the morning, and she would be right. Yet, simply waiting without any action, or hoping without any momentum will leaving you right where you are. The greatest times of repentance, of redemption, and of growth in my life have been the times I stepped out knowing God desired my faith and obedience.
And I could hold on
I could hold on to who I am and never let You
Change me from the inside
And I could be safe
I could be safe here in Your arms
and never leave home
Never let these walls down
If the people around me truly knew how much this paragraph embodied the feelings of failure, insecurity, and defeat I battle with, and my desire to just shut down, they would probably throw me out with the bath water. Actually, I’m pretty sure my closest friends do, and they love me in spite of it. It’s amazing to me how natural it is for me to think if I just close everything else out, things will be better. But that inner voice of love (shout out to my Nouwen friends) keeps reminding me to share my insecurities with Him, to let go of the shackles, to break down the walls. And the chorus to this song explains exactly why.
You have called me higher
You have called me deeper
And I’ll go where You lead me Lord
Where You lead me
Where You lead me Lord
Ultimately, for all the words I can and will continue to share about ministry, for all the stories I will tell about the joys and struggles of fostering, It is done because I know I’ve been called to follow. I’ve been called to hurt deeper than I believe I can bear, to love when I am not loved in return, to teach when the ones I teach think it is crazy, and to minister to anyone and everyone, no matter what shape, race, gender, or class. I don’t do this because it is noble, because it right, or because I want to look good.
I do it because I am called. Higher. Deeper. Where I am led.
Why Do You Do What You Do?