A couple of weeks ago at a nearby coffee shop we celebrated the release of Midnight Bloom. Weeks prior to the project wrapping up as well as on the night of the release party people kept suggesting to me how they imagined I’d be feeling. They speculated that I probably felt overjoyed, as something I’d dreamed of my whole life (or that they assumed I’d dreamed of my whole life) had finally become a reality. Others raved about how cool it must have felt to have everyone there for me, supporting me, and having the spotlight and so much attention on me. I wish I could draw you a facial expression to show how I reacted internally to those speculations. No word captures it. I was thrown off.
I was thrown off because the way they talked about it was so much about me and having attention on me. Don’t get me wrong, I’m very appreciative for all the people that drove and spent time celebrating the CD with me, but I didn’t make this CD for myself.
I didn’t make it so that I could say I finally finished a CD and put it on my wall as a trophy of my accomplishments. Anyone can make a CD, really. It’s not a big deal. And I didn’t make it so that I could feel good about myself and have people know me, love me, and fawn over me. If that ever becomes my motivation, help me, Lord, and have mercy on me. And someone, punch me…and help me get some real friends who will love me no matter what. And then punch me again.
I say this all because having grown up performing music and also from leading worship, I’ve learned that your life and motives can dangerously become about yourself, your worth, and your identity. We all want to be known and significant in some way. Spend a week studying Genesis with me and we’ll see that one of our core, God-given needs is to have significance. That need itself is not necessarily what’s bad. It becomes bad when we try to fill that need through our own methods rather than letting God show us how he will fulfill it for us.
I think many artists, writers, musicians, and up-front people have a certain temperament and desire to be known by lots of people, and that’s probably a big reason why we’re comfortable in the spotlight. But I find it ridiculously easy to twist the platform that we’re given into our medium for which people will know us and to use it to fulfill our self-focused nature. When our motivation becomes about our selves, our significance, and our worth is when I feel our hearts are treading dangerous territory. As people who are made to glorify another Being, the quality that makes us feel alive can be to our detriment because we can become utterly engrossed in how the attention makes us feel and in wanting to glorify ourselves rather than glorifying who we were actually created to glorify—Jesus.
This is true for anyone regarding anything we do and find value in. Regardless of whether you’re leading worship, singing secular songs to a crowd in a coffee shop, serving a friend, or even scrubbing a floor, when the motivation of our hearts is to get people like us, it’s never a good thing, and I think the desire to make a name for ourselves—whether in big headlines or in small ways among friends—needs to be ruthlessly rooted out of us. Otherwise, it will probably eat us alive.
On the way home from the release party, Benson asked me what my favorite part of the night was. I responded by telling him about a couple of accounts where people told me that particular songs spoke hope into them or opened up parts of their souls that had long been closed. That’s what I want from the music that comes out of me. I want it to minister healing and wholeness to others. I want it to release other people into the fullness of who they are supposed to be and how they are supposed to live.
Hold me to it. And like I said, if my motivation ever becomes about glorifying myself, punch me.