the baby and the bathwater


treasure
September 11, 2007, 7:10 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

treasure: [verb] to retain carefully; to regard or treat as precious; cherish

guard what has been entrusted to your care (1 Tim 6:20)

My life is littered with the precious things God has entrusted to me. My family, my home, my friends, my Avalon guitar. And one of the things God has entrusted me with is the leading of worship for my church. And I have come to treasure it.

Of course, I know it’s not me, it is God working through me. I know it’s not my ministry it is God’s ministry. And I know that I am only entrusted with it for as long as God deems that it is beneficial to his purposes. But while he entrusts me with it I will look after it, cherish it, guard it, retain it carefully, treat it as precious.

Treasure it.

But this type of treasuring means holding onto it lightly. In fact, it probably only continues to have power whilst I hold onto it with the gentlest of pressure. Clasp it, and I risk suffocating it, risk it becoming ineffectual. Hold onto it too tightly and it will soon start to take on the form on a idol, stealing the glory that God alone is due.

And as a worship leader myself, I need to know that this gift that I treasure is entirely for God’s glory. Any desire to bring glory, or reputation, or adulation onto myself is not treasuring it, it is exploiting it. In fact it is in the complete disregard for my own personal gain that I display the greatest level of treasuring, and that God gets the greatest measure of Glory.

God requires us to treasure what he has entrusted to us. Not seek earthly treasure from it.

And one of the things I am learning is that, because I am involved in something that has such huge potential to bless the church, I need to be so so careful with it. I need to try and be whiter than white as I operate in it. I need to seek to minimise the chance that anything I do could be seen as self-seeking or self-promoting through it. The high profile that comes with it demands a proportionately greater level of thought and care. And I know I probably fail miserably.

Every time I get preoccupied with the number of cd sales I could make, I stop treasuring my gift and start to idolise it. Every time I hope for a higher place on the CCLI chart for one of my songs, I stop treasuring my gift and start to idolise it. Every time I manoeuvre myself into a place to be asked to lead worship at a particular conference, I stop treasuring my gift and start to idolise it. Every time I say ‘no’ to leading worship at an event purely because it isn’t high profile enough, I stop treasuring my gift and start to idolise it.

I recently bought a new car. Well not entirely new, but nearly new. We inherited a little money, and as our old car was on it’s last legs, we decided to buy something that would last us for a long time. Now you need to know something about me. In my twenties, I was your archetypal bachelor. Playing footfall, going to the football, beers, curry, sports car, the works. Then over the last twenty years this has been slowly chipped away at. I am now married, have 2.4 children (well 2 really – it just seems like more) have a respectable job and live in a three bed semi in a tree lined cul-de-sac. And the purchase of this new car complimented this image perfectly.

Yes, I brought a Mondeo.

Can you believe it? But actually it’s quite a nice car. Jeremy Clarkeson thinks so too, apparently. And when we got it, I decided I needed to really look after it. Clean it regularly, clear out all the rubbish which accumulates remarkably quickly from the aforesaid wife and 2.4 children. And so I do. But my wife, with her ‘holier than thou’ Christian face on, says I am idolising it. I try and explain that I am just looking after it, but it won’t change her mind. She tells all our friends I’m in love with a Mondeo. It’s so hurtful.

It seems that even with a boring family car, it’s really easy to mistake treasuring for idolatry. The line is fine.

And think there is so much that we worship leaders do in the name of worship these days that, despite every good motive on our part, could be perceived as idolatry. We only need to look at some of our marketing, our concert tours, our photos on our albums, our press releases, to see this may be happening. And this gives us a huge problem. Because as soon as we are perceived to be self-seeking we will cease to be able to serve our churches properly.

And maybe the bathwater has got so murky in this respect that the baby has every right to shout ‘foul’.

And maybe what we worship leaders need to do is become a little more faceless, a little more local, a little more in the background, a little more in awe of the one who has entrusted this amazing thing to us.

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4 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Hmmm..great post Neil. Lots of food for thought and challenges to ponder.

On the one hand, I feel like Jesus shines through us the most when we’re being most ourselves. On the other, we’re seeking to just be a channel for His Spirit to flow through rather than serving as a distraction.

Like loads of stuff in the area of sung worship, there’s a real tension, a very fine line as you say, and a delicate balance to be struck.

Comment by themakowers

I remember fast cars…is this something about our values changing over time or about just realising there are practicalities and responsibilities to be cared for- other treasures that you need to take care for apart from yourself? ‘lay up your teasure in heaven…’
The worship leader stuff is interesting. Drove home from Soul Survivor with 4 14-16 year olds in the car describing with awe those who were leading the worship (and also having a go at those they didn’t like). I was trying to say to them it was meant to be about worshipping God rather than the leader-thankfully they agreed but then were discussing being unable to speak to one of these leaders who had tried to have a conversation with them. There is a danger of personality taking over-and wow! has so-and so got a new song out- lets use that- rather than thinking it may be the best for the con gregation for that moment.

Comment by Hallmum

Hallmum (O I just get why you use this name. you are the mum and your family is ‘hall’. sorry i’m so slow!)

Totally agree with your comments. Of course there is tremendous value in having leaders who are role models, who are instrumental in driving us on in our walk with God. I have some. And of course, it would be very hard to lead worship for thousands of youth (or adults) without having a certain level of profile. We can’t escape that. But that’s why I think we really need to think extra extra carefully about what our motives are, AND what our motives are perceived to be.

Comment by Neil

I think that last sentence could serve as a manifesto for worship leaders everywhere.

Perhaps the celebrity culture leads us to despise the local, while in reality we are called to serve it NOT because it’s our stepping stone, our proving ground before God can trust us with more, but because the church is His body and is deserving of sacrificial service no matter what the level or size.

There is an emergent ‘glocalisation’ in contemporary culture which may help us stay connected to global issues whil rooting our responses firmly in the local.

Thanks for your thoughts, Neil

Comment by MattCrossman




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