Monday, August 22, 2016

A good reminder from a blues festival

Each year our small Indiana community hosts a two-day Blues Festival that brings thousands of people to listen to some great blues music and enjoy some wonderful barbecue. Nine acts play over the two-day event. Local acts open up each day, and some of them are very talented. Each following act typically is better known leading up to the headliner who closes the show each night. We've been blessed to have some of the biggest names in blues music play in this event.

I attend both days each year. If you buy your wristband early it only costs $20.00 and comes with $10.00 worth of food coupons. To hear nine acts of the quality who come to this event for $10.00 is an incredible value.

This year one of the earlier acts made several references to their inability to crack the big time. They never came right out and complained, but they made a few comments that showed their frustration. While they were good I could tell them some of the reasons why I thought they had not enjoyed the success they desired.

One of the biggest reasons, IMHO, is that they are trying to be something they aren't. They sang several songs they had written and covered some others from other groups. Almost every group does that, but I think the better ones stay away from covering songs that are strongly identified with major performers. This group covered a song that is a classic by a well-known singer now deceased. Their attempt paled in comparison to the original which, I felt, detracted from the talent they do have. They would have been much better off to have stayed with their own compositions.

Ministers can fall into the same trap. I've heard pastors who tried very hard to sound like well-known ministers. They even sounded out some of their words like their hero. When Rick Warren became so well-known I heard a ministry leader in Kentucky say he had never seen so many preachers in that state wearing Hawaiian shirts and going without socks. He made the point that what might work in Southern California doesn't necessarily fit in other parts of the country.

God has not called us to copy other ministers. He's called us to be us. God does not want me to be Billy Graham, John Piper or Rick Warren. He wants me to be me. He created me, and if he wanted me different he would have created me to be different. The same is true for you. Yes, we are to be continually growing and developing new skills, but at the core he wants to use us as we were created.

When I resigned my church in 2001 I told the congregation that their new pastor would not preach like I did nor would he or she pastor or do anything else exactly like I did. If God wanted another me there, he would not have led me to resign. A new pastor with new gifts and skill sets was needed to come in, and my gifts and skill sets were needed elsewhere. If we try to be something we aren't we will only frustrate God's purpose for our ministry.

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