I grew up loving music! I loved being a part of band and choir all four years of high school – even after I started swimming competitively. Even in college, when I was sidelined from swimming for a season due to injury, I had the opportunity to join the Heinz Chapel Choir and it was the most incredible experience. The beauty of music is that it is with you for life! And I now have the great privilege of playing in our worship band at church. I play a solid acoustic guitar and can harmonize with the best of them. But every once in a while, our worship leader is out and I am asked to lead. It is in those moments that it becomes so absolutely clear to me that my calling in music is in the background.
We are each gifted in unique ways. But only when we are in the right space and place can we truly thrive. When I am in the background there is freedom. Because I’m not wrapped up in all of the things that come with being in charge, I can focus on the details – layering in my guitar and vocals – and do what I’m there to do – worship. When I am in the lead though, everything changes. What I’ve learned over time is that while I can play and sing, the center of my calling when it comes to music is in the background, not the forefront.
This made me think about how we can know when we’re in the center of our calling and how we can find it.
Care less about position; and more about passion. I think sometimes we get so caught up in striving for the next best thing that we lose sight of the beauty of exactly where we are. Are you knocking it out of the park in the classroom? Awesome! (and oh man, do we need you!) Serving as a campus leader and can’t imagine life without that daily connection with kids? Thank goodness! (we need you!) Are you killing it serving it as a #2, making everything and everyone around you better? Amen! (we need you!)
There is always benefit when we challenge ourselves to grow, but that growth doesn’t always have to result in changing our positions. Sometimes the center of your calling is exactly where you are!
Be curious enough to determine whether your discomfort is because you want to step forward or step back. There are other areas where my discomfort comes from not being in the lead. Some of my sweet friends were trying to plan a short road trip and they were taking care of ALL the details – and I could barely handle it. I even sent them some examples of past trip itineraries and offered my planning services (to which they were having none of).
Here’s the thing… We know. We know when that deep, still voice is telling us, pleading with us to take the step – when the dissonance between what you’re doing and what you’re wanting to do is palpable. That’s exactly how I ended up in the superintendency – because I knew I could not do what I wanted to do in the position I was in. The voice started as a soft whisper and increasingly became louder. We have to be brave enough to dig into those feelings and bold enough to take action when it’s time.
And sometimes we’ve stepped into something, and even after doing all the things – giving it time, getting ourselves equipped, surrounding ourselves with support – we realize that the thing that we once loved is now suffocating the joy right out of our lives. It is probably harder in these moments to be brave enough and bold enough to come face to face with those feelings, but face them we must.
I remember as a young college student and even as a young adult, being consumed with the notion of “finding God’s will” for my life. That’s a tall calling for a 19 yr old college student or even a 25 yr old young adult. But even now, those questions are ever-present. Yet the stakes to making a change now as adults is so much greater. But I wonder if taking clues in seasons where the dissonance so readily unveils where we’re outside the center of our calling can gently illuminate a path for us to find it again.
PS – To my incredibly loving (and gracious) church family, please know that I didn’t mean to start Away in the Manger five keys too low this past week… 😂