Tonight at music practice for our campus worship service, a few students learned that I had recorded a few albums and traveled in music ministry. They quickly took to calling me a "cultured rockstar," to which I responded, "I am neither cultured nor a rockstar." And I mean that wholeheartedly (especially the cultured part...and the rockstar part).
But it did get me thinking about the blessings I have had as a mediocre musician. To travel with Captive Free as an immature 19 year old was surely a personal challenge, one in which I saw deep personal failures and great team triumphs. Then to take part in various worship bands at Ashland University, first as a drummer and then also doing double duty as as a worship leader, gave me an opportunity to grow and expand as a musician, as a leader, and as a Christian. This brought me the opportunity to record drum tracks a bit with Aaron Wardle and more with Red Team. That has launched me into ministries of writing liturgies and worship music for local communities, as well as beginning to teach others some of the great wisdom I learned in these contexts.
But what I have found out ten years now since I left for Captive Free is that the true blessing was not the opportunity, but the people who believed in me enough to offer me the opportunity. Without the forgiveness and compassion of my Captive Free team - Amanda, Amber, Bri, Christy, Robert, and Steve - and Donna, our director; without the time and investment from Aaron and Pete; without the companionship and mutual admonition of people like Nate and Michael and Jody; without the friendships of these and too many unmentioned others, then all the music and travel in the world would be worthless. The blessing that God brought me, and continues to bring me, through music, is community. Even now, with Emily, Madi, Eric, Lara, Laura, and Neil, I am finding the best blessing to be the growth of the church through the gift of music, not just in terms of numbers, but in terms of maturity. Music has constantly put me in a place to grow from my failure because of the great people God sent me who happened to be musicians.
So yes, I have traveled playing music, though it was not really a big deal. And yes, I have recorded drums on a few albums, and while I love them, they'll never see Billboard. The biggest blessing was the people who pushed me, who admonished me, who challenged me, who encouraged me, who believed in me, even in the midst of my failure, that we might become better because of God's work in the midst of us.
That is a gift worth singing about.
Simultaneously a sinner and a saint.