This past week I had coffee with Joni, my good friend and wife of the Youth Pastor at our church here in Thailand. Her and I are quite similar in many ways, but through her friendship I’ve really gained some perspective on who I once was. Not so long ago.
Growing up in the church and with your parents being important people in the church and in ministry, it’s so easy to be fake. You have to. Or you think you have to. You think you have to pretend everything is great and perfect so they will think you’re a perfect PK, then you quote all the memory verses you learned in AWANA, and of course if you didn’t sing the hymns during church that meant that you were rebelling and so that wasn’t allowed either. I was so fake. I’ve really begun to see this more clearly just recently since coming to Thailand, because the fake-ness continued in college. And for that I must apologize.
I realized at a young age, 13 to be exact, that I was called to do ministry. I can’t really explain that call, but God definitely put it on my heart. That was also the same age I became involved in worship teams and being up in front of people. Our Youth Pastor always encouraged us as the band, that we especially needed to be right with God. I think for some reason that filtered to me with a translation saying “you need to be perfect. you can’t let people see your struggles. you can’t let anyone see your weakness”, though I know that’s not how it was intended to be.
I believe in college, those walls began to come down, but I really feel in some ways it got a bit worse at times. This is my confession as a former faker, and for that I believe I owe hundreds, maybe even thousands of people apologies.
Secular music listening was always looked down upon growing up, so when high school hit and all my friends listened to secular music, at first I thought THEY were the bad ones. Then I started listening to it and hiding it, like it was some huge sin I was hiding. I’m not condoning secular music, nor condemning it. It’s like Paul says in 1 Corinthians 6:12, “You say, ‘I am allowed to do anything’ – but not everything is good for you. And even though ‘I am allowed to do anything,’ I must not become a slave to anything”. What matters here to God is our hearts. Our hearts are easily drawn to things that seem to look pleasurable to the world, but we must always ask our own hearts if this will cause the eyes of our hearts to look elsewhere, and away from the LORD. I would apply this to other “grey” areas that seem to exist in the church today, such as alcohol, eating, hobbies, and anything else that takes up a significant amount of time in your day.
So, back to the faker I was. I think my walls began to come down around the time I went to India, and more around my Senior year at Simpson. So many Christians are just like me, like I was. It’s much easier to pretend like everything is just fine than face cleaning up the mess that you dump in front of everyone. These lessons have so much to do with worship leading for me, because in my mind, YES, as a worship leader you must always be even more sensitive the LORD’s voice, but that does not in any mean: 1) you are better than everyone else 2) you have no need to take extra Bible studies or 3) to be fake all the time because everyone is watching you.
I’m not sure what my ultimate point is, BUT after talking with Joni yesterday she encouraged me in several ways as I go on beyond GES to whatever is next. Because of the way I’ve been brought up, I need to recognize that my first instinct is almost always to serve, and not to be served in ministry. But as I’ve seen first hand here, if you have nothing to give, you end up much more dry than you were before, which leads often to confusion and burn out.
My prayer for the future is that I will be filled continually through God’s word, worship, fellowship, confession, and truth. So this is me, I am a former faker. But by God’s grace I will continue as I have learned and experienced here in Thailand, and be OPEN about who I am and the things God is doing in me and teaching me.