As a leader, you want to make sure it looks like you know what you’re doing. Can I tell you about one of the (many) times I proved I have no clue what I’m doing?
I took my first full-time church staff gig at nineteen (yeah, I don’t know what they were thinking). I was on fire and passionate about leading the student ministry. And things were rocking.
Late spring, I was in Mardels, jamming to promo CDs, trying to pick what I would put in the twelve-disc player under my seat. Next to the demo stereo was the latest copy of Christians Happenings. This magazine listed and advertised all the Christian concerts and church events coming up over the next few months. I flipped through. Lots of events, but typically all the bands I wanted to see wouldn’t be coming anywhere near Arkansas. But lo and behold…Chris Tomlin was going to be two and half hours away. And best yet, it was free.
Tomlin’s Noise We Make was on repeat on that twelve disc and in my office, along with a couple burnt discs of songs from Passion courtesy of Limewire. (Thank you FREAK4JESUS74 for sharing your files.) I had never seen Tomlin but had followed him for years, having his indie releases, after hearing of him at a church camp. I so wanted to see him LIVE. I also had followed his guitarist Daniel Carson who grew up in my neck of the woods. Not only did I want to catch him in concert, but I knew my youth group needed to see him.
So, the August 10th Chris Tomlin concert went on the calendar and before my youth committee. I spent the summer indoctrinating my group to the benefit of listening to Chris Tomlin and the other Six Step crew members. “The Noise We Make,” “Be Glorified,” “We Fall Down,” “Kindness,” and “Forever” filled our worship time. I had talked the concert up and we had a big crowd going. Knowing that we were driving a long way and the concert was free and therefore would fill up, I had called a couple months ahead. The secretary told me they would reserve us a pew and it could be near the front. We were set!
On August 10th with permission slips signed, we headed out! Ready to rock!
Two and half hours. Repeated “hand checks.” And constant jamming to my burnt Passion “Better is One Day” and legal copy of “Noise We Make,” along with some POD and Lifehouse thrown in.
We arrived, my students were stoked. I was stoked. Chris Tomlin concert and we’re gonna be on the front pew. They jumped out of the van and ran towards the church, clamoring to be the first in. I walked behind them with the other youth leaders. I wasn’t phased by the church being small, I had looked it up on dial-up, and was proud of the church for hosting such an event.
The students reached the front door, but to my surprise they didn’t go in. Rather one of the girls yelled, “Brother Jake!” in a condescending tone. The crowd parted like the Red Sea, and I walked through to the front door where that girl was pointing to a sign on the door. I wasn’t worried, I knew the concert was not canceled for there were other cars in the parking lot and we could hear music.
But that poster.
That poster that would later hang in our youth room.
That poster that said, “Live in Concert: Cresten Tomlin and Family. Southern Gospel and Bluegrass.”
Yes, Cresten Tomlin.
Not Chris Tomlin.
I admit all along I had that feeling in my gut this was too good to be true. You know the feeling you get when you get offered a deal on steaks from a full-size freezer in the back bed of a Ford Ranger. Yeah that one.
But Christian Happenings clearly had, “Chris Tomlin.”
The church secretary didn’t correct me when she saved a front pew for us. I had asked about the “Chris Tomlin” concert.
We never went in the church. I guess that front pew remained empty. No offense to the Cresten Tomlin Family, but Southern Gospel wasn’t going to fix the dejection. Even slow worship tunes were a stretch for the group who would rather be headbanging to Seventh Day Slumber, POD, Pillar, or Project 86.
So, we went to Taco Bell. Yes, a five hour round trip for Taco Bell. An impressive leader, right?
But those laughs we had around Mexican pizzas and Nachos Bellgrandes were something special.
So, why did I share this story today? I guess I just felt like it. I thought it was funny. Or maybe it was because I was listening to some John Reuben. No, it was because -I thought it might be a breath of fresh air. We need that sometimes. Especially, in response to the words of Jesus, “Each day has enough trouble of its own.” I’m not sure there have been truer words used to describe our every day life.
In response Jesus replies, “Don’t worry.”
Try that. Deep breath. Chill for a moment. God’s in control.