Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Working the Dream, Deferred

"And the doubts crept in, as they do at night, mostly. When life is still, and there is nothing to drown them out. You hear them. And you embrace them as you would any reality."

I've wrestled with this whole music thing a long time. And my wrestling for the last decade or so has been over the will of God in my life. Sure, that's a whole contrived concept. For the atheist and humanist, it's naive. For the casual observer of faith, it's a wash. For the Christian, it could mean any variety of things.

Ministry has placed me many times having a conversation with someone about how they might discern what they should do with their life. You know, the classic career/passion/giftedness discussion that most people have with God, themselves, their families and close friends. Me, I've never totally settled that.

Ministry should have settled it. I love to speak, teach, lead worship, and organize ministries. I felt "called" into ministry, as much as a skeptical person like me can be said to be "called". I like to help people figure out little pieces of God, even as they help me. The problem is that writing and playing music is like a fire I can't put out. But I've never gotten any traction with it, at least not on my terms. Bands I was in split up; songs I recorded never got any traction at labels; connections never materialized. Even in Nashville, that stuff just isn't happening for me. Meanwhile, I've had three worship ministries, where I get to play music. For a living. And get paid. Shouldn't that have been enough?

Do you have something like that? Do you have a gift coupled with a dream that has been deferred?

Many people have something they'd like to do, but aren't good at, haven't worked at, etc. But do you have a talent that you'd like to use, but have been prevented from doing so? Do you have a passion backed up with a skill that has never been utilized? If so, how have you handled it? Our move to Nashville was me trying to "undefer" it, trying to make it happen. I'm not so sure that it's going to work out.

I'm a fan of music, but I'm also a fan of the history of music, the narrative. So, I like to hear stories about how people got into making music. Last year, I went to a songwriting conference where one of the speakers shared that he "just fell into" the music business. His band was decent, and had played some shows when they were approached by an A&R person to sign a contract. This eventually led him to being a producer and owning a studio. I'll be honest: it's hard to hear these stories for me. This person was a Christian, and as he's telling this story, I'm thinking two things: that God moved him where he wanted him, and that God has chosen not to move me into something I'd love.

Don't misunderstand: ministry has been good to our family. And I love it. I really do. So much so that I'm going to do it again, probably soon. So, if there's a prospective church that is reading this blog, understand that I would love to work at your church :)

But, I've met some people who have dreams and talents that have been deferred, and it was probably because God deferred them. So, here's my struggle: why does God give dreams and talents only to have people not use them, or use them in different ways than we desire? A friend of mine, a tremendous musician, preached for quite a while at a non-instrumental church. I couldn't quite understand that. I guess I still don't. How could something that is so important to you never be realized, never even be utilized?

I'm thinking that the deferred dream has actually been good for the work I've done in ministry, that what I learned in writing and recording songs has aided me in training up and leading musicians and singers in the church. Even the move to pursue it has made me appreciate the church work I've done a little more. After all, almost anybody can write a song, I suppose. But helping people in their walk with God, well...that's probably more important.