Tag Archives: fame

What’s Your Song?

This morning, Alexa was kind enough to play some music for me. One of the songs in my get-ready-for-worship playlist is “The Stand” from Joel Houston of Hillsong. You’ll remember it:

I’ll stand with arms high and heart abandoned
In awe of the one who gave it all.
I’ll stand, my soul, Lord, to you surrendered.
All I have is yours.

The recording on my playlist is in a concert/worship setting, and toward the end, the singer/leader dropped out but encouraged the audience/worshippers to sing that chorus one more time. You could hear hundreds–maybe thousands–of voices singing as one, praying as one, worshipping as one. Cool stuff.

It occurred to me that it would be amazing to have a song that you’ve written or popularized that you could begin and then allow those listening to carry it for you. But then I realized that many artists can do that sort of thing. The Rolling Stones could do that with “Wild Horses.” It would be an intoxicating feeling, but perhaps hollow.

We know that for that experience to be more than just a good feeling, the song needs to be worthwhile. It needs to take people into the presence of God. That’s what I think I heard on that recording. And it’s something that I’m pretty sure I’ll never experience as the songwriters/singer/worship leader. (Sigh.)

In mulling over that bittersweet thought, I realized that every one of us is gifted by God to write such a song. More precisely, we’re called to do something that will powerfully bless others and help them draw closer to Jesus and to God the Father. My song isn’t a literal song with lyrics and melody. Yours probably isn’t either.

I’ve written some songs, and I’d love to be able to stand on a stage and lead people in singing them. That sounds great, but that’s not my calling, not my song. I could preach a good sermon, but that doesn’t seem to be my song either–at least not as a vocation.

What if I–or what if you–sat around lamenting that my songs don’t resonate with people in the way that, say, Michael W. Smith’s songs do? What if I couldn’t listen to sermons without wondering why I don’t get the chance to preach? If I allowed myself to get stuck in that way, I’d never create whatever alternate form of song that God has gifted me to fashion.

Paul addresses this thinking in 1 Corinthians 12:12-16

For just as the body is one and has many parts, and all the parts of that body, though many, are one body—so also is Christ…Indeed, the body is not one part but many.  If the foot should say, “Because I’m not a hand, I don’t belong to the body,” it is not for that reason any less a part of the body. 

What is your “song”? There’s something that you were created to do for the people (or the future people) of God that will be every bit as life-changing and amazing as having thousands of people singing your song by memory. It probably won’t be as dramatic, and it probably won’t engage thousands of people at the same moment, but it can be just as powerful.

But if I sit around listening to “The Stand” and pitying myself that my songwriting won’t rise to that level, then I’ll never write the “song” that only I can write.

The Most Famous Writer in the World–Mark 1:39

So he traveled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagoguesand driving out demons.

On this day after Christmas, I’d like to make a confession. I’m a writerly egomaniac. Sure, I churn out these little devotions with no real hope of a readership that extends beyond the single digits, but in my heart of hearts, I yearn to have the audience of J.K. Rowling and Michael Crichton combined. I want to be a household name, the sort of writer that, when he receives the Nobel Prize, evokes comments like, “But didn’t he already get that years ago?”

Perhaps I’m exaggerating here, but anyone who puts (electronic) pen to (digital) paper wants to have a decent audience to read those words. No musician wants to go unheard. No actor will be satisfied going unwatched, and no writer will want to be unread. The more readers, the better.

Shouldn’t that have been the case with Jesus? Shouldn’t he have hired a press agent and covered a lot more of the countryside? Shouldn’t he have avoided repeated visits to the same town and opted for the big cities rather than the hick towns of Galilee? I think the Judas character in Jesus Christ Superstar explored some of these ideas very well:

If you’d come today you could have reached a whole nation;
Israel in four b.c. had no mass communication.

Obviously Jesus didn’t have things very well thought out. He stayed in the backwater of Galilee and found himself repeatedly at Capernaum. If, as we read in yesterday’s verse, his whole purpose in coming was to preach to people, then he didn’t seem to work out that mission with a great deal of planning. Maybe if Jesus had only read The Purpose Driven Life.

But then Jesus knew exactly what he was doing. He knew where to preach and where not to. He visited exactly the right number of towns, exactly the right number of times. By saying this, I’m not simply uttering the platitudes of the faithful. I’m observing results. Sure, Jesus got less overall exposure than Kim Kardashian, his staying power–with a billion adherents two thousand years later–has proven very strong.

This is why, on the day after Christmas, when I examine my lack of Pulitzer prizes and my brief list of published books, I recognize that my fame might be exactly what it needs to be. Fame is not the measure of a disciple and a steward. Obedience is.