If you’re going to stay, be dedicated

“If you’re going to stay, be dedicated”. No, that’s not what I’m telling you. It’s what God told me Sunday evening, driving home from an engagement with the choir. He didn’t say it in those words exactly. Sometimes He doesn’t have to say anything at all, you know what I mean? It’s just that heavy feeling of conviction that you get sometimes. Suddenly things become clear and you get an epiphany without anyone saying anything at all.

Such was the case Sunday evening driving home from a musical where our choir was scheduled to sing.  People were missing. Important people. Musicians. Our director. Tenors. But I was there and Monica, my dear friend and minister of music was there. So I could stand in as director and other musicians there could help her out with the song. And we had a choir.

We  were first on the program. We go up, I stand in as director, Monica plays for us with help from other musicians that were there, and everything goes fine. You must be thinking at this point “sounds like everything worked out, what’s the problem?” You’re right, everything did.

But in the hallway after we exited the choir stand Monica came up to me and said “I was so scared, Ron. I thought I was going to have to try to direct and play in front of all these people. I didn’t see you back there.”

Again, I was there to direct, we had all the choir members we needed and everything worked out. But I couldn’t feel good about it because as soon as Monica came up to me and expressed how upset she was before she found out I was there, it’s like God slammed into my head every instance I had put her in that position before by not being there myself like others weren’t there that time. Even if everyone else was.

You kinda have to be familiar with the traditions and practices of Pentecostal/Church Of God In Christ denomination to really understand how often this situation occurs. In the COGIC denomination it’s very common for these “evening services” to occur several times a month, either at your own church or at someone else’s.  You go to your regular Sunday morning service and serve, get out for an hour or two and then you’re back for a second service, usually dismissing around 7.

So music departments are constantly on the go and constantly going to second services. They make for some very long days. Over the years I’d become jaded with the whole thing to the point I was starting to wonder if it was time to switch denominations. But I didn’t feel like I was hearing that from God. I felt like it was my own frustrations with denominational traditions and whatever else I decided to have a problem with.

So rather than leave over it I decided I would simply find my own balance. I’d go to these extra things when I felt like it, as long as I took care of home events. Over time I became known for NOT going to engagements away from the church and was simply not expected to be there.

I hope you’re getting a better picture of what’s going on here and why this particular Sunday ended up being a defining moment for me as far as my ministry is concerned. You see, today I had made up my mind I was going; first because it was a special request of our pastor that we all be there. Secondly I’d really been trying to make an effort to simply be more faithful about going to outside engagements.

So I was there, and thank God I was. But God wasn’t about to allow me to feel like I had come in and “saved the day” or something, no. When my friend of over 30 years walked up to me in that hallway, looked into my eyes and told me how panicked she was in the seconds leading up to  mounting the choir stand…knowing she didn’t have her band there to help her and thinking she didn’t have a director either…I thought of all the other times she must have been the only musician. Even worse though, I thought “what if I hadn’t came today?”

Our drummer and bass player were arriving as we were leaving the parking lot, over an hour late to the engagement. I was angry. But really all it did was heap more coals onto my own head.
I felt so much personal conviction in that car driving down the highway. I didn’t hear any voices, guys. I didn’t think the words. I didn’t hear a small still voice in my head. I didn’t hear my conscious talking to me.

I just knew everything at once. I knew that whatever issues I was having with COGIC and the way they do things, as long as I was going to stay I was simply going to have to be more dedicated. It’s funny because we had a meeting at work one day about a bunch of changes and all the challenges they were throwing at us.

The regional manager put it this way. “I understand that things are tough. I’m dealing with a lot of stuff I don’t like and I’m not happy with. But at the end of the day if I don’t like it I can walk. I can vote with my feet,” he said. “But as long as I decide to stay I understand that I OWN it.”.

That’s what I felt like God was telling me in that car, without saying anything to me at all. If I feel like it’s time for me to go then I need to pray about it, get confirmation and start looking for a new church home. But for as long as I feel like I’m supposed to be where I am, I need to be dedicated. I need to own my position and all the responsibilities that come with it. Regardless of how I feel about anything outside of that music ministry, that’s my job for as long as I “own it”.

About halfway home I sent my friend a text message that read:  “I’ll be there from now on, Monica”.

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10 Responses to If you’re going to stay, be dedicated

  1. Latrece Johnson says:

    This blog is blessing me in so many ways. I praise God for both of you being so open and real about your walk in music ministry. I am so so guilty right now of not being faithful in music ministry and God is allowing another to take on the mantle. I am being asked by the person to help them in the onset as they work to fully transform the P&W team into the type of P&W they do. How interesting is that. I truly want to see the ministry at our church fully supported in all areas of the ministry at all times so I am writing down the current song list and giving it to them. I pray God forgives me for my slothfulness.

  2. Stephanie Etienne says:

    Own it! I’m guilty of this as well. I will share this with my choir. Thank you coach Ron.

  3. alyce says:

    Remind me to remind myself! “Own it.”

  4. Lynn Pearson says:

    Coach, I promise I’ve had that same “Come to Jesus” moment with myself. By the time I you finish the District Meeting, it’s time for AIM, then Women’s Convention and Convocation, it’s a constant revolving door that can make you weary. My Pastor and MOM depend heavily upon me and I’m usually there sick and all. I would plan out from the beginning which nights I wasn’t going. When I would go, I would fuss and complain the whole time, which defeats the purpose and my heart wasn’t right so I should’ve stayed home. (maybe you need to blog about that) But I finally had to decide, if I was going to “suck it up” and sing or move on. Since I’m not going anywhere, I had to get to singing…

  5. Gerald Mukere says:

    Mmm powerful, that’s a challenge most of us face at church of not wanting to be fully committed, because of many reasons etc.
    We really need to be dedicated if we’re to reap the rewards, thanks Ron!

  6. Alyce Harris says:

    Bless you Ron! What helps me keep ‘owning it’ on my mind is remembering that I should do everything “as unto the Lord.” That sentiment is expressed in Prov 16:3 and Col 3:23-24. But, seriously, I have a wall hanging that I see prior to leaving home; the theme of which is “As Unto the Lord.” Believe me, I need all the help I can get! Beautifully and transparently shared! And appreciated! As well as the previous comments. Blessings to you all!

    • Ron Cross says:

      Thank you Alyce, I always love your comments. That’s a great idea you had putting something inspirational on the wall where you can see it as you leave to start your day. Nice!

  7. Monica says:

    Hi Ron. I want to add to your blog today if I may. God really does work in mysterious ways even when you can have a longtime relationship with him. He keeps the relationship alive; and is never boring or lax in his coming… As they were calling us to come up and minister, Sharon, our president panicked too for the same reasons I did. She was asking what are we going to do? I told her I don’t know, but as I was telling her before I saw you coming from the back of the sanctuary, God put a calmness over me and let me know that everything will be alright. He let me know in that split second before I saw you that he’s never left me nor forsaken me; and this time won’t be any different. So it was true, yes I was panicking and yes we had to sing a backup song; but God was with us and I knew that whatever was going to happen, it was going to be good because God would have a hand in it. If I had to direct, he was going to make it work. (I haven’t directed a choir in 20 years!) However, I was willing to do whatever I had to do for us to minister. I just didn’t want to ’embarrass’ my church and our pastor. Thank you again for being there and for rededicating your life to this ministry. As you can see, everybody IS needed. There is no ‘i’ in TEAM.

    Be Blessed,
    Monica Hines
    Minister of Music
    New Comforter Church of God in Christ

    • Ron Cross says:

      I’m always honored when you stop in Monica. My readers are starting to know you by name, lol! Your story shares even more insight into just how much God did to align things just perfectly that evening. When our main director decided to step down to focus on his ministry I decided then that I’d need to make more of an effort to be there for outside engagements. But God knew that I needed to feel what I felt Sunday evening, or I would be making the effort but doing so with the wrong spirit. Thank so so much for all you do my dear friend.

  8. (JD) James Muckle says:

    It is a confirmation for me of a comment I made to my wife a few days ago about her having to be at an event that the choir is to accompany the Pastor. Her comment was that one of the main people that is usually there will not be because of illness, I said to her do not worry about who is there or not htere you be there and do tne best you can. Sometimes it is not who or how many but therem is someone there to do the minitering praise and worship. I am glad I read this and will try to get the rest of the choirs that I am apart of to be aware ofmowning it and if you do it is your responsibility.

    thank you
    (JD) Min. James Muckle
    Greaterlight Missinary Baptist Church

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