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Purpose – why I do what I do

January 4, 2008

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Here at the beginning of this new year I pause to think back on 2007 – the most exciting and demanding year we’ve ever known.  We celebrated the national release of “All The Lovely Losers” with Centricity records, the best label I could have ever hoped to partner with.  I was blessed to get consistently generous reviews and new opportunities that I was so grateful for – including sharing the stage with other artists I’ve always admired like Downhere, Phil Keaggy, Michael Card, and others.  With these opportunities come sacrifices like extended times away from family and friends, but God kept us and gave us what we needed.

I was recently asked by my record label to write a purpose statement – the reason why I do the work I do – for it to be shared at our label’s Christmas party.  The other artists were asked to do the same, and it was a great moment as we gathered for John, our director of A&R, to read through a handful of papers that represented our deepest desires, hopes, and fears in the form of personal stories of what we’d seen and experienced on the road.  For all of us our reason for doing music ministry always boiled down to our deep hope of doing some good, of being a help to others, of revealing an unseen King and Kingdom.  In truth, what John was really holding in his hands were our hearts.

There wasn’t a dry eye in the house, especially John’s, as he read story after story that revealed the hand of God so clearly working in and through our humble efforts.  I admit to often feeling alone in this work I do.  It’s often very solitary as I spend a great deal of time by myself in hotel rooms, in cars and airports, in my own room straining to hear whispers of what the next song should be. More often than not I’m discouraged and worried about the increasingly incongruous tensions between having a successful career and a worthwhile ministry (not to mention a happy family).  I’m left to fend off financial stress, insecurities, and my own personal demons, frankly feeling ill-equipped much of the time.  I often feel like I fight these battles alone, and sometimes the loneliness is the deepest wound of all.

But sitting there at the Christmas party as John and others on the Centricity staff were moved to tears by our stories, I realized that I’m less alone than I think.  Their tears over my story represented their investment in my ministry, and suddenly I realized that it’s our ministry, and that I’m less a part of a record business venture than I am a part of a greater ministry that has hopes of doing some good, of being a help to others, of revealing an unseen King and Kingdom.  There are others who are pulling for me and celebrate the little victories with me.  They are behind me, trying to get me into the rooms and situations where God meets with me and sometimes, by grace, meets with others through me of all people.

As I thought about it more, I began to feel selfish for thinking my stories were mine alone in the first place.  My best stories of God encounters on the road don’t solely belong to me, but also to all who have done some good to me when I was discouraged, been a help to me when I needed it, or helped me see a King and Kingdom when I had trouble seeing it for myself.  My stories belong to any and all who have invested in this ministry in some way – from those who pray or have helped meet our needs to those who took the trouble to buy a CD or come to a concert when you could have done almost anything else that night. In a word, these stories belong to you. 

Yes, YOU.  I know right now you think I’m not talking about you, but If you’re reading this, chances are good that you are invested, that for some reason you care, and I can’t tell you enough what that means to Taya and I. 

So thank you – yes YOU – and I hope you take any good stories from the road personally, because you have played a part in any good that has come from the work Taya and I do.  By God’s grace we’ll do more in 2008 and who knows what stories of His faithfulness lie waiting for us to uncover.  I’m grateful for your companionship in our journey.

I’ll post what I wrote for John for the Christmas party in a few days as well as some other thoughts about purpose through the month of January.  Thanks for reading!

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