Tag Archives: worship

Guided Steps

Its funny how when we are willing to trust God with something only He could make work, He, in turn, does incredible things though our lives. My prayer over the past 8 1/2  years, since taking the position as Worship and Creative Arts Director at The River Church, has been “God, you gave this to me. Move me when you are ready.” Part of that prayer was because I came into the position by default. There was a need and I was the one who could step in.  The other part of my prayer was a bit selfish.  I was hoping God would give me a “heads up” so I could exit before the time came for a new leader to take my place.  With everything that is done for a long period of time, though, it is easy to get comfortable and used to life as you know it.

That was me, until this year.

For five years, I have been traveling to Haiti and working with orphans, special needs children and the elderly. My first year, I remember having all sorts of ideas of how I thought God would use me.  I was a worship leader so I assumed I would be led to lead all the songs and do everything “music related”. But He didn’t use me that way. I was introduced to the needy, the lonely, the broken and the outcast. He called me to hold hands with the discarded elderly, cradle the sick and to sit for hours sewing seats for walkers made for children with disabilities.  It was life changing for me. God used me in new and ordinary ways that were so unexpected and yet so beautiful.

Toward the end of our trip, one of the missionaries said, “Take what you love doing here in Haiti, and find a way to do it back home.” In other words, our ministry didn’t begin and end in a foreign country. We were called to minister everywhere we went. I had discovered a love for ministering to the elderly and special needs children but I didn’t know what to do with that new passion as it related to my everyday life.

When I returned from my fifth trip to Haiti this past March, I began to sense something was changing inside of me. That desire to do what I did in Haiti began to ignite and I wasn’t sure what to do with it. I loved what I did as a vocation, but something was pulling me in another direction.

I decided on a whim to do a search for nonprofit jobs.  Thats when I saw it. A job that would allow me to plan activities for the elderly in a local retirement community. I was still a bit hesitant, but sent my resume anyway.  In my first interview, I was overjoyed with the possibilities yet, at the same time, I was afraid. Afraid to leave something I knew and loved. Afraid of what people would think about this sudden change and afraid of the unknown.  I prayed over and over that God would guide me whether or not that was where He was calling me but I didn’t get a direct answer. That is, until my second visit, when I was called back for a second interview.

I walked back to my car and couldn’t help to be excited. I knew this was my next step. I would have the opportunity to love and to bring value and fun to those who were in their end stages of life.  What an amazing ministry laid before me!  I was offered the job later that day and accepted. I made the decision to follow the prompting from God and stepped down from my position at our church.

One of the statements I love to say to those new traveling to Haiti with me is this:

Lean into the uncomfortable.

Whenever I have leaned into things that are seemingly uncomfortable, I have always been blessed beyond measure. Starting very soon, I will be doing just that.  I am excited, nervous and expectant.

I am ready for this new bend in the road and trusting God to guide my steps into this new adventure.

The Voices in Our Head

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A while back, I had an experience that you might be able to relate to.

We had just finished our church service with worship and communion.  As the music team was slowly unplugging and turning off their equipment, we felt encouraged by how God had used us.  Just as I was turning to one of our vocalists to thank him for singing, a visibly angry woman approached the stage.  With pierced eyes, she sternly said, “Kim, I need to talk to you.” Realizing that I was being lead into a potentially unpleasant conversation, I came down off the stage and walked to a corner of the room. What I experienced for the next ten minutes was an onslaught of hurtful accusations and emotionally charged characterizations of who she believed me to be.

I left that conversation, shaken and confused.  I knew what was spoken to me was not truth and even more so, not a word from God as she had claimed, but I couldn’t help hanging onto the names and accusations that were put on me.  I wrestled with it all week and though I was so very thankful for the leadership that stepped in and the prayers from family and friends, I still had a difficult time not replaying the one sided conversation over and over. The next Sunday, I found myself struggling as I was trying to lead the worship service again. Was I really the person this woman thought I was? Do I really have the characteristics she claimed I did?

Whether you are a music director, pastor or a volunteer, you most certainly know what its like to fight the voices you hear in your head that negatively impact your ministry.

So what do we do? How do we affectively battle against them?  I believe these three simple, yet immensely important, actions can radically change how we handle those internal voices.

Know WHO you are

Its always important to filter what is said about us.  When someone accuses us of being something we know not to be true of our character,  we need to dismiss it right away. The process to do so can be difficult, but the longer we dwell on false labels that are put are on us, the more we will struggle with keeping them. Its also very important to ask those who work with us or those in leadership above us for feedback. If there truly is something in our lives that needs to be worked on, we must willing ask the hard questions and receive the potentially hard answers.

Know WHOSE you are

Dig into scripture and remind yourself of who you are in Christ. The book of Ephesians is a great place to start. Remind yourself you are chosen (1:4), you are a child of God (1:5), you are redeemed (1:8) and you were made for a purpose (2:10).  The Enemy would like nothing better than to try to take away your identity in Christ. When we remind ourselves who we are because of Jesus, we put those lies to rest.

Remember You are CALLED

Paul wrote in Ephesians 4:1 that we should “live a life worthy of the calling you have received.” We each have a calling on our lives. Your specific calling may look different from mine, but we are all to be a light in the darkness. I heard it once said that God does not call the equipped, He equips the called. When facing a challenge, we can ask why it’s happening TO us, or we can embrace it and decide that it might be FOR us and grow through it.  Ask God to use the hurt you may be experiencing to strengthen your ministry and the mission He has equipped you for.

Words are powerful, but when we embrace these three simple truths we will have the tools to overcome the internal voices that threaten to discredit us.  Don’t allow the words of others to define you, allow GOD to. Live out your ministry in the light of “the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant” and who will “equip you with everything good that you may do His will.” (Hebrews 13:20,21 ESV)

Caring for your Volunteers: VALUE

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Some time ago, I heard a worship leader recount a confrontation that he had with a team member who was serving in his music ministry. He said that the volunteer, who played bass in the band, would routinely show up late or, at times, not show up at all. The worship leader decided he needed to have a conversation with him and perhaps gently let him go from his obligation to the team. As they sat down, the first thing the worship leader relayed to the young musician was why he was an important part of the team. When he showed up late, or didn’t show up at all, the entire team suffered. They depended on him to be a part of what made the dynamic of the band not only function, but succeed. He sat in silence for a minute or so, soaking in the words he had just heard, and finally spoke.

 

“I had no idea that I was valuable to the team. I didn’t know that I mattered.”

 

A conversation meant to confront and ultimately ask this team member to step down, turned instantly around. The worship leader encouraged him and, in turn, saw a repentant heart and change of attitude.

It’s easy to take people in our ministries for granted when we serve with them week after week. Even when we do simple things, such as bringing in donuts on a Sunday or passing out Christmas cards, we are drawing attention to the fact that our team members matter. If asked though, most people would say that our words of encouragement mean much more to them then a gift card or cookie.  When we take note of what our team members are doing and let them know they make a difference, we are confirming their value to the over all dynamic of our ministries.

 

Here are a few reasons why valuing individuals is so important:

They will want to do their best

In a study based on over 1700 employees, a survey found that ”more than 90 percent of workers who reported feeling valued said that they are motivated to do their best at work …”( http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/2165-valued-work-quitting.html). No one wants to think that his or her sacrifice of time and preparation isn’t important. If you want your ministry to run smoother and your volunteers to put forward their best effort, let them know that their work counts.

 

 They buy into the vision

Team members need to know they are playing an important role in the overall vision of our church. They are not just changing light settings or passing out programs, they are creating a warm environment that helps people feel welcomed and accepted. When they run the slides for the songs, they are allowing people to participate in the music. Without their efforts, the vision of the team falls short. When we tell people why they are valuable to the vision of our ministries, they will want to keep it going!

 

They get others onboard

What’s the best way to grow your ministry team? You grow through your volunteers. Valued people who have bought into a vision will want others to join them!  Pleas for help and announcements in the bulletin won’t bring in volunteers the way that passionate team members will.

 

Bringing value to our team begins with the simple act of letting individuals know they matter. It doesn’t have to be expensive and it doesn’t even have to take lots of time, it just needs to be authentic.

It can take all different forms, but ultimately we want each person in our ministry to know what they do makes a difference, is incredibly important and is helping the vision God has given to our church continue to thrive.

 

 

Wonderfully Made

“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;

your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”

Psalm 139:14

As a worship team leader, my focus has always been (and should continue to be) on praising God for who He is. Its the reason I, and the rest of the band, sacrifice sleep on Saturday and Sunday mornings, take time out of our crazy weeks to practice and get ready and even the motivation to continue to grow in our skills. With all that, there is another reason to give God glory that may not always be on our radar and it sometimes doesn’t even come natural. That reason is praising Him for who He made US.

The Bible says that He knit us together in our mother’s womb. He saw our unformed body and already had a plan for our lives.He put in each of us specific talents and abilities He wants to use. Nothing went unnoticed. Yet, especially when in a visible ministry, we can have the habit of comparing our “gifts” with the “gifts” of others. A musician might wish he could sing or the vocalist might wish she had the skills to pick out an electric guitar solo. Beyond music, maybe its the “people skills” that your co-worker possesses that doesn’t come naturally to you.   Or the eye for photography that your friend has when you are unable to even turn on a camera.   It doesn’t matter the comparison, its all out of focus. We should be looking at the talents each has been given and praise God that he or she is using it to glorify God! Even more so, we should take time to thank Him for the calling He has on each of our lives! You each are unique and made just the way God wanted you to be knit together. He didn’t mess up, or forget anything. You were fearfully and wonderfully made in His image in order that He may be glorified by YOU. You can make a difference just by being the amazing person God created you to be.  Don’t let the world miss out by hiding your gifts or thinking they are not “good” enough. Trust God with them and He will do unreal things in your life!