Singing...or Singing FOR THE LORD?

by - 1:17 PM

I love to sing. 

When I was young, I was heavy into the choir scene.  You know the type - in my church's adult choir every Sunday morning, at youth choir every Sunday night, joined the extracurricular show choir at school, starting singing solos in front of my local congregation, etc.  And I was a soprano...because that's what all good girls were.  Sopranos. High ones, at that!  In fact, I remember practicing in my room with Mariah Carey (the ultimate high soprano!) blaring on the boombox, thinking I sounded SO smooth when I could hit her notes or nail her runs.

I even started college as a music major.  Granted, flute was my main instrument, but the track did afford me the ability to take some formal voice lessons as well.  I was thrilled.  BEYOND thrilled.  I could finally move a step beyond just mimicking my informal teachers on the radio!

But then I learned that "singing" and "singing for the Lord" are two different things entirely.

When I came home that summer, I jumped right back into the music life at my local church.  But this time, I was challenged.  Challenged to sing in my "chest voice."  Now, you may not be familiar with the different voices we have...but there is a "chest voice" (or your regular talking voice) and a "head voice" (falsetto...think the Bee Gees' "Stayin' Alive").  Remember, for all those teenage years I had been a high soprano.  And that's what I thought I was supposed to be.  Until I was challenged.

I was challenged to be who God made me to be.  I have a low talking voice.  It should naturally follow that I have a low singing voice.  This may not be a big deal to you, but it was an eye-openingly HUGE deal to me.  God really convicted me that I had been trying all those years to be something that I wasn't.  [And it was not lost on me that this conviction applied to more areas than just singing...though I am choosing to focus on that aspect in this post.]

Anyway, I starting embracing my lower register and my new identity as an alto.  That had always kinda' been a dirty word to me before.  Alto.  AL-TOW.  A guy named AL TOWin' something really massive.

Okay, okay.  But if any of you ladies out there grew up in choir, you may have thought the same thing.  Like the altos were the hefty girls who built up the base of the cheer pyramid or something.  Like they were girls and all...but they sounded like dudes because God hadn't blessed them with the quality pipes.  Anyway, my original view had clearly been skewed.

As I embraced who God had made me to be, I also started realizing that the performance-based church culture I had grown up in was totally bogus.  I was convicted that I had put too much time into perfecting my "sound" and too little time into actually considering the God I was claiming to sing to.  I had simply been "singing."  But it was time to begin "singing for the Lord." 

We should be in the business of making much of Jesus and making less of ourselves.

So how does this apply to those of you who are not into music?  Well first, are you making much of Jesus?  Or are you making much of yourself?  In any arena!

You know, selfishness and pride seem to be at the root of most our sinful behaviors.  For we esteem ourselves above others...and worst of all - above God.

For me, this challenge to make much of Jesus can be applied to SO much more than church music.  But when I do apply it there, I challenge myself not to have that old performance-based mindset.  This means that if I do end up singing a solo, I don't practice for hours in preparation.  And I try to sing songs that I have to accompany with my own feeble piano or guitar-playing skills.  That way, I stay humble...even a little shaky.  Of course, I want to give God my best and to strive to serve Him with excellence.  But I also know that my heart is sinful, and everything within me strives to make myself big instead of making God big.  So when I lead worship or sing in front of others at church, I want to be wholeheartedly praising God.  Singing FOR THE LORD.  Not just "singing."  And I want the congregation to be praising God alongside me.  I don't want them to praising me for anything I'm doing.  I am not praiseworthy.  HE is.

So how does this apply to you?  Is there something you could be using more "for the Lord" than for yourself?  Feel free to leave a comment below!

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