Can you believe it? For some reason, I’m finding myself in our staff offices starting my second year of residency! There’s something difficult about trying to explain all that God has done in my life this past year. I can’t quite pick out my favorite parts per se, but I’d like to share the general theme of what God has taught me.
In one word, I can say the Lord has taught me about humility.
The Gospel wouldn’t be the Gospel or anything close to it’s radiance without Jesus personifying humility. Jesus Christ, God from God, Light from Light, descended from heaven to meet humanity. He invaded sin and darkness as a Servant King. Not once did He use His divinity to oppress or to conquer – but rather, it was in His pleasure to set free those enslaved to sin. Early in my residency, I didn’t think of humility nearly as much as I do now. I would see myself superior to others, not explicitly knowing it, but deep in my heart with my position or my theology. Over time, God began to reveal that sin hidden in my heart and gave me a distaste for it.
A weeks ago, I returned from Germany where I served on a short term mission trip. Germany was perhaps the peaked highlight of my year. It was a perfect way to finish my first year of residency. Our mission was to engage with Muslim refugees and bring the light of the Gospel where it wasn’t. In short, this trip snapped my prideful thoughts of how I saw God through the lens of my reformed theology. God shattered the walls of my comfortable Christianity. He put a ‘heart and hands’ to my knowledge-centric faith.
One of the ways God did this was the way He used a long term team member (missionary) already implanted in Germany. We had planned to do a night of worship but needed a couple guitars from his house. As we journeyed back, equipped with guitars this time, we waited at the vacant subway station. I then watched as he pulled out one of the guitars to sing “Waste it All” by Chris McClarney. Person by person, group by group, people began to show up – drawn toward the singing and guitar playing.
This man wasn’t worried about the mechanics of the order of salvation, doctrines of grace, church history, or to boost himself for that matter. His only motivation was that Jesus saved him and that was enough. He wasn’t singing to put himself to make a scene, but instead sang so Germans could hear of his devotion to his Master. Whole-heartedly and unashamed, he sang;
“I want to waste it all on You, I wanna pour out my heart’s perfume. . .
I don’t care if I’m called a fool, I’m wasting it all on You. . . “
Any worry of himself looking like a fool for Christ was discarded.
That night changed me.
That moment changed me.
That is a worship leader’s purpose, to point others to the person of Jesus.
In my first year, I’ve learned many practical skills as a resident. Things like video editing, marketing, web design, digital communications, how to run production for a service, the basics of graphic design, and the many complexities of leading worship – yet, none of those things could match what the Holy Spirit can do to a heart. This year, I pray for more of the Spirit’s teachings. I pray that when my time with Austin Stone Worship draws to a close, the Lord will have equipped me in ways I wouldn’t have ever imagined. I pray that God would have me serve with humility and honor – not for myself but because of the joy I’ve been given.
When I thought He would surely crush me or shatter my hopes (for a follower of Jesus, this isn’t Biblical theology or consistent with James 1:17), instead, he showered me with Gospel-driven friends/co-laborers, new learning experiences, and a great supervisor who will rebuke me in areas where I’ve needed to be corrected. What an incredible year!
So what’s next? What’s my plan beyond residency?
This year I’m beginning to prayerfully consider options for post-residency ministry appointments. As of right now, I’m still leaning toward worship pastorship. It’s uncertain where I’ll end up, but I’m still listening patiently for the Spirit’s leading.
Until then, there’s still much more development ahead of me. Here we go, second year!
Side by side,