Let me start with this. I am beginning to write this at 1:36am. I am tired but I have all these thoughts running through my head that I want to share with you. Forgive me if my thoughts are not as clear as normal ….. which frankly aren’t all that clear to begin with lol.
About 1 year ago, I stopped serving at my church completely. I was beat, tired and frustrated. I had my reasonings behind it and I had great conversations with leadership, but I will leave that between me, them, and the people that I vent to when I probably should keep things to myself (whoops). When I stopped serving at the church, I knew I would probably look for a new church closer to home. At the time my church was 40 minutes one way (no traffic), and it made it difficult to be a part of small groups or participate in special events. Finding a church closer to home seemed like the right decision, but I had my reservations. I moved out to California on my own, and this church family was the closest thing I had out here. What would it look like when I am not around anymore? When you first meet me, it is pretty easy to see that I am an introvert. I like my space, and I don’t mind being on my own especially when it comes to being creative. It is not my first instinct to just text or call someone out of the blue for no reason. Nowadays I think my friends just wish I would just shut up at times lol. Things change when I get comfortable around you. However being an introvert, I can honestly admit that I have let a lot of friendships slip in the past. I hate seeing updates from old friends on Instagram, Facebook, etc and remembering how close we used to be. So I knew this time around needed to be different, and I was determined not to let that happen again.
When I first stepped down, I made it a point to begin setting aside time for my friends. I began initiating more conversations and pushing to spend real quality time together. I made these friendships a higher priority then I had in the past. Around that same time, I got the opportunity to serve with a few friends and their churches. Both are smaller churches, one being a church plant. Helping in these two churches brought back a lot of memories growing up in a small church and helping start a church plant (before it later imploded). Serving with them has been a true blessing, but not for the way I expected. Coming from a church that has a lot of perks, professional musicians, and high end gear, I honestly thought I would get frustrated going back to the minimalist worship environment. I am not going to say I never get frustrated by that, but this time was different. I have several very close friends leading these ministries, and I wanted to support them. There is something truly special about going to battle with your friends in ministry. It forces you to prioritize what matters. The reality is yes I would love to crank my amp up to 11, run stereo, or even run a wet/dry/wet setup, and I’m sorry to break this to you fellow guitar players (and I’m also speaking to myself here), but stereo amps don’t save people. Guitar solos don’t save people. JESUS SAVES PEOPLE. I know my friends are leading these ministries with the intent that their roles as worship leaders can help lead people to Jesus. There is no greater calling then the Great Commission and I want to support that calling.
So over this last year, between prioritizing time with my friends and serving alongside these ministries, I have seen such a change. For the first time, I can honestly say I am actively investing in friendships. Friends that could have just been “we served on the worship team together” are now some of the closest friends I’ve ever had. This all probably seems like a pretty straight forward idea right? Invest in your friendships and become closer friends. Crazy how that works, but here is my big point. Over the last who knows how many years, I have been building my network. I have gone out of my way to “connect” with people because I figured that connection could pay off one day. In the real world side of it, yes it could, but for me I have found it to be unhealthy. Living in Los Angeles, so many people are guarded because they think everyone is trying to use them to make it big. Sadly they are right to be skeptical, because it happens way too often. Today I still try to connect with others, but I am pushing myself to make ACTIVE connections.. I don’t want the superficial “I may need a favor one day” relationship. I want something real. When I need help or support, I want people by my side that will battle with me. I want people that will be there when things go wrong. I want people there that help me grow as a believer in Christ, a man, and then a musician. At the end of the day, streams, gigs, and $$ are temporary, but the relationships and moments I have with those I hold closest can last a lifetime. It sounds so simple, but it is an important lesson to learn, and one I wish I learned a long time ago.