"Blooming Where You're Planted"
Assuming you like the pastor at your home church and feel he is doing a good job ministering to your local congregation, what would you think of him if suddenly he disclosed that, after years in a "minor league" church, he was now ready for the "big time" and felt he should be in a big church somewhere, maybe even on national TV each week?
"Paul, what kind of a question is that?"
Well, the point is that a lot of Gospel singers act like that (fictional) pastor. They are singing locally, people are being blessed, but they feel like maybe they should really be on the national concert circuit. Like, maybe, next week.
What got me thinking about this was a comment by Reva Hoskins of the Hoskins Family heard on our program some years ago. I had mentioned to them their extraordinary successes with charting songs that year. Reva's response to a question about why this might be happening was interesting: "You know, Paul, we've worked in our home church all of our lives and my dad was the pastor. And I thought that we would always work in our home church, except to go out occasionally and minister in song because we'd always done that.
"We had a dream and a vision of being able to travel and doing it on a more full-time basis. But for many years it just wasn't what God wanted and we knew that, and we stayed faithful to the home church. And then when God let us have our time of being faithful to Him in what He wanted us to do – not what we wanted to do – I think He rewarded us for our faithfulness."
They put the matter in God's hands, and, when He was ready (or, more to the point, when He felt they were ready) He opened the doors.
Over the years, I asked many of the artists I've interviewed what advice they would give to someone who'd like to be a traveling Southern Gospel artist. The most common response I get is some tremendously practical advice: "Be sure that's where God wants you."
Mark Lowry gave us this advice to pass along: "Grow where you're planted! Everybody wants to graduate from college and join the Vocal Band. It just doesn't work like that. You grow where you're planted. Be faithful in the little things and let God multiply it. If you live your life going from church to church [locally] and you have this ache in your heart to have a record contract and you never get it, you will have wasted your life longing for something that you never attained instead of being happy where you are. ‘Happy' is being where God has placed you. So I tell everybody, wherever God has planted you, grow there first and if it spreads like wildfire, God bless you."
Local ministries, after all, are extremely important, as Clacey Williams, who sang with the Gospel Harmony Boys, once told us: "I think the local groups that work within [their home areas] just have an opportunity for a tremendous ministry if, in reality, they work that properly and they keep their lives and their perspective with the Lord. That local group has a tremendous opportunity for a ministry -- and maybe even more so than a national group. They can get more on a personal level with the people [than can national groups who appear once in an area and then are gone]."
What's the key word in the examples above? "Faithfulness." Reva Hoskins says they feel God rewarded them for their many years of faithfulness locally. Mark Lowry says "be faithful in the little things and let God reward it."
If you have a local musical ministry and dream of taking it "national" at some point, place it in God's hands. Be faithful. If it's His will, He will give you the desires of your heart (Psalm 37:4). But remember that He may have a much more effective ministry for you in your home area. At least for now.
(PS: There's an application here for any kind of ministry you're performing locally, not just for singers.)
(Note: this Epistle first appeared in December, 2002.)