3 Ways to Avoid Disillusionment in Your Ministry
July is Authenticity month at Music and the Church. For the last several months, I’ve been working on a project related to authenticity in church services, and I’m giving a conference paper about authenticity and salvation this month—more on that to come!
This week I want to start things off by talking about authenticity’s opposite: hypocrisy.
Hypocrisy is claiming to believe one thing and then doing another. (Or as I’ve heard it, your walk doesn’t match your talk.)
I’ve been thinking about hypocrisy because it’s something we church musicians deal with as a matter of course in our ministries. Being on a church’s staff means that you see a lot of human messiness than you might otherwise see. Hopefully we see it in ourselves first of all, but its commonplace existence in churches can be really disillusioning!
(Granted, sometimes church musicians can just show up for the music, go home, and forget about relational ministry to the folks in our churches. But I don’t think that’s the healthiest approach to take—either for a church to expect that from the musicians they hire, or for us musicians to cordon off our music from other aspects of church life.)
Here are three things that have helped me minister without disillusionment over the years:
First, anyone who comes to a church service willingly has said at least one “yes” to God. In other words, their heart has at least begun to be open to God—an openness that the Word can minister to through music.
Second, it’s no surprise that every church is full of broken people—it’s a spiritual hospital! Jesus said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I have come to call not the righteous but sinners” (Mark 2:17). (Yes, we should all count ourselves in the sick category—in the “chief of sinners” category—because the only other option is believing we don’t need the Great Physician.)
Third, none of us truly knows another person’s heart—you don’t know if they have begun to repent, or whether they have even the desire to be able to repent.
What looks like hypocrisy may be, yes, hypocrisy. But a person who seems hypocritical may be walking toward repentance. They may be struggling to do the right thing, falling, and then getting up again.