I am sure that we have all met people who seemed to have everything together. They seemed to have the perfect job, house, kids, marriage, etc. How many of these “perfect” people have you gotten to know and realized they are just like everybody else, barely holding it all together. I often think it must be tough to have to walk around being the picture of perfection. These are often the people who have the nervous breakdowns. They cannot keep up the facade. I feel that is often what happens to burn people out in the ministry. They just cant be perfect all the time. The truth is, everyone one of us comes with our fears, insecurities, compulsions, and baggage. I think the difference is what we do with them. Often people do not feel like they can make themselves vunerable to other people for fear of rejection or people gossiping about them, so they plant on the smile and go on about their day. I have long accepted that I am not perfect and never will be. I have accepted my weaknesses and my prayer is that God will use these to help someone else. It is such a freeing experience to be rid of other peoples expectations. The only person I am living for is God. The song “Perfect People” byNatalie Grant off her new album Relentless hit home with me the first time I heard it. The chorus especially. There’s no such thing as perfect people, there’s no such thing as the perfect life. So come as you are, broken and scarred, lift up your heart be amazed, be changed by a perfect God.”
Never let ’em see you when you’re breaking
Never let ’em see you when you fall
That’s how we live and that’s how we try
Tell the world you’ve got it all together
Never let them see what’s underneath
Cover it up with a crooked smile
But it only lasts for a little while
There’s no such thing as perfect people
There’s no such thing as a perfect life
So come as you are, broken and scared
Lift up your heart and be amazed
And be changed by a perfect God
Suddenly it’s like a weight is lifted
When you hear the words that you are loved
He knows where you are and where you’ve been
And you never have to go there again
Who lived and died to give new life
To heal our imperfections
So look up and see out let grace be enough
Last week my mother celebrated thirty years of teaching at Raleigh Christian Academy. It is an accomplishment that she has been in the same profession for thirty years but an even bigger accomplishment that she did it at the same school. I know that it hasn’t always been easy for her. I am sure there are times when the easy thing to do would have been to leave but she knew it was not the right thing. That is one lesson that I have learned from mother after all these years. The right thing is not always the easy thing.
When she took that job thirty years ago, she never dreamed that she would have such a great influence in so many different kids lives. Many of the students that she has taught over the years have gone on to be doctors, lawyers, businessmen/women, police officers, teachers, preachers, missionaries, youth pastors, musicians,and the list could go on and on. She started out teaching elementary and now teaches Honors and AP English. She even did a few years as an elementary principal, but realized that her place was in the classroom. She has been involved in the music program at the school and has spent many years as the pianist for the choir at school. She is a very gifted musician playing the piano, the organ, and the violin. She made sure that my brother and I were given opportunities to be involved in music. To this day, my brother and I both sing on Praise Teams at our different churches. While watching sports is not necessarily her cup of tea, she was at most of my basketball and softball games. Even when they were out of town. She may not have necessarily enjoyed them, but her kids were out there and so there she sat.
As a teenager, I always thought that my mother and I had nothing in common. Our personalities are very different, but the older I get, the more I realize how much like my mother I am. My love for books and music comes from my mother. My desire to not just have a job but have a career in which I can make an impact comes from mother. My mother instilled in me a job worth doing, is worth doing right. I can’t tell you how many times she made me do things over and over until it was right. I didn’t like it at the time, but as an adult, I am glad she did. She taught me to take responsibility for my actions, and not make excuses. Although she swore I was going to write a book on excuses some day. I could come up with them. I am sure there have been many days when she wondered what in the world she was going to do with me. I know I was not the easiest child in the world to deal with, and there were days when it seemed that all we did was butt heads. Believe it or not, I have a stubborn streak. I was more quiet about it than my brother though. He would just flat out dig his heels in about something, whereas I would say okay, and then go do what I wanted to do. I think we finally made a break through in our relationship when I became an adult and we were finally able to admit that we just didn’t understand each other. Since then, I have made more effort to understand her, and I know she has made more effort to understand me.
I think the most important thing that my mother has taught me is commitment. She has modeled this by her commitment to Raleigh Christian Academy for 30 years and this September, she will have been married to my father for 40 years. In this day and age, this is quite an accomplishment. I know it hasn’t always been easy for her and I am sure there were days she wanted to throw in the towel. The most important commitment that she has role modeled to me is her commitment to doing God’s will no matter what the costs may be. It is her commitment to God that has enabled her to be successful in the other areas of her life. Sometimes being a teacher can be a thankless job, but I am thankful for my mother and the influence that she has had on my life. I am confident that when she stands before the Lord at the end of her life she will hear “Well done my good and faithful servant.”
Okay….so I have a confession to make. Probably the biggest issue that I have to deal with on a daily basis is people. I am by nature an introvert and I am perfectly okay to be left alone. I can be extroverted when I need to be but sometimes it can be very draining for me. That is when I go into my introvert shell. Anyway, there is a person that I am really struggling with. Her attitude and negativity really get to me. She pouts when she does not get her way, and is often catered too by people in leadership positions. I have really had to pray this because I do not want my attitude to be affected. I know that my reaction is my responsibility. I have learned that when I have a conflict with someone, the best thing that I can do is pray. First I pray that God will change my attitude toward that person and then I pray that God will bless them. This is not always easy for me to do. I am a take you or leave you person. There is not much in between for me. I either like you or I don’t. This is one area that God has really had to do some major refining in my life. I do strive to see people the way that God sees them. When I give them over to God, then it is no longer me trying to fix them but God doing the work that needs to be done in both of our lives.
The subject of worship has been rolling around in my head for awhile. I just don’t think we really get it. I know for a long time I didn’t understand what it was or why it was so important. We were discussing this at choir practice last night. It is so hard sometimes, to get people to actually worship. How sad is the church today if we cannot get the average person to engage in worship to a Holy God who has saved us and sustains our life on a daily basis. Have we become that arrogant? Maybe it has to do with the fact that the average church person is bound up in all kinds of ways. Satan does not necessarily want Christians to turn their backs on God, but if he can get them bound up, then he can make them ineffective and that probably describes the average Christian in a church on Sunday. They are bound up in addictions, emotions, unhealthy relationships, wordliness, etc. That is why we cannot worship. It is from a heart that has been truly set free that we can worship. I think that often times we think this is how it is and this is how it always has to be, but that is just another lie from the pit of hell that keeps us from being all that we can be in Christ. I find that is refreshing to be able to go into church and worship with a group of believers. Afterall, we fight the world day in and day out, and it is something about being in the presence of other believers that makes us stronger to face what next will come our way. But the problem is, we can’t just wait until Sunday to worship. It has to be a lifestyle. Something that is practiced everyday. As a worship leader, whether it be on the platform, or in the choir loft, we cannot take others where we have not gone ourselves. This is something that has really hit home with me lately. The other thing is, I cannot make someone come with me. I can give them the opportunity to go into the presence of God but they will not go unless they want to. You cannot coerce people into it. Yeah, there are churches who work up people’s emotions and get an emotional response out of them, but when they walk out of the church doors, it is all over with. That is not true worship, that is entertainment. Again, an encounter with God is a life changing experience. Those who can worship and trust God when all hell breaks loose in their lives, have had an encounter with God. So many churches have become so “seeker friendly”, that we have lost our purpose. We are so afraid that we are going to offend somebody, so we play some music that makes them tap their feet, and give them a message that makes them feel good about themselves. What an injustice we are doing if we do this Sunday after Sunday. Again, the truth that God keeps bringing to me is that many who say “Lord, Lord” will not enter the kingdom of Heaven. They are banking their eternity on the fact that they prayed a prayer or that they go to church, or that they follow a moral code. There is going to be alot of good people in hell. It is our responsibility to make sure that this doesn’t happen. We have to teach people how to walk out their faith. That is why discipleship is so important.
What is worship to you? Is it more than just music? What does it involve? Just a few questions to help challenge us to be all that God has created us to be.