Early in my ministry, I was invited to lead worship at a nursing home as their Friday afternoon entertainment.
I had only been leading worship for a few weeks and I felt as though I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. Plus, I was convinced I was about to sing for people who were probably going to ignore me, fall asleep, feel annoyed the songs weren’t familiar, or a combination of all three.
“Oh my gosh. Why on earth did I say yes to this?!”
Aside from having a bad attitude, I was wrong and oh, how much that experience has taught me.
I walked in and saw a gorgeous baby grand piano possessing a beautiful tone. They had a microphone set up for me and told me to start whenever I was ready.
I gave one last look around the room and closed my eyes, finally deciding to give this experience a chance.
“Okay God. If this is what you want me to do today, I’ll try my best.”
As soon as I touched the first key, the residents around the dinning hall stopped what they were doing and started moving their wheelchairs closer, while others began sitting up straighter in their chairs or finding a seat close to the piano.
By the end of the fourth song, a few of them were beginning to sing with me, some clapping, while others tapped their hands on the armrest of their chairs.
When I was finished, I sat and chatted with them. Some told me stories of their life, while others spoke of how they used to sing at church when they were younger.
Too many said they were lonely and that I was the first visitor they’d had in a very long time.
Lesson #1: We don’t have to be perfect for God to use us.
None of us are perfect.
God never expects us to be.
What He does ask of us is that we remain faithful and obedient in every circumstance, allowing Him to work through our weaknesses…even if it doesn’t make sense at the time.
9 But he (Jesus) said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. ~2 Corinthians 12:9-10
Lesson #2: Being a good steward of our abilities mean using them out in the world, in addition to our church services.
Too many times, we forget that our spiritual gifts, talents, abilities, and resources are for working together to advance the Kingdom of God in and outside of our churches.
10 Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. ~1 Peter 4:10
The early church was originally designed to be outward focused (reaching the lost) just as much as inward focused (discipleship).
A healthy church body will do both well and consistently.
Lesson #3: Never underestimate the power of the Holy Spirit to move in unlikely places and in unexpected ways.
God asked me to use my gifts that day to reach elderly residents, nurses, and doctors with songs of hope, praise, and thankfulness.
In spite of being under qualified, completely unsure of why I was even there, and in a place where I wouldn’t normally go to look for a revival…God used the mustard seed of faith and obedience I offered up, to reach uncharted hearts and minister to the lonely and neglected.
I almost allowed my bad attitude to keep me from showing the love of Jesus.
The residents of that nursing home and the nurses attending them matter to God, so they should matter to me.
36 When he (Jesus) saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38 Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” ~Matthew 9:36-38
When we walk outside of our homes or leave the comfort of our church services, do we have compassion on the people we see? Do we really?
Are we willing to be obedient and faithful with our time, gifts, and our attitudes, even when He is asking us to use them in an unexpected place?
I hope I’ll never forget the hugs I received or the sweet people I met that day.
And, I hope I’ll never forget that God always has a reason and a plan for what He is asking of me.