They say most independent businesses fail within three years. I’m so happy to say that, as of today, we’ve officially avoided becoming a statistic. It was three years ago, today, that I packed up my office at the church where I’d been serving as youth and worship pastor for 5 years and turned in my keys. I’d had a growing sense for a few months that God was calling me into some new kind of ministry, and while I believed that meant a different position within the same church, it became increasingly clear that that wasn’t the case. So, I stepped out into the unknown and found myself working as an independent musician.
“Broomtree” had been recorded the previous summer, and while many people around me sensed I’d be taking this step, I was one of the last ones to catch on. My intention was never to do this very long. My thought was to book a few concerts to help pay the bills while we sought out a position at another church. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that 3 years, 100,000 kilometres, another album, and over 150 concerts later I’d still be doing this. And while I’ve continued to remain open to the possibility of serving in a church again, I have to admit, this life has grown on me. If you ask me, I’ll probably tell you that this all happened quite by accident.
Looking back, it’s easier to see God’s leading and provision at work in my ministry than it often is in the midst of it. I’ve wondered many, many times over the years as I stared at an empty calendar whether we’d reached the end of our run. But although we’ve had to tighten our belts sometimes and learn to live a little more simply, we’ve always managed to pay the bills and keep food on the table. So today, I feel a renewed sense of hope and optimism for the future. There are rumours of some new partnerships developing that would help us to grow this ministry and take it a step further, but even if those don’t pan out (they haven’t in the past), I feel freer to continue to pursue my calling, and somewhat less inclined to seek out security and stability.
I’m so thankful for the many, many people who’ve encouraged us, the people who’ve bought CD’s or come to a concert, the churches who’ve hosted, and the many folks who’ve put us up for the night. It’s been such a joy to see so much of our country and to visit so many fine folks.
If there’s anything I’ve learned over the past three years, it’s that security and stability is an illusion. Having a job an a pension will not protect you from hardship. One day the boss walks into your office and says, “I’m sorry to have to tell you this…”, and everything you depended on falls apart. What I do know, is that God will provide you with daily bread, and although you may not have everything you want, you can learn to be satisfied with only what you need.
I’ve also learned that you can never tell who’ll be an ally when you need one. Many people who I expected to support or assist me were long gone when the time came to call in a favour. But others have come out of the blue to offer generosity and support when we really needed it. So you can’t give yourself to “schmoozing” or “networking”, since you never know who your supporters will be. Put your trust in God to support you, and leave everyone else to do as they see fit.
Lastly, when you step out in faith to try to do something unique or extraordinary, some folks will admire you, while others will feel threatened or think you’re crazy. Don’t pay any attention to either of them, lest your they deflate you or feed your ego.
But, for God’s sake (literally, rather than as an expletive), do something exceptional with your life. We only get one chance to do this. How sad to pander to people or to chase after the illusion of security, when there is so much more waiting for us.
Trust God. Do what He puts in your heart to do. The rest will sort itself out.