Let me tell you about my day yesterday – so many fruitful and fun things happened!
Here at U of M we have a tradition where the Sunday before Halloween every year we put on a concert – the musicians all dress up and we parade in to the concert hall and we play fun music, student conductors conduct and do silly skits, and we basically just have a blast! The public is encouraged to come dressed in costumes and it’s a very kid-friendly concert and atmosphere…unlike our typical classical performances where we are very formal, strict, and everyone under the age of 12 ends up using the performance as a nap time haha
This happened yesterday afternoon!
Another thing that happened yesterday that was totally new for me, but also very uplifting and soul-feeding was that I had the opportunity to play with the praise band at church. I’m classically trained…started out with an egg carton and a pencil and transitioned into suzuki and constant squeaks and railroad noises, straight up to Jr. Strings, Youth Orchestra, School orchestra, and now college where I’m studying violin concertos, solo pieces, and etudes, etc. Praise band, improvisation, and that entire realm of the music world is completely foreign to me. Needless to say, I was WAY out of my comfort zone. Despite this though, it ended up being so much fun and it was such a wonderful way to worship the Lord.
It occurred to me yesterday evening as I was reflecting on the day that I somehow managed to miss a vital aspect of the beauty around me. And that vital aspect is this:
Yesterday, between the hours of 8am and 8pm I somehow managed to perform classical church hymns, praise/worship/rock tunes, pieces like Stravinsky, Rossini, and also a vacuum cleaner concerto and Ghost Busters, etc. I think that in those 12 hours I covered practically ever genre. What a beautiful thing – to see all those opportunities surrounding me, to feel enveloped in them (even the foreign, more uncomfortable ones) and to feel growth so present and taking the center stage of my life.
I felt proud. Just for a few moments, I felt proud. I was proud of myself for reaching outside my teeny tiny zone of comfort. I was proud of myself for juggling all those commitments within one day. But after my momentary glimpse of pride, I mostly felt humbled. Look at what the Lord is doing in my life – He is present! He is moving! He is providing for me constantly, despite all the times I’ve failed Him and will continue to fail Him. I am practically at a loss for words when I reflect on all the blessings that are multiplying before my eyes.
And that brings me to another point. God used the sermon that our Pastor gave yesterday morning to truly speak to me.
Here’s the thing. I want to be vulnerable and honest here: I have been feeling so frustrated with certain aspects regarding school, orchestra specifically. I have been feeling left out, less than good enough, and beat down for a variety of reasons that I won’t go into detail about. But I’ve been feeling very defeated and I took on a pretty bad attitude regarding it all – I’ve been grumpy and whiny and not acting in ways that I want to in order to reflect my true values and my true character. Complaining is human nature, but it doesn’t have to be our go-to coping mechanism.
I even met with our orchestra conductor and tried to articulate my thoughts/feelings but I didn’t even know what to say or how to accurately depict my thoughts/feelings on the matter. So it felt like a bust.
There I am, sitting at the back row of church after playing with the praise band – after feeling God present in that place, hearing the congregation sing, feeling the chords, the music, the lyrics move through my body and reach deep down into my heart…it’s always the most refreshing feeling after a week of dirt, grime, and drudgery (which is what most of this semester has felt like, to be honest).
Pastor Mark gave a sermon on Leadership. What a coincidence. At first I was thinking, “Okay, okay. Yes I know all of this.” People have always told me that I’m a good leader…a good example, etc. I’ve lead orchestras, choirs, musicals, etc before in my life. I’ve earned leadership positions and had to be a role model since a very young age. But then as Pastor Mark started listing out 10 characteristics of a Godly Leader, I was struck with the reality that:
I am not the leader I want to be, can be, and should be.
I’m capable of being a leader in the way the world defines a leader. But I have so, SO far to go in order to be the leader that GOD is calling me to be. The questions of leadership mentioned in the sermon yesterday are outlined with these 10 questions:
1. Do they (you) prayerfully walk with God?
2. Do they (you) view leadership as humility and service?
3. Do they (you) believe in shared ministry?
4. Are they (you) able to inspire, equip, and enable others?
5. Do they (you) care about people?
6. Are they (you) examples of Godly character and behavior?
7. Are they (you) willing to do the right thing even if it’s unpopular?
8. Are they (you) known for their study, application, and teaching of scripture?
9. Can they (you) endure hard times and suffering?
10. What is their (your) attitude toward money?
These questions struck me and left me thinking about the type of leader I have been and how to become the type of leader that I long to be. I immediately recalled the moment in my meeting with my orchestra conductor where I asked him, “How can I be a leader despite my frustrations and position?” and his answer was simply to do the right things and set a good example. At the time, I wasn’t satisfied with his answer. I felt as though I was already doing that. And to a certain extent, I am – I show up on time, prepared, and (95% of the time am) attentive during rehearsals. There’s not much more that I can do, or so I thought.
Going back a few weeks, the sermon given at church was about sharing our stories – if we claim to be Christian but the people around us don’t know that we’re Christian based on our actions and words and the way we’re living our lives then something is seriously wrong. I can’t be a good leader if I’m not leading with the right intentions. Leaders who lead simply to power their way to the top and gain control always end up falling flat on their face. Leaders who gain attention in order to promote their own work, beliefs, ideas, etc won’t be leaders that anyone wants to listen to or give up their time too.
People won’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.
So how can I be a better leader where I am in my life, right here, right now?
I can love others with a Godly love – extend grace, mercy, forgiveness, compassion, kindness, etc every single day…no matter what kind of day I’ve had or what kind of day they’ve had – there is always room for love.
I can live my life as an example of integrity – if I’m gonna talk the talk, I sure as heck better walk the walk too. You can’t successfully have one without the other.
One key part of being a leader, and one aspect that is often times skimmed over and missed – or just simply ignored altogether, is the aspect of forming discipleship. If I want to be a leader than I have to be willing to help others become leaders too. I have to encourage, build up, set examples, teach, help others grow, live my life honestly and vulnerably. I have to understand that some people are built specifically for certain leadership positions – I may not be one of them all the time and that’s okay. But I can still encourage those who are built by God to lead in certain ways to pursue those passions and dreams.
It’s not enough to simply know the way. If you know the way, you better go the way so that you can show others the way.
Life is NOT a competition. No one is remembered for being at the top constantly. It’s true that people won’t remember the things you’ve said, but they’ll remember the ways you made them feel. So lead with compassion – with Godly love, life, and humility.
Being a leader is both a blessing and a burden at times, but if God has called us to lead than He will undoubtedly equip us with the skills to do so successfully.
Christian leadership can be done in the church, in missions, but also in your workplace, in your school, in your home, out in public. The mission field is jam packed with sources and ways to lead – if anything, lead by example. Live with integrity. Remember: God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called.
God changes the world with people like you and like me.
These past few weeks (this semester, in general) has been super tough. Academics, requirements, obligations, schedules, grades, etc you name it – have all been kicking my butt and wearing me down. I’ve felt so frustrated at times, stuck, and confused. Satan has a way of knowing how to kick us right where it hurts the most. But despite all this, when I take the time to pause and look around – my life is packed full of blessings. My cup is overflowing – new friends, finally a new church that is beginning to feel like home, opportunities to grow spiritually, emotionally, musically, etc, classes and academics that are challenging me and growing me, an angel sent by God to do life right by my side, supportive parents and friends, and many hidden opportunities to be a leader and disciple for Christ.
Our lives are mission fields and we can all be leaders. Take up your cross, friends. Live, lead, and love by example.
You can hear Pastor Mark’s full sermon on leadership by following this link:
You can also check out sermons from past weeks at Trinity EPC and I would invite you to check back in for future sermons as well! They’re posted online each week! Enjoy!
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
“To accept grace is to accept the vow to give it.”
Happy Halloween from us!!