By Pastor Ross Middleton (SouthCoast Church)
When I was in high school, I was the lead alto sax and clarinet player in a big band jazz band. A bunch of teenage kids in the ’90s playing music from the ’30s and ’40s doesn't exactly make you the coolest person in high school, but we had a little following...among the shuffle-boarding population.
Now to some people that may make me an uber nerd, and you’re probably right, but in my high school a celebrity that was known by tens of octogenarians in my hometown was enough to make me feel good. When people are complimenting you, telling you how good you are and how talented you are, it’s hard for your heart to not swell a little bit. It may have been mainly grannies, but let's be honest, even the young ladies like a man that can play an instrument. How do you think I actually managed to get married? I taught myself to play guitar — it was my only hope. But I digress.
The point is, the platform, the stage, the lights, the smoke machines, have this weird effect on the human heart. They make you feel more important, more mature and more significant — in a false sense. The stage is a place of false reality. Unfortunately, we have all heard one too many stories of the pastor or the worship leader that had a moral failure. The stage is deceptive because most of the time our gift catapults us far past where our character is.
For most of us, this is where we go wrong. We spend a lot of time focusing on "stewarding" our gift — which we should — but neglect "stewarding" our character.
You are who you are when you're by yourself. Don't forget that.
It's easy to look nice on a Sunday morning, have your vocals nailed down, your guitar part memorized. It takes WORK to make sure your character is actively growing past your gifts. When you’re by yourself, what do you set your eyes upon? What has apprehended your gaze? Do you daydream about stardom and being noticed on Sunday mornings? Do you long for the compliments you get after the service? Or are you simply rejoicing that you can bring an offering of praise to your King? Do you understand the incredible privilege you have in leading worship? Do you understand the actual miracle that it took — the resurrection — to even give you the opportunity to lead God's people in worship? Don't use the resurrection for your celebrity moment. I've found over the years that many of us who spend time on a platform confuse having a gift with spiritual maturity. If you have a gift to communicate or lead worship, that doesn't mean you are spiritually mature. It simply means God gave you a gift and you’re using it. It is OUR responsibility to make sure that we’re putting even more work into our character than our gift. If not, one day we will outrun our gift. Trust me, I've seen it happen time and time again — it's not fun. You aren't the one person who can manage to outrun your gift without the consequences. After thirteen years in ministry, I'm absolutely convinced that God is more concerned with who you're becoming than what you’re doing. Let's focus on who we're becoming and let God take care of what we’re doing and who we’re doing it in front of.