So this week I have been listing to a book on CD called "Saying it Well" by Charles (Chuck) Swindoll. He is an amazing speaker. If you have never heard any of his sermons, I would highly recommend listening to a few. I once heard him say in one of his interviews that he likes to ask Children after his sermons what they understood him to say. If they couldn't remember anything he didn't feel like he did a good job. He tried to preach so that anyone, including children, could understand without dumbing down what he was saying.
Anyway, I wanted to "read" (my wife wouldn't consider this reading a book) his book because of his style, but also because I respect who he is and what he does. I wanted to see if he had anything for me. If somewhere in the midst of this book I could find something that would help me be who God wanted me to be.
The whole first CD is him explaining some of his past and talking about how be became to be a pastor. He walked through different events in his life describing how God had placed them in his life to help him in his "calling." At the end of the first CD he ends with saying to the effect of, "Before you continue with this book, you need to figure out what your calling is. Without knowing your calling the rest of what I have to say will do very little to help you." That is when it hit me. I don't really know what my calling is right now.
I am sure I have probably mentioned it before that when I was a freshman in college God called me to music ministry. He asked me to do something, at that time, I had no interest in doing. I wasn't a good musician. I didn't know much about music. I had quit band half way through high school, because I was terrible and didn't want to practice. It wasn't part of who I was. That is when I learned that God doesn't call the qualified, he qualifies the called. He taught me so much in those next few years and used music to bring friends into my life that have really shaped how I see God and what I believe it looks like to really worship God. It was a time I will always count as blessed, where I got to work with some truly AMAZING musicians. The musicians are probably the best I will ever play with.
It was during that time of learning that I had the opportunity to work with a few teens. They were great. I developed some really strong relationships with some of them. It was then that I realize another reason God wanted me to learn to love music and it was because I was able to teach a group of musicians to play together and give them the opportunity to worship together and lead others in worship. After about a year of working with them, I felt like God was calling me to pursue youth ministry. Marcey had always had a passion for teens so that made things easy. We were finally on the same page and working towards a goal together. After six months or so of this I finally found a church. (Just wanted to mention that after I left I went back to see that band of teens play and they are amazing. They kept going even after I left and have done some really cool things including winning a couple contests.)
I was hired on as a youth pastor and stayed there for close to 15 months. Again, I was able to use my music to really reach teens and work with them on learning what it looks like to play as a group and really worship God in music. I had a lot of fun with so many of them, but unfortunately, as with most ministries, they come with challenges. I let too many things get in the way of me, my family, and my relationship with God. I was working close to 80 hours a week between, the church, a full time job, and the schooling it required. I didn't have much left of me for me, let alone God or my family. It was a hard, but an experience I will never forget. I had to leave that environment though. I wasn't able to continue at the pace I was going and still be who God wanted me to be. I had let too many things get in the way of the calling.
We left. I was hurt. I was broken. I felt like a failure. I no longer felt like I had a calling.
It has been a little over a year now since then and things are better, but as I was listening to that CD this morning, I realize I didn't know what my calling was anymore. I love music. I love teaching people to worship. I love leading people in worship. I love to worship. I love playing with great musicians. I love teens and investing in their lives although now I realize how much that actually takes. I love getting to know people and investing in their lives. I like my job. I like how I get to do something I like to do and never dread going to work. I like that I can take time to write my blog and that I have had a lot of time to read, think, and share what God is doing in my life. Yet....Yet, I still don't feel like I know what God is calling me to. I feel so discouraged sometime and wonder if He is making it so that I am not comfortable where I am.
So...I sit here today thinking...What is my calling? What is it that God wants me to do? to be?
I have to admit...its somewhat discouraging to not know.