Trusting God in the Battle Against the Fear of Failure

After high school, I moved to Fort Worth to go to college at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. I was studying a Bachelor of Music, mostly just because I loved singing more than anything, and my favorite place to be was in worship.

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Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, TX
I went to school there for three and a half years when God called me to transfer to The King’s University in Southlake. At the time, the school had just launched an Associates of Worship Leadership, and a Bachelor of Music and Worship. 

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The King’s University in Southlake, TX
When I went to apply for King’s, the option to apply for a Bachelor of Music was no longer there. I applied for the Associates of Worship Leadership, assuming that there must have been some sort of error since I had talked to the school about the degree plan less than two weeks prior. Unfortunately, in the two weeks it had taken me to decide to apply, the school had decided to revamp their Bachelor of Music program. I was encouraged to pursue the Associates of Worship Leadership since most of the credits would be needed for the Bachelor of Music anyway, and they were hoping to start it again in a year and a half.

Well, it has been over two years since I transferred, and there is not going to be a Bachelor of Music. I am graduating with an Associates in Worship Leadership this semester, and a Bachelor in General Christian Studies in the Fall. 

It would be really easy for me to grow bitter, and angry about how everything turned out, but to do that would be to ignore what God has been doing in the middle of all of this.

He is the one that called me to Southwestern. He gave me a powerful foundation in history and theology while I was there, and opened my eyes to see his love for all music – classical and contemporary. I had amazing professors who prayed with me, cried with me, and believed in me when I couldn’t believe in myself.

It was a difficult season in many ways. People would constantly come and go, and I was consistently reevaluating my belief system. I was challenged academically far past the level that was typical of my age, and through sleepless nights, and many procrastinated assignments I learned how to overcome the obstacles set before me.

God used Southwestern and the many people that I met while I was there to transform me. I look more like Jesus now, and I wouldn’t trade that for anything.

Although transferring to King’s made no sense whatsoever, I’ve learned that the best treasures in life are found when I follow God somewhere that makes absolutely no sense. I never would have chosen to do an Associates in Worship Leadership, but God knew all along that what I would learn, and the amazing people that I would meet in this program was exactly what I needed.  I never would have chosen to do a General Christian Studies degree, but through it, I am taking these awesome counseling classes and practicums that I never would have had the opportunity to do otherwise. God is building my character through the journey, and I know that He will not waste a single piece of it.

I have been so changed through these classes and found so much joy and love in this community. God took everything away from me that I thought made up my identity, and then He showed me how He sees me; how He placed value on me when He sent His Son to die for me, and how He created me specifically for a beautiful purpose. I never would have learned to know myself or to listen to my heart if I had never come here. I have learned practical things about leadership and team development, ministry, theology, worship, humility, obedience, friendship, identity, and trusting the Lord even when I don’t know the reason why or the next step.

Which brings me to where I am today – I don’t know what the next step is. I don’t know what I am going to do after I graduate, and after six and a half years of preparation, I have a lot of fear that I am going to epically fail, and it will all have been for nothing. To believe this, though, would be to ignore the most important lesson that He has taught me through all of this; He has a plan, and it’s magnificent. If He were to tell me the next step right now, then I would never live in the present moment.

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If I strive, control, or strategize my way into the next step in my life, then I will try to take credit for whatever it is that God is about to do. I have to learn to trust, let go, and surrender. It feels like failing. It feels like I am not taking responsibility for my life, and that I might never be successful.

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It’s like falling off of a cliff, but knowing that His hand is right below you the whole time, and He will catch you at just the right moment. But right now, I just have to enjoy the sensation of falling. Take a moment, look around, and take it all in; because it only lasts for a moment, and then you can never be in that place again.

So, I’m choosing to trust. I read this, this morning, and it was like Jesus was speaking it directly into my situation,

Then He said to His disciples, “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; nor about the body, what you will put on.  Life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing. Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap, which have neither storehouse nor barn; and God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds? And which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? If you then are not able to do the least, why are you anxious for the rest? Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. If then God so clothes the grass, which today is in the field and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will He clothe you, O you of little faith? And do not seek what you should eat or what you should drink, nor have an anxious mind. For all these things the nations of the world seek after, and your Father knows that you need these things. But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things[a] shall be added to you. Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell what you have and give alms; provide yourselves money bags which do not grow old, a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches nor moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Luke 12:22-34

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As I meditate on this passage, what sticks out to me is the line about the lilies. Lillies are so beautiful, and there is such a variety of them with so many different colors and intricate details. God cares about these things. He loves beauty, and He loves details. He loves me, and through the journey of my life He is drawing out each detail of the beautiful and intricate way that He has created me. So, even though surrender can feel like giving up, I choose to let go, because I know the joy and love I will feel when He catches me is worth it.

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Where is Worship Music Going?

One of my favorite subjects to study is music history, and in my study of music history I have made a fascinating observation; music is always changing. If a new style is not created, the younger generation will revamp an old trend. I believe that this is happening today. “Trends change too quickly to give a balanced or complete overview of recent music. But it seems clear that there is a continuing tension in all types of music between finding a niche of committed listeners whose support will endure and finding a broad audience.” This is the struggle contemporary worship leaders find themselves in. I love contemporary worship music, but for it to endure, it must change and grow with the culture.

My generation is searching for a sound that they can use to make their mark on history. And with the secular world of music reverting to the trends of the sixties, young Christians will either return to a liturgical pattern of worship or create something new that they can identify with. I see this happening among my friends in rapid fashion. There is a flood of young people moving towards liturgical worship. Some have started experimenting with a more atmospheric approach to worship, while others are attempting odd fusions of both styles.

The most recent worship music, contemporary worship, is not changing very much. For that reason, I believe it will not last as the popular worship style for more than twenty years. In an article in Christianity Today, Ed Stetzer describes a third style of worship that is emerging in the church today, “Some of these churches are intentional about not being predictable or appearing to come from a traditional mold. Their band may have an electric guitar, but it might have a cello and clavichord, too . . . The music may include a mix of modern worship songs. Many older hymns will have been updated. Theological depth is expected in the songs.” There is a newer group of young people that are trying to find a sound beyond contemporary worship patterns. It is not a developed and established style yet, so this movement is often disregarded, while it grows under the radar.

Overall, there is a trend in the church towards informality that has been developing over the last couple of decades, and will likely not change. While there is a growing number of young churches that are using more hymns, this movement is fueled by a desire of authenticity, so the formality that liturgical churches have often been identified with prevents these young people from attending denominationally liturgical churches.

When Matt Papa visited our Worship Leader as Team Builder class, he mentioned the underground movement towards liturgical worship styles. He predicted that the movement would continue to grow as the millennial generation became more prominent among church leadership.

There are so many trends, and there is no telling how long each will last, but music is powerful, and it is what we have to express our hearts to God in this season in history. It is important for the worship leader and the songwriter to ponder these things, whether there is a conclusion or not, it is too important to ignore.

Procrastination

Somehow, I always think that in the last hour before a paper is due I’ll get this crazy adrenaline rush and be able to finish it time. And yet more often than not, I am exhausted from cramming it all in at the last minute, aand I turn in my assignment late because I would rather take the late deduction than not turn in a quality paper. 

I’m ridiculous.

Why didn’t I write this four days ago? 

Ugh. It’s so frustrating when you think that you’re finally getting a grip on this whole discipline/managing time well/excellence vs perfectionism thing. Then without fail, midway through the semester, something trips you up and the cycle of procrastination and paralyzing stress overwhelms you again. 

I can’t do this, this time. I don’t have time to be immature or disorganized. Too much is at stake now. 

Father, help me manage my time well. Every second I surrender to You. Have Your way in my life. Guide my conversations, and order my steps. I trust that You know what is best for my every moment, and I ask that You be in the middle of it all speaking life, truth, peace, and love. In Jesus’ name I pray. 

“Things didn’t turn out the way I thought they would.”

You are not going to be able to get all that you want out of life. It’s impossible. And the sooner you accept that fact the more effective you will be at accomplishing what you really can do.

We shouldn’t stop dreaming, and we shouldn’t lower our expectations, but we need to accept that some dreams are for our life on the other side of death. I have seen too many people become depressed and give up on life because “things didn’t turn out the way they thought they would.”

Life is too short to allow disappointment and failure to hold us back from fulfilling the purpose that we were created for. Life will never turn out they way you expected it to. It is a painful and mystically beautiful truth. Accept it and move on.

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I am a dreamer. I have dreams for my personal success, dreams for my friends and family, and dreams for the church. I have come to realize that not all of my dreams can be accomplished by me in this life. That doesn’t mean that I should stop dreaming. God is so much bigger than my life, and the dreams that He gives me are not just for me, but to inspire the people around me, and generations to come.

I think sometimes I try to rationalize my dreams and stop dreaming because I recognize that the journey to see those dreams become a reality is never easy. I’ve seen people close to me walk through some really difficult things, and become depressed or give up on their dreams because things didn’t turn out the way they thought it would.

Giving up won’t change anything. There is nothing you can do to change the past, but God has given you dreams for a purpose. Ask God to breathe new life on your dreams. Take action to see your dreams become a really. If you don’t see how to get there, ask God for the next step.

Grieve the dreams that have died, and then start dreaming again. Don’t dwell on the negative. There is too much potential around you. Every person is completely unique and has the potential to make a specific impact on the world that no one else can.