Sometimes when I’m singing there are these transcendent moments of fully expressing myself in my giftings and everything in the universe clicks into place. And it’s so natural for me to think,
“I was MADE for this!”.
But my perspective completely changed, as it often does, after I sat down with my dad about a month ago to talk about how expressing my personal dreams and goals might intersect within our church’s Missional Communities.
Now, my understanding of what a missional community is, is still growing and I’m sure will change, as all visionary plans are moving targets with their own life cycles (see the Teach Me page). But I’ll take a stab at describing them. A Missional Community at Navah Church KC is a group of friends who intentionally get to know each other’s stories, pray together, eat meals together, serve our communities and neighborhoods and try to live out what the church of Acts might look like today. My dad coached the church into this M.C. idea in the last year and we are slowly growing these communities at the pace of relationship. As I said, the process is slow. But roots that go down deep can support a strong tree that will bear much fruit. So we are rooting our relationships with the Trinity and with each other at a natural pace. [Hit the link above to learn more on M.C.’s from the Navah website.]
So back to, “I was MADE to sing!” I asked my dad if there might be two missional communities that I’d connect to. One relationship-first and with a missional focus towards my neighborhood or whatever that becomes, and one with a focus on expressing my dream of using my musical gifts with other musicians and worshipers.
He surprised me by challenging the notion that my individual dream or goal is the best use of my giftings, or will be the most fulfilling thing to pursue in my life. He explained that this “But I was born to do this.” feeling is a very culturally western and individualistic idea. We played out the scenario big picture. If I pursued the idea that I was MADE to sing as the fulfilling force and driving purpose of my life, what would it do to my family? Would my relationships and every other thing be subject to that gift? It seemed like a good path to a broken sad life. By the end of our conversation I was realizing that “I was made for this.” is a small perspective and a bad starting point to answer the age old, “what should I be doing that will fulfill and bring meaning and purpose to my life? Are there things I was put on this planet to do? ” I think turning 30 has also turned up the pressure I feel from these kind of repeating questions.
Now I’m the first to say it is important to know and recognize how beautifully unique God has made each of us (see Read Me). In fact, (ha! of course I know this..) seeing “individualization” is one of my top 5 Strengths on the Strength Finders quiz. But through this conversation I am coming to realize that our talents are called “gifts”not only because they were given to us as presents from the Father, but because they are to be given away in service and as a blessing to others. If all of the worshipers got together and were not serving each M.C. it would be monocultural.
The opposite of a monoculture is a permaculture. Wikipedia says, “Permaculture is a philosophy of working with, rather than against nature; of protracted and thoughtful observation rather than protracted and thoughtless labor; and of looking at plants and animals in all their functions, rather than treating any area as a single product system…..The focus of permaculture, therefore, is not on each separate element, but rather on the relationships created among elements by the way they are placed together; the whole becoming greater than the sum of its parts.”
This is the vision of a Missional Community. Each one bringing their unique gifts to the table to be celebrated and brought with full love thy neighbor as yourself, kingdom-come, submission and service.
“I was made to sing.” has turned into,
“I was made for relationship with God.” and,
“I was made to worship and encounter God, and serve others when I sing.”
That feels like the right place for my gifts to land. They don’t own me. I don’t owe them. But they serve and edify all when they are given as freely as they were received.
Well, that’s it for now. And as always, I’d love to hear what you’ve learned about these things. Let’s continue the conversation and keep learning together.
[featured photo is of my mother at her potter’s wheel]