Thursday, 20 September 2012

Hitting hard.

I love those moments when God taps you on the shoulder and says ‘I told you so’.

There are points in your life when you realise that there are things that you can’t do or probably shouldn’t take on. You realise the limits of your capacity and it’s a bit of a humbling moment. Up until recently, my response at those points has been one of reckless ambition and defiance, while I can hear my wife, Anna, in the background whispering ‘Are you sure?’ I say whispering. She was probably saying it quite clearly but I had my hearing filter switched to overdrive.

A few years ago, I can remember my good friend and pastor, Andy Arscott, referring to me as a special weapon that we need to keep razor sharp with regard to my worship leading gifting to get maximum benefit from me as part of the church body; that it wouldn’t be right to blunt me by using me in other areas. It’s the same for all of us. God gives us different gifts and abilities so that we can bless each other. ‘ If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing?’ 1 Cor 12: 12 – 31. There are times when I’d really like to be an ear when I’m quite clearly a finger. Or a backside.

I quite often end up the butt of church jokes. (Quite literally – I’m often referred to as Beyoncé by some of the reprobates hanging around the church office). It’s regularly brought up that I have the pastoral and administrative skill of a buffalo, yet I’ve been chomping at the bit for years to have a go at improving in those areas. A couple of years ago, Anna and I were given the responsibility of leading a home group. Full of eagerness we launched into it. It had dawned on me that leading another group pastorally and administratively would improve me in those areas. I’m sure it did in some regards, but it killed me in most other areas. Leading the worship team took a hit. Family life took a hit. Church took a hit. Our worship team is not as good as it was two years ago. We lost a lot of momentum by me striving to be something I’m not.

When Stu and Andy suggested we step back from leading a home group at the start of the summer so I could concentrate on getting the worship team right, I was like ‘Whose idea was it for us to lead one in the first place?!’ We totally love the guys that God gave us for that season, but the most loving thing for them was for us not to be leading them at a home group, but to be leading them in worship.

Our worship engine room is about to roar into action again. I’ve discovered the importance of delegation and have acquired a MMMMONSTER administrator in the shape of Ben Homer, who has the gig schedule of a musician with a very full gig schedule, but still manages to find about 70 hours more than anyone else in the week to help with Church bits and pieces. He’s my special weapon. If you lead a worship team and haven’t got a Homer then get one.

Homer the homing missile.

Realising your own personal limits and capacity is one of the most delimiting things you can do for your church. I’m not saying that God doesn’t give grace to mould you into other shapes. Our lead pastor, Stu Alred is an amazing example of God’s transforming love and power. When we met, not long after he became a Christian only 8 years ago, he was by no means a people person - grumpy, rude, disinterested etc. But God has changed him beyond recognition and I now see him way ahead of most leaders of his generation. Each year I see more of the impact of the Gospel on his life, loving people more and more.

What I am saying though is that if God has already clearly given you grace for a certain area of serving, you should maybe consider that He might want to use you for maximum impact in that area. It’s something I learned the hard way.

Maximum impact. Aim to hit hard in the way God made you to hit hardest.


  1. Hey Matt,

    Enjoyed reading your thoughts here. Glad to read of your renewed passion. Sorry for the jokes. I'm jealous that I can't dance like you.

    When I was playing rugby a question you are always thinking about is 'what is my best position?' for some it was clear. A prop probably will not be a winger, but maybe a hooker?

    A mistake a lot of people make I think is too specialise too early without exploring other gifts and developing other skills. Exploration not only helps you with your own self awareness of strengths but it also helps you have empathy with those who play other positions so you can be a better team player.

    Additionally players who can play multiple positions well are very much valued in any team. So it's probably worth a bash to find out particularly early in the journey. (pre 40)

    For each of us I wonder if stage of life, experience and needs of the team are other factors before sticking to only one area as we discover our gifts and roles in Church.

    Looking forward to feeling the full force of Gilo on worship...

  2. Gilo

    I feel that you have really hit the heart of something there. Although as Stu says it is important not to be pigeon holed early at the risk of missing Gods calling, gifting and blessing in another area there seems little point not using what God has given you for the sake of trying to do all things. The phrase "jack of all trades master of none" springs to mind as a negative side effect of spreading yourself too thin.

    On a personal note I know that my worship would be nothing without the lead of an awesomely gifted and spirit filled team up the front. Seeing your God given talent humbly serving us each week is amazingly comforting and a joy to worship God through you. Just want to say that team Salts would rather you firing on all cylinders from the front that tired from being pulled in all directions. We ultimately serve for God and to God so don't worry if it is only one area.

  3. Thanks for your thoughts guys (and kind comments Fi). I get where Stu is coming from. There are all sorts of factors that can restrict or release us. It's definitely easier to learn new things when you're young and it's always worth exploring whether God has made you good at something else. I was in a position where I already knew that I was weak in those areas and needed to improve, but I also knew that I could not put worship down completely and pick up on those areas with full force, which is what might have helped me best to develop. I simply don't have the capacity to push really hard on 2 fronts! Not with 2 young kids! For me to stop leading worship would not have helped the church at all though. And it wouldn't have helped me either to stop doing the thing that I feel God has definitely called me to. It's like Eric Liddell said, 'When I run (in my case, play), I feel His pleasure'.