Think seriously about the following question: "Do you really believe that God has given you your musical and artistic talents?" I’m quite sure that after just a moment of consideration you would say yes. If so, I wonder how many of us would then go on to ask some additional questions of ourselves: "If God has given me this talent, WHY has He given me this talent?", and "WHAT am I to do with it?"
In Genesis 1v28 it says: "And God blessed them; and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky, and over every living thing that moves on the earth."
Here mankind is given dominion, and called to develop and utilize the resources of God’s earth. (Notice that the woman is called to share in this dominion.) The terms subdue and rule stand out in what is clearly an assignment of considerable magnitude. Since then, has God said anywhere in scripture: "Man, forget about what I told you before; the earth is no longer important. You’ve already messed it up anyway"? Of course, He has not. Even though the fall occurred, and we are in a fallen state, man’s cultural tasks and responsibilities remain.
Nothing I can think of in this life is given to us complete and finished, with no work involved on our part. There is always some effort required somewhere by someone: the food we eat, the clothes we wear, the homes we build and live in, the people we marry, the children we raise, the ministries we are involved in, etc.; ALL of it requires expended care and effort to a greater or lesser degree.
It’s no wonder then that people obtain such a sense of fulfillment, and receive much of their self-worth through their work and/or achievements. Somehow, it is a part of God’s design for mankind. Yet we are not born into the world with our potential fully realized, and ready for the tasks of adulthood. We need to be educated and taught. Our learning and development does not have to stop after our school years; in fact it’s not supposed to. Many scriptural references can be found concerning spiritual growth in the life of the Christian. God is clearly interested in seeing us grow into spiritually mature children. If God has given these musical gifts to us, then this growth and development has to include the musical for those of us so gifted.
Personally I have no doubt that the Lord has given us everything we have; life itself, along with our talents. (The only exception being sin.) Knowing this will help guard against that problem which seems to be so common amongst musicians and artists: pride. As C.S. Lewis conveyed in his ‘Screwtape Letters’, we may as well boast about the colour of our eyes or hair! (Paraphrase.) Exactly; it’s absurd to boast, for "What do you have that you did not receive?" – 1Cor.4v7
This is not only true for believers, but also for non-believers. Or do you think that God gives talent only to Christians? This view is not sound. All of us were not ‘saved’ at some point. Where did those talents come from which we had before we met Jesus? He has already given talents and potential to each one, according to His grace. When need to see both music itself, and our gifts, as being a raw material supplied by God. These musical and creative abilities require effort on our part to be developed and utilized fully. Yet it strikes me that most of us do not view God’s good and perfect gifts with anywhere near the seriousness they deserve to be given. Think about it. GOD has given us something, and we are supposed to do something with it!
There is a difference of course between a fondness for music which leads to a hobby, and the love of music which leads to being a serious life-time musician. One is content with little; the other is not. One is called of God, and must surely therefore have to give account as to how they have developed and used their gifts. I believe there is a need in the Church today, for less of those who have some kind of ministry hobby (God forbid – ministry as a hobby!), and more of those with a calling and passion!
Have a look at your situation and ask yourself: Am I called to be a musician? If you’re not sure, pray specifically about it. Get some wise counsel. Search your heart before the Lord. Philippians 2v13 says: "For it is God who is at work in you, both to will (i.e. desire) and to work for His good pleasure." Is there a deep desire in your heart for both serving the Lord, and to be a musician? Are you already pursuing your musical interests to a certain extent? If so, chances are that you could be called into some type of music ministry or career; and there are many kinds.
We have often heard testimonies about how someone has forsaken a career or studies to go to bible college/become a Pastor, etc. I don’t recall any about someone answering the call to go and study music for God’s glory. Maybe we have unconsciously accepted the prevailing view that it’s not ‘spiritual’ enough to be a musician. God only calls people to be Pastors right? I know one talented young guy whose parents simply will not allow him to study music. I’m sure they ‘appreciate’ music and would like to be thought of as culturally refined; yet they obviously look down their noses at musicians and artists! Do you believe God thinks that way about His beautiful gifts of music and art!?
Many musicians become Christians while working, and then answer the call into the ministry. This seems to be a normal route for many Christian musicians. I suggest to you that God knows what He is doing! Perhaps the Lord does it this way because His people don’t take music seriously enough. If you’re a musician at heart, with skill or serious potential, what are you doing studying engineering, or law then? Are you just playing safe? Maybe you should be studying music…
© 2001, by Bernard McDonagh
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