Darlene Zschech, the noted worship leader for Hillsong Church in Sydney Australia, tells a memorable story about a gentleman who encountered one of her worship leaders, Steve McPherson, at the airport. She relates how the man excitedly informed Steve that he was a great singer, that he was going to start coming to Hillsong Church, and how he would be an awesome addition to their team.
Steve affirmed the man’s enthusiasm by inviting him to attend the music rehearsal the following Wednesday evening so that he could audition for the Hillsong choir. As Darlene relates it, “The man put up his hand and said, ‘No, you don’t understand. I am a very, very anointed singer.'” Again, Steve affirmed the man, saying, “Fantastic! come along and audition for the choir.” The man never showed, because he could not accept the reality that his advanced singing skills would not be showcased on Sunday mornings. (Extravagant Worship, p. 153)
Truth #1: Each of us is gifted by God for works in his kingdom, but it is critical to understand that the gift of God is to be employed for his glory, and never our own.
Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. (1 Peter 4:11 – NASB)
If my service in the kingdom is bringing attention to me, then I am somehow coming at it the wrong way. The greatest service in the kingdom happens unnoticed, but it happens! The glory is God’s alone, though we speak of his working among in us, among us, and through us. He is, and the glory is his alone.
Truth #2: The gift within me is not my ability to sit passively, Sunday after Sunday, and be spoon-fed.
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10 – NASB)
The term for “workmanship” is the word from which we derive our word, “poem.” A poem is labored over, meticulously, word after word, until it is perfect in terminology, cadence, flow – it is a work of verbal artistry. So it is with you. You and I are a masterpieces, created by the same God who created the mountains in their majesty, the waving fields of grain, and who hung the stars in the sky. And he gave such attention to your creation with the intent that we would walk in the good works for which we were created. Put your gift to work.
In my own church family, I think of a precious woman who, at eighty-two years of age, who directs a prayer ministry for prodigals who need to return to the Lord. Another dear sister, at seventy-three, runs a ministry to single expecting mothers and mothers with newborns who are struggling to hold their lives together. A disabled gentleman, who is severely limited, serves through running the lyric slides for the singing. He studies and rehearses the slides, taking his service as seriously as the pastor who delivers the sermons. Myriad other examples exist, but these make the point. Put your gift to work for the kingdom.
Truth #3: I am God’s masterpiece, and God’s friend, not God’s tool.
Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants , for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. (John 15:13-15 – ESV)
Jesus laid his life down for you and for me, his friends. Abraham was called the friend of God (James 2:23). The Lord spoke to Moses face to face as a man speaks with his friend (Exodus 33:11). Enoch walked with God, and so tight was that relationship that Enoch never died. God just took him home. (Genesis 5:24)
Over the past couple of days, I have been helping my daughter and son-in-law change the break shoes, pads, and a couple of leaky cylinders on one of their cars. It has been a big job, and to accomplish it, I have employed a number of tools – various types of pliers, hammers, a vice, penetrating oil, wrenches, and more. I use them, because they are tools, not friends. I cringe when I hear people speak of being “used by God,” as though they are some sort of rake or shovel that God is “using” to accomplish some kingdom purpose. We are not mere cogs in the “God machine” mindlessly whirling away. We are gifted masterpieces – God’s friends.”
Victoriously in Christ!
Over to you: How do you employ the gift of God for his glory rather than to be seen and applauded by humanity?