(Photo by Natalia Y on Unsplash)

 

24 A dispute also arose among them, as to which of them was to be regarded as the greatest.25 And he said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those in authority over them are called benefactors. 26 But not so with you. Rather, let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves. 27 For who is the greater, one who reclines at table or one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at table? But I am among you as the one who serves. 28 “You are those who have stayed with me in my trials, 29 and I assign to you, as my Father assigned to me, a kingdom, 30 that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

Luke 22:24-30

 

Family and Friends,

I’ve successfully made it to Week 20 of my residency! Praise God for His faithfulness in keeping me and equipping me far beyond I could ever imagine. A lot has happened between my last blog post to now and for the better; the Lord has changed me significantly.

I’d like to use this post to share what the Lord has taught me through serving the local church within a Worship Intern/Resident context.

In the Marines, when you perform exceptionally and fulfill your responsibilities to the greatest extent – you’re going to be recognized. Typically, what it will look like is – the entire Platoon or Company will fall into formation and stand in a neat military fashion until the Company Commander calls on you. As you’re summoned, you will stand in front of the CO as he pins an award on your left breast pocket. Once the company is dismissed from this military ritual, you’re greeted by acknowledgements and praises from your peers. It leads to a sense of accomplishment of your own merit.

The ministry doesn’t necessarily work that way. In fact, serving the Church is quite the contrary.

Ever since I started following Jesus about 7 years ago, I’ve always considered it a joy to serve however I could. I’d never get tired of mopping the floors in the youth building nor would I ever become disillusioned with stacking chairs. However, serving as a Worship Resident at the Austin Stone Community Church has truly tested the way I go about my service.
For anyone serving in ministry whether as a preaching pastor, a worship pastor, to maybe as a service volunteer – there might be a tendency to elevate ourselves. The wretchedness of my sin shouts “Look at my ministry! Look at my image! Look at the successful ministry I’m a part of!” and I completely disregard how the Lord brought me here. What an abuser of Grace I am!

I’ll confess that I’ve grown tired of stacking chairs, tearing down lights, and coiling cables. For the first time in my walk with Jesus, I have not delighted in serving every day by those things. Whispers of the Enemy will tell me that since I’m not being recognized for it – why does it matter? I’ll never lead worship on a main stage during my residency; so why am I striving to serve this local church? It appears as though the natural state of man is to have self-centered worship.

Here’s where the tables turn. For those in Christ Jesus, the Holy Spirit in His infinite wisdom and mercy convicts us of our sin and leads us to repentance with the Word of God. As I wrestle with pride, the Lord has revealed two examples within the Scriptures that have always postured my heart rightly. The first example is in Luke 22:24-30 – where the disciples are gathered together just before Jesus is arrested by the Sanhedrin.
The disciples ask Jesus which among them would be the greatest. Jesus rebukes them and says that the greatest is the one who is the lowest. The leader is the one who serves and becomes as the youngest! (Luke 22:26).
Now this seems like a pretty easy rebuke for Jesus, I mean of course that’s what Jesus would say! However, when translated into today’s context, it could be said like this – “it’s those who stack chairs when no one is watching, those who coil cables after service, those who hold the door open, those who care for the Church and no one knows their name.” That’s who Jesus is referring to. Note that Jesus – the King of kings, Lord of lords, Master of the universe, Creator of Earth – was washing the disciples’ feet (John 13).

In addition to this, James 4:10 is another great example of posturing the heart where it should be – “Humble yourselves before the Lord and He will lift you up.” Now I’m not saying all these things to do the right things for the wrong reasons, but when rightly approached – I’ve always been led to repentance. The mere fact that I get to serve the Church in whatever capacity the Lord has given me is an incredible privilege! I pray that our service wouldn’t become self-centered but rather a reminder of how King Jesus first came not to be served but to serve (Matthew 20:28).

Side by side,

Jeremy Gonzalez

This past week was packed with a lot of anxiety (probably not the best word to use)- but less in a worrisome way and more of a helpful way. On Monday we had an oral assessment for MWDP (our theology and doctrine class). We were tested by an assessor over topics of the Humanity of Christ, Sin, the Work of Christ, the Work of the Holy Spirit, the Personhood of the Holy Spirit, and the Doctrines of the Atonement; (which include Expiation, Reconciliation, Substitution, Propitiation, Sacrifice, etc). A lot of the assessment is mock pastoring and counseling within a safe environment. The assessor will present real-life questions that the un-equipped believer may find hard to answer; such as “Well, I believe in God but I don’t believe the Holy Spirit is God as well. I don’t see that anywhere in the Bible.” Or perhaps “My best friend is gay and he’s the most loving and caring person I’ve ever known. He’s more generous than most Christians I know. I just don’t think I can believe in a God that would condemn my friend. Plus nowhere in the New Testament does Jesus condemn homosexuality.” 

Within my residency, I firmly believe this has been one of the most helpful equipping classes I’ve ever participated in. There seems to be a marriage between being equipped as a worship leader, whereas my musicianship is sharpened – and being equipped as a pastor, where my theology and counseling is honed. It’s been super super helpful!

Tuesday, we (worship residents) did our monthly Worship Leader Assessment Lab where we each lead a Christmas song after our call to worship. This was incredibly nerve-racking as it appeared every worship leader on staff at the Stone was listening to me lead worship. I also happened to be the first one to bat. There were so many things that I had to keep in mind – like the dynamics I was playing on my guitar, intentionally connecting two songs in the same key, singing on pitch with the melody, and finally leading a call to worship where the worship leader motivates the congregation with the Word of God.  Thankfully, I was told I had a great singing voice and presented great confidence when doing my call to worship. However, I also needed to work on playing the chords at the correct areas in the song. There are a lot of chord changes in Advent hymns and as a result, preparedness must be a necessity before you lead the Church in singing. All in all, this worship assessment was extremely beneficial as I recieved much needed feedback.

Thursday we held our last Worship Collective of the year. Worship Collective is an event where we host anyone that facilitates worship at any of our five campuses. We’ll worship, pray, eat, be encouraged, and cast vision together. Typically for a worship resident, preparing for a collective is filled with a variety of tidbit tasks like setting up lights, tables, getting groceries, or anything that’ll best serve our people.

 

** Worship Leader Assessment Lab: I led Come All Ye Faithful and transitioned into the chorus of You Can’t Be Praised Enough all in the Key of G.

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