The blessing in being pushed

JB-09-APFT-001Many people who follow me or have known me for a while don’t know that I’m a veteran. I don’t tend to bring that up when people are talking about veterans though, or celebrating veterans. Someone asked me why one day. I told her that sure, I was in the Army for 3 years, but I never saw a minute of war. I spent the whole time state side. That’s hardly something I feel comfortable comparing to those who actually fought, saw friends murdered, sustained life-altering injuries.

But I did serve 3 years in the Army. The experience taught me a lot of things, but it taught me one thing in particular that I’ve never forgotten and still embrace to this day. That is, that you will never really know what you’re truly capable of until you allow someone to push you beyond what you THINK you’re capable of.  I absolutely hated boot camp. And I absolutely loved boot camp. I hated it because of the drill seargents, of course. At the end though, I loved it for the same reasons.

You see when you’re going through boot camp those drill sergeants are constantly in your face, yelling at you. Screaming at you. Punishing you for every little thing. Forcing you to keep going when you swear you can’t take another step.  We used to run for miles every morning. I remember one guy in our platoon who would constantly fall behind the formation, gradually through the ranks and finally out of the back. Every time he did though, my drill sergeant would turn the entire platoon around. We would all run back to the place he stopped, gather him up and continue on our way. We were so angry, but we were learning a very valuable lesson that created an amazing bond between us.

We all thought they got some kind of sick pleasure out of torturing us. That is, until graduation day. At that moment, standing there in the best shape of our entire lives, strong, confident, self-assured men, it dawned on us what they had been doing all along. Pushing us beyond our own perceived limitations. Forcing us to go further than we thought we could.

And the “punishment” they inflicted on us? Exercise. Yup. Push-ups. One guy in my platoon couldn’t pass the push-up portion of the PT test. So every time we were anywhere   in a formation the drill sergeant would randomly call his name….”JOHNSON! DROP!!! And Johnson would drop to the ground and start doing push-ups. One day (and I’ll never forget this) the drill sergeant told Johnson to drop and give him 20. Only this time when Johnson went down, the entire platoon joined him (remember that bond I talked about?)  And we all did so every time after that. By the time we reached graduation Johnson could do about 80 push-ups in 2 minutes.

I could tell you story after story like that, but hopefully you already see where I’m going with this. You see I’ve worked out on my own off and on many times since then. I’ve been in some pretty good shape, too. But I have never again achieved the level of fitness I achieved during boot camp. Why? Because I’m incapable of pushing myself as hard as they pushed me.

That’s true of most people though. Very few people can push themselves beyond what they perceive is their limit. There is a very strong sense of preservation that is innate in all of us. It’s very difficult to circumvent that sense of self preservation. Even the most determined of us will only push ourselves so far, because it’s too easy to just stop. Even if we don’t want to, the feeling to do so is so overwhelming that it’s hard not to. Yet when when someone comes along and takes that option away from us we find that we can in fact keep going.

What does any of this have to do with music ministry? Everything. You see, most people who love to sing want to be in the best choirs, most awesome praise teams, most anointed groups. But very few people understand what it takes for those groups to perform at that level.  Many others join such groups only to find themselves constantly frustrated and angry about the work involved.

Behind every great, awesome, anointed choir, praise team or group, there is someone relentlessly pushing them towards perfection. There is some person; some director, some musician, some music director- who just won’t take “close enough”, or “not quite”. Someone who keeps making you do it again and again until the harmony is right. And he gets on your last nerve. Makes you angry. You can’t understand why he doesn’t just move on. He’s too much of a perfectionist, you say. You think about getting out of the choir or praise team.

But then something happens. What happens? Sunday comes. And you go forth in anointed, powerful, atmosphere-changing ministry. And God’s people are blessed beyond measure. And YOU’RE blessed. Souls are saved. Yolks broken. And at that moment, standing there basking in the spiritual down-pour, you feel amazing. Like you’re doing the very thing God put you here to do. Oh, to be used by God in such a powerful way!

After church you feel so good as the members come up and go on and on about how powerful the music ministry was today. And maybe you begin to share how the song was ministering to you so much that you were able to just lose yourself in worship. At that moment though, few people are able to make the connection between that, and that guy that was pushing you relentlessly at rehearsal.

It’s hard at that moment to see that the pushing brought about the perfecting, which brought about the praise. You see everyone wants to be a part of an anointed music ministry. But few understand that the most anointed choirs, groups and praise teams are those with the strongest, hardest, most ridged work ethic. And there is always someone at the head of groups like that who pushes, and drives, and insists on the best you can give, even when you feel like you can’t give any more.

Most soldiers don’t really realize how profoundly their drill sergeant has impacted and changed their lives until the end, when it’s time to go. The same is true in life, isn’t it? Whether it’s the hardest teacher, the tough boss or the insistent music director, very few of us really understand the impact they have on our lives until they’re no longer there for whatever reason.

So my challenge to you today is to not only allow yourself to be pushed, but embrace it. Having a mentor, a coach, motivator, a trainer- someone to push you past your limits- will always make you a much better version of yourself than you could ever achieve on your own. Join my mailing list below and start today getting the push you need to take your ministry higher.

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7 Responses to The blessing in being pushed

  1. Jenny Shain says:

    Yes- when you’ve done everything you can to prepare “you feel amazing. Like you’re doing the very thing God put you here to do.”
    This article says everything I’ve wanted to say about Life Coaching! We need a coach/teacher to help us reach our potential, someone that sees the very best in us.

  2. Claudia Looi says:

    Thanks Ron for this post.

    This is a great quote that I can use from you: “Everyone wants to be a part of an anointed ministry…But few understand the work ethic. And there is always someone at the head of groups like that who pushes, and drives, and insists on the best you can give, even when you feel like you can’t give any more.”

  3. Olga Hermans says:

    I love what you told us today Ron, that we will never really know what we are truly capable of until we allow someone to push us beyond what we THINK we are capable of. This is so true, especially when we would be in a group like you were in the army. Awesome! I am going to use this on my wall in my biz page!!

  4. Is God trying to tell the whole group or is it just me? I feel like God is pushing me to take care of my health. I’m also being challenged with my work in a different way. And I’ve definately been pushed to change how I behave within a particular relationship.
    This post has reassured me that I will benefit in the end and that God’s outcome is infinately better than any outcome I could have envisaged.
    Thank you so much Ron!

  5. Penny says:

    This post is awesome…the part when you talked about bonding and the whole platoon doing pushups with Johnson, brought me to tears…That is what life is all about bonding relationships to help build and encourage each othe bringing us to our highest potential! ..thank you for this post!

  6. Wow, God is up to something today! This is the 2nd boot camp message I’ve read… but what you said about us not often being able to push ourselves beyond what we perceive our limits to be makes so much sense!

    I’m ready to push past my limits…. what I love most about your boot camp story is how the whole platoon learned to move as one, that unity, that shared mission, the support and encouragement.

    Do you see that in Christian life, Ron?

  7. Matthew Reed says:

    It’s funny that you would post this today Ron, because I posted on my blog that a great way to start a new habit is to ‘boot-camp’ it. Set a goal that seems beyond yourself and maybe even more challenging than where you hope to end up for a short season as a means to launch you into success.
    Great post.

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