Who inspires you? As a child, I would dive into the latest issue of “The Adventures of Superman” and pretend to mimic the “Last Son of Krypton” as he saved Lois Lane. Little did I know, there were real life heroes around me during those early years.
One set of my heroes were the church staff at Beaver Dam Baptist Church. I wrote a little bit about them here. In addition to that article, they helped to shape my ministry then, and still do today. But, no matter how much I may have wanted to BE them, I am my own person and minister. Even though we are different individuals, that won’t stop me from gaining wisdom from them, laughing with them and at them, and stealing their ideas from time to time.
Another hero of mine was one I had very little personal interaction with, Carl “Chip” Stam from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. ChurchMusicToday.Net recently wrote a reflection of his life here. His leadership in several Kentucky Baptist Convention events made me a better minister, leader, and person. His wisdom, character, humor, and ability to communicate automatically instilled with me a desire to be better.
Ever have that certain someone in your Christian walk where everything they said and did was burned into your memory banks? Early in my years (and still today), John Cashion filled that role for me. Later, Dr. Ahnell at Kentucky Wesleyan College, then Dr. Tony Cunha at Campbellsville University. But, Chip was that person for me over the last few years. Chip had passion. A Spiritual passion. A passion to love God more and a passion to serve Him more. That passion poured out in his love of music and communication of it.
At his memorial service held at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, there were over seventy ministers of music singing in the choir, the seminary President leading the service, along with Bob Kauflin and Keith & Kristyn Getty leading in worship. That should speak about who Chip was and the impact he had on others. Check out this great blog post from Jeremy Pierre. And this from Tom Schreiner and Bruce Ware.
I met Chip while I was struggling a bit in ministry and learning about who I was as a minister. I was following the call but questioning it as well. Chip re-focused my ministry and passion for the God who called me and led me into ministry, just by being himself. It didn’t take 14 counselling sessions or a recommendation of a good book on the subject. I am forever grateful for Chip being himself when I needed it the most.
I am still learning about who I am as a minister. I learn new strengths and weaknesses everyday. But, one thing I am learning more and more is to be myself. The biggest thing congregations can do to help themselves and their ministers is to not expect them to be the previous person in that ministry position. We are all different people with different strengths. We should strive to make the ministries God calls us to our own. If we don’t do them His way (through our leadership), we are not being faithful to our God who made us to do His good and perfect will.
This is why I respect the music of Pepper Choplin (choral), Bob Kauflin and Keith Getty (both congregational) so much. They are unique composers who do not try to imitate any other writer! They write to their strengths and those strengths turn their musical interpretation of scripture into very unique compositions.
We need to minister in this fashion as well.
- We should first be Biblical. We should then follow the Biblical commands from those called to Pastor.
- Next, we need to be ourselves. God has gifted us all differently. Use the gifts He has given and watch Him bless us.
- Finally, be open to being inspired. Be inspired by His Word first, next His leading, and finally, His example. Don’t be so close-minded and sheltered that you lose the ability to be impressed, inspired, and in awe of the awesome things God is doing around you.
Hopefully, ministers of every area will learn to grow and work together. I think this should go beyond a group meeting every so often. The veterans should look to help the rookies. The rookies should listen to the veterans. But both groups can inspire each other. I pray we aren’t so close-minded that we form cliques in our ministry circles. We all have things to offer. We all have gifts and abilities. If you are in a large church or if you are in a very small church, the most important thing is glorifying God. As my Pastor said recently, “if you aren’t doing that (glorifying God), why does it matter?”.
Don’t let your ministry identity be a secret identity like that of Clark Kent and Superman. No one could ever figure out that Clark was Superman and vice versa (the glasses really threw them off). Don’t hide your heart from yourself, your family or your congregation. If you are yourself in your ministry, then we may be the real hero our Savior wants us to be.
And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. (Colossians 3:17)
Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men. (Ephesians 6:7)