Rolling back the stone
Many of you know I lead worship for a small group — a weekly Bible study & worship & hangin’ out group that meets in someone’s home. I play guitar and sing. I play only fair-to-middlin’, and am a lot more confident in my voice than I am in my guitar playing.
Last year, and earlier this year, the leaders of those two groups to which I was assigned were the epitome of Laid-Back Leaders… just going with the flow, “it’s all good” kind of guys, pretty much just letting me do my thing, untouched and uncommented-upon, apart from an occasional nugget of encouragement. The last month? Not so much. Doug, who is very dear to my heart, is also an exacting leader, always looking for the way up and the way on, for the group, for himself, and for the worship leader. 🙂 I find this both very compelling and very terrifying. I don’t really relish being inspected and found wanting. Yet… I truly want to grow and do better and learn and participate in what the Holy Spirit is doing, and specifically to be unified with Doug as he leads the group.
After last week’s group, he said, rather casually, and in front of a couple of people, “Hey, we need to talk. I’d like to know how you think worship is going.” We chatted a bit, and I told him that really, what I thought didn’t matter all that much, because my perspective on myself can be skewed, and as he’s the leader, I’m a lot more interested in what he thinks, rather than in self-evaluation. We made a plan to talk before the next week’s meeting.
In the intervening days, I became increasingly uneasy. What could he want to talk about? I’ve been leading worship regularly for… four years now, I think, and if I’m lacking in anything, I don’t know if I have the ability to step it up! What if he requires something out of me that I’m unable to do? He probably will. I’ll just have to tell him that my skill is not all that great and I just can’t do it, whatever “it” is.
Then came Sunday.
Sunday morning’s message from my pastor, Dennis Bourns, centered on the story of Lazarus’ ressurection. Frankly, I don’t recall exactly what the aim of his sermon was — I think it was about how Jesus cares, in spite of how circumstances may appear, and his apparently slow timing (I should listen to the message again!!). However, what the Holy Spirit spoke to me through it was this: Let’s roll back the stone and call to life the things that are dead! For me, this was specifically related to my impending convo with Doug. If he was going to call things out of me, to call me further up and further in, even if those things were dead, I was going to willingly participate in the process. I was reminded of the power of Jesus, who calls things that are not as if they were, and who calls the dead to life, in all manner of functions.
So, Doug telephoned on Wednesday. Instead of my “I just can’t do it” preamble, I encouraged him to call whatever in me that was dead, to life. He said something like, “Well, in that case… everything you’re doing is wrong, and nothing is working…”
He was joking.
Perhaps all my agonizing and my peremptory speech was unnecessary, because everything that he addressed — five things — were more functional than skill-based. More like, “How about shorter intros to the songs?” and… “When we’re coming out of ministry and about to enter snack time, maybe ramp up the tempo of your playing a bit so that we’re not heading in to snack time on such a low and introspective note.” That sort of thing. Everything he mentioned, I could totally do. Well, one thing is a bit of a stretch, but not much. Very do-able.
So, all that trepidation for nothing.
Well, not nothing. I think God wanted to bring me to a place where I was confident in His ability to create something from nothing, in me…
I feel like I passed a test. Not with flying colors, not with 100%, but definitely a pass, and not a fail.
Ten years ago, maybe even five, I’m pretty certain I would have flipped out, sunk into a depression, responded with defensiveness, despaired, perhaps lashed out at Doug… By the grace of God, I did none of that. I’m not all that thrilled with growing old, but growing more mature is definitely good.