Friday, September 10, 2010

You Gotta Serve Somebody

I remember my freshman year in college I played it like most other greeny freshman. I church-hopped every sunday, picking out congregations like treats in a candybar aisle, going with whatever suited my taste and particular mood on a given sunday. I'd get up after a few short hours of sleep and a long night of Halo and say, "Cool. So where we gonna go today?"

At this time I had been playing guitar for a couple years but I was definitely a hack. Total hack. I knew a few songs and I could could play chords and strum in rhythm just fine but when it came to being creative or writing lines you could forget it. You would think the thought would cross my mind, "Hey, the Vineyard has a good worship team and they know music, why not serve with them and get to commit to a solid group of friends and believers and at the same time improve my craft, get better at guitar, and who knows, maybe even begin to write songs and lead worship?" But no, of course not. That would make way too much sense, not to mention require some responsibility.

I continued in my flaky, immature, irresponsible, church-hopping ways throughout the extent of my freshman year. However, when I became a sophomore I decided in my heart that, come what may, I was going to commit to going to the Vineyard full time and call it home. It amazes me to think back, I showed up one evening to worship practice with my gig bag and metallic red, Mexican-made, Fender Powerhouse Strat, total newbie-hack guitarist. But Adam let me on the team anyway.

A few years later, something changed. I begin to round some major corners on the guitar. Things started to sound different. Multiple people were coming up to me after church telling me how much they loved what I was playing. After this something flipped in my mind and I continued getting better and soon I started writing songs.

My point is that everything I know about music, everything I'm able to play, everything I've done consequently came simply from one thing: serving. For the first few years I never even worked very hard at guitar but regardless I made some major breakthroughs and even became a solid guitarist and it actually came from nothing more than just showing up every sunday and playing. (Sure, after I made major improvements I actually started to become serious and work and hone my talent, but the initial big jump was just from showing up and being available.) Thats it. Now, I'm a solid guitarist, I write songs, I've released a solo EP, I help lead worship at the Vineyard, I have a song on the upcoming Embers album and will probably have a song on the next one as well.

Two things: one, if I hadn't decided to commit to the Vineyard none of this would have happened and two, there is a huge part of my destiny I would have completely missed out on. At this point its hard to imagine myself void of the role that music plays in my life, being a serious musician and songwriter, but none of that would have happened if I hadn't found a place where people would not only give me a chance to serve but they would pour into me, teach me, encourage the gift, develop it, and finally, give me a platform to use it.

Serving will not only please the Lord but it will further your own skills, vision, goals, ambitions and quality of life. So grow up. Find a place. Get in there. Commit. Serve. In the end, you'll be better for it.


  1. Hello Glen.

    Pardon my using your name as if you're supposed to know who I am. My name is Ulrich and i'm a citizen of Cape Town, South Africa.

    I'm fairly sure that The Spirit has led me to this post to give me inspiration that I have been in need of for a while now. I'm very young in my rebirth and the last year has been rough in terms of adjusting my life to be holy before God.

    I used to have quite the acquired taste in films, music, graphic novels, etc. and felt that most of these things defined me. The Father, however, gave me revelation and I realized one evening that if I want to serve Him and love Him, I would have to die to myself & to this world. It was very difficult. I still find myself trying to justify (in my head) going to one of my friends and listening to the first Radiohead, Elbow, Snowden, or Deftones song I could find! And although most of those bands I used to listen to was for the most part, what i would call morally innocent...the Spirit has led me to understand that i cannot Love God AND Love the world (2 Timothy 3:1-5).

    I can almost see the frown on your forehead growing. "This guy's gonna try and preach to me or something", you must be thinking. Well, do not fret...I just wanted to share with you how, similarly to you, I have struggled to come to terms with what it is I feel I should do with my music, song-writing and guitar-playing.

    To make a very long story very short: In my asking Him, the Spirit has inspired me to start writing worship songs and music and for quite a while now. Still, I've been reluctant in committing to stepping into serving via worship at our church (seeing as how it would be 'easy' as I have been blessed to be in the position where my dad is the worship leader).

    The Spirit has encouraged me through and through an time and again and I have recently felt that I can start shedding the weight of telling myself "well, you would first need to do this and that before you'd be able to commit to worship at the church", everyday. Your post has helped me wipe out the last bit of doubt in my mind that I shouldn't be doing anything else. I know in my heart that God has called me to worship with my father and please Him so.

    The only reason I felt I should bother you with any kind of comment, is that I feel we are alike in some regards and that if we were to meet...we would have a lot to talk about. And, of course, that you would know that your words have touched me and that they have played a role in the not-so-coincidental purpose of God in my life.

    Be blessed and go well.


  2. i'm glad the blog post spoke to you, for real. as for your first point, i don't believe in separating god and art -- placing one over here and another over there. good art (i believe) honors god whether the artist means to or not because he's a creative god, he created us, and he gave us the gifts we have. creating points to a creator. i would never look at a renoir or van gogh painting and say well thats great but i can't allow myself to enjoy it because its worldly. thats just crazy. what you talk about opens a door to hectic religious kuk like.. oh if i'm sitting w/ my friend and he's showing me a new song he wrote and its not a worship song i can't enjoy it or why watch a movie unless it was a christian film. what about photography, poetry, magazine articles, literature blah blah the list goes on and on. what about you reading a rugby article or watching a cricket match? what i would call "the world" in context of the verse you used is something, whether its a tangible thing, or thought, or idea that is contrary to the lord. thats "the world." when chris martin writes a beautiful song like "the scientist" you honestly think the lord is displeased? or when those who are in christ listen to a song like "the scientist" and enjoy its beauty in both lyric and melody? no way bru. and actually, much "secular music" has often ushered me right into the presence of the lord. god is a creator, a creative one at that, and he created a creative people. and creation and the act of creating point to a creator.