Have you ever felt strongly about a conviction yet failed to act on it out of fear of what others think?
Recently I had the honor of speaking about West at the National UMC Worship Conference in a “pre-conference session.” I was anxious because I wanted to make sure that I represented West and this “new way of doing church” with the integrity West deserves. Sometimes preachers can be an imposing audience.
I made a playlist montage of parts/pieces of “songs you’ll hear in worship,” thinking that would be a catalyst for the conversation around “relevance” and how West uses anything to help people relate to Christ, even songs likeUmbrella, Centuries, Happy, Stay With Me, Give a Little Bit, Friends in Low Places, etc.
I was excited to use this playlist as a “mood setter” as the conference began.
No one ever heard the playlist.
Because . . . I chickened out!
As I was getting ready to begin the music I heard a conference leader complain about crumbs on the communion table. He was giving strong directives that the “important things” be paid attention to and how could crumbs be present?
I had a flashback to the time I accidentally dropped the whole loaf of communion bread on the floor. I imagined the look of disdain on his face if he knew I screwed up that majorly during a sacrament.
So I freaked and immediately judged myself inadequate . . . “They are worried about bread crumbs. I dropped the loaf . . . AND played Garth Brooks! I am an incompetent pastor.” (Yes, my mind goes to the extremes).
During the presentation I did find a way to talk about our use of culturally relevant music to make a spiritual point. However, I missed out on a greater witness opportunity because I chickened out based on my fear of what others would think.
Often times in life we miss out on experiencing the wonder and joy of a walk in God because we fear our “spiritual” stance isn’t enough.
Want some irony? The day after the pre-conference session three pastors shared with me how much they appreciated learning how culturally relevant music could be used to teach a spiritual point.
The humbling, convicting question was when they asked, “Do you have any other ideas of good songs to use?”
Of course I did, I was just too afraid to share them. Afraid of who I would offend or perhaps, if I am totally truthful with my prideful self – afraid of “not pleasing – and totally ticking off” the people in charge.
We assume we need to posture and present ourselves before others so that we can “prove” how spiritual we are. As if how we present ourselves to others really matters to God.
When we present our most authentic, transparent selves to God, how we present ourselves to one another is not an issue.
On this Ash Wednesday what if we confess the barriers we put up before God?
What if we give up trying to appear to be pious?
What if we quit posturing and simply exist before God?
That’s called Naked Spirituality.
May we explore that as we walk the journey to Easter.
1 Corinthians 14:1-3[ Prayer Language ] Go after a life of love as if your life depended on it-because it does. Give yourselves to the gifts God gives you. Most of all, try to proclaim his truth. If you praise him in the private language of tongues, God understands you but no one else does, for you are sharing intimacies just between you and him. But when you proclaim his truth in everyday speech, you’re letting others in on the truth so that they can grow and be strong and experience his presence with you.