Rollercoaster Reminders

I felt as if I had been on an emotional roller coaster— a week in which I experienced everything from incredible joy to unimaginable grief.  And at every turn, I found I had to be ready and willing to be present in each moment, even when I couldn’t find the strength to carry on.  In many ways, I was feeling pressure to push through and do everything well; after all, I was the church music and worship director, and the congregation was expecting me to offer up heartfelt music that would speak to the current circumstances. 

I tried not to succumb to stress and overwhelm, but I found myself giving in to my perfectionist nature.  I knew others were looking to me, so I gave each task my best effort even though I could feel myself crumbling.  As the weekend approached, a good friend came to visit, and I was able to set aside a great deal of my work and practicing to focus on what really mattered— friendship. 

As I started to unwind, I picked up a book by worship leader Darlene Zschech: Extravagant Worship.  At one point in the book, Zschech recounts a time in which she was feeling driven to be a performer, even in the context of leading worship in the local church.  She compared this tendency to feeling the need to perform in terms of faith as well.  Often, it can become so easy to put our faith on display and tote it around as if we have something to prove.  The same can be true of those in music ministry.  We know people are watching and listening, and if we’re not careful, we can turn worship into a performance-driven activity.

Zschech shares about a time when she was praying about this very thing, and at that time she heard the still, small voice of the Lord speak to her heart: “You never need to perform for me.”  This is so true!  I have come to know that God doesn’t long for a flawless performance as I lead from behind the piano.  He doesn’t care about me being off pitch or playing the wrong chord; instead, he cares about what is going on inside my heart. 

Many musicians and worship leaders have had to learn this the hard way.  For me, this moment came midway through 2010.  I was inNashville, competing at Immerse, a conference for budding Christian musicians.  I had just finished singing and playing my original song “Footsteps,” and I was overwhelmed with the time I had just spent singing for Him.  I knew what was on the line for me at that moment: making it into the top three in my category to proceed into the finals.  But at that time, none of that mattered.  I heard Him speak to my heart, similar to what Darlene Zschech recounts from her time with the Lord.  He basically said this to me: “Cassie, I have called you to minister through music but not here.”  It was then that I knew He had indeed called me to use my voice for Him, but it wasn’t in the way I had first thought. 

In that season of my life, I had been struggling with my breathing and a weakened voice; I found it hard to do concerts because I would become so fatigued just trying to maintain enough breath support to sing. During that time, I had cried out to God, pleading with Him to give my voice back.  All the while, I was missing the most important thing; my voice was not my voice after all.  Instead, I came to realize that my voice belonged to God and Him only.  He had entrusted me with this gift, and it was my job to use it for His glory.  I made the commitment to sing for Him above all else, and to this day, you can find my vision statement for ministry on the music page of my website: “Without Him I wouldn’t have a reason to sing.”

As I moved forward on the road to recovery, I began to lead praise and worship at FRC, and now as I work on staff as Music and Worship Director, I have been given numerous opportunities to serve and honor Him in this capacity.  Leading worship has never been a performance for me; in fact, in the rare occasion I give a concert, I find it odd that no one is singing along with me.  It’s almost as if I need to be surrounded with corporate praise and worship to make it all come together. 

This past week served as a reminder to place my focus back on where it belongs and to give Him all of the honor and glory.  In the end, it should never be a performance but an offering to Him instead.  After all, as God whispered to Darlene’s heart, I never have to perform for Him; He knows my heart and He is pleased with the song I bring as long as it is rooted in my love for the Savior.      

One thought on “Rollercoaster Reminders

  1. And influence I shall! I found out that 3 of 5 Strengths I have are under the Influencing category so I shall live into that in the best way I can dear friend! Thanks for the encouraging post!! Have a great week!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s