The one thing that must be your reason for EVERYTHING

Saturday night, about 9:00, I was relaxing in my apartment all by myself. Watching comedy shows on tv while I fold laundry and enjoy a couple of Sweet Italian Brats. And I was smiling. Not because of the comedy show I was watching though. No, that was making me laugh. This smile was coming from a different place. It was coming from a place of deep satisfaction, contentment, gratitude and just….love, I guess you’d call it.

You see Saturday I installed this cool new feature on my fan page that allows people to actually type up a review and rate it with up to 5 stars. Well, I sent the word out to my mailing list, posted on my fan page, sent a few private messages, etc. Lo and behold, the thing wasn’t working correctly. People were trying to leave their review and were unable to. I was so frustrated! Frustrated and embarrassed, actually.

So now I’ve sent out all these e-mails with a link to something that isn’t working. Not to mention the promoted post I had out there. So after deleting the app and re-installing it, now I have to go “eat crow” and ask these people to do it again. I thought “oh man, they’re going to be angry because I e-mailed them again. Someone’s gonna complain I’m spamming them, or unsubscribe. And in fact one person did (that I know of).

But in the meantime something else was happening. Something wonderful. In the middle of my frustration I started to notice that my fan page was more active and busier than it had ever been in any one day. I was laughing and chatting and talking with people, and everything I was posting was getting comments and likes, and…wow! But that wasn’t the best part. The best part was that people were starting to respond to the call.

They were starting to come to the fan page to leave their reviews. And that was touching enough, but there were a couple of people who were so determined to share their kind words with me that they spent most of their morning trying to get the app to work, going back several times and leaving their comments. Not to be denied the opportunity to share how they had been blessed, several of them simply posted their wonderful comments right on my wall when the app wouldn’t work.

One of my subscribers has told me since day one that he doesn’t do FaceBook, period. Well imagine how I felt when a comment showed up with that little blank head on the left where the picture should be. It was him. He felt the need to share his appreciation so strongly that he actually created an account and liked the page just to do so. Overwhelming.

So in the middle of all this, the guy who created the app responded to my distress call. He came to my page to test it by leaving a review. While he was there though, he couldn’t help notice all the great comments, responses and love going on. “Wow, great page Ron! You have great content and such a responsive audience” I felt like company had just dropped in unexpectedly at my house and found it in absolutely pristine condition, with everyone dressed to the 9’s and on their best behavior.

So I’m reflecting on all of this at the end of the day and just marveling at how absolutely great it all made me feel. And I think I understood at that moment better than any other time in my life why I’ve dedicated my life to music ministry. It certainly hasn’t been because of days like this. No, days like this are rare indeed. This is not the norm, it’s the exception.  So what drives me to do this all the other days when there’s nobody there? It has to be something besides kudos and recognition, because often they are simply not there.  No, the single driving motivation for everything I do in this ministry is passion. Love.

 In music ministry and everything else in life you set out to do, unbridled passion for it must be the reason you do it. Not the promise of money, not the hope of eventual fame or recognition. Not the praise of the masses. It must be love. Passionate love. That kind of love, I discovered at that moment, is the thing that has made me come to that page all of the other days when nobody’s engaging or commenting or liking or anything else.  All of the other 364 days when nobody’s stopping by, or those days when I write a fantastic article that doesn’t raise an eyebrow.

Or when I drive that choir to the point that they almost hate me at rehearsal and then they absolutely sing us through the roof Sunday, but nobody says anything or makes the connection or says thank you. Or all those times I go to that other church and prepare their choir for their musicals and special occasions, driving 30 minutes one way on a Saturday (leaving my visiting kids at my place) 3 weeks in a row, only to hear them give most of the credit to their director and only casually mention that I “stopped by and helped out”.

Passion is the thing that drives you to keep doing it even when there doesn’t seem to be much of a payoff for you. Love is the thing that makes you HAVE to do it even after the 100th conversation with yourself that you should quit. It is the thing that makes you do it even when you feel nobody really appreciates it.

Of course, I knew this stuff.

But Saturday I had an epiphany. You see there I was, basking in the warm glow of this Fan page love fest that was happening. And feeling sooo loved and sooo appreciated. But then I realized that The Music Ministry (something I didn’t want to create) is the perfect merging of everything I love passionately. God gave me a love of music. He gave me a passion for teaching. And he gave me a joy of writing.

So before I ever joined the choir as a kid, I listened to the background singers while everyone else sang along with the leader. Before I ever had a blog I wrote poems at 11 years old. And beautiful essays in  high school, and love letters to my girlfriends, and songs, and articles that I did just for the joy I got from the creative release of writing. And before I was ever a vocal coach I loved teaching people things.  Anything. I taught several members of my family how to drive a stick.  My minister of music and I still laugh today about how I used to teach her songs on the piano before I could play myself.  In fact anything I knew and understood well, I could teach.

I guess what I’m trying to say here is true passion; a deep, undeniable love for what you do, is often found in the things you would do just for the joy you get from it. That thing you’d do if nobody ever noticed or said anything or gave you a pat on the back. That kind of love must be your single and most important reason for doing anything. That alone will sustain you, and drive you, and encourage you, and motivate you to strive for excellence in your service to God. It will stand alone as the single quantifiable, justifiable reason you to keep going when everything says you should quit. And it alone should be the acid test you use to decide if music ministry or any other ministry is really where God wants you.

I can tell you from over 30 years of experience that you had better not join any ministry for the fish and the loaves, or the praise. If you do you will certainly spend most of your time unhappy and unfulfilled. But when you find that thing that you do for no other reason than the joy and deep self-satisfaction you get from it,  it is then God blesses you with a day like I had Saturday. It’s then-when you’ve reached a place where you simply don’t care if anyone notices or pats you on the back or not- that you are reaching your highest level of real ministry, which is service. When you reach that place, even on your worst days you won’t have to ask yourself why you do it. ( Colossians 3:23-25 )