The first time I got up to the mic to sing my voice cracked. I was on a choir tour with my church youth group, and we were at a park somewhere in East Fort Lauderdale, FL. The girl who was suppose to sing got sick, so they called me in for back-up. I played guitar in the youth band, and I also enjoyed singing, but we had about four to five girls who sang with the band and I guess I felt like six was a crowd. So I sang in my bedroom to The Cranberries and Gwen Stefani and never told anybody.
Until that day. I was offered the chance to sing the solo part and I willingly agreed. I can’t remember the song, but I remember that it was a breezy, partly cloudy morning with about fifty of us high school kids on risers and the same number of park goers below us. I was a little nervous and excited all at the same time. I could tell with the first phrase out of my mouth that I probably was in for a crash landing. I came out strong…too strong, and it was like I was building up to something only to squeak the last phrase out like a thirteen-year old boy. I blushed. I was glad that the solo was over so I could go back to my place at the back of the risers. By the way, it is impossible to hide on risers unless they mistakenly place the short kid in the back behind the tall kid in the middle. I was on the top row at the right end, and there was no one tall enough to hide me.
I reflect on this memory from time to time to remind myself that failure is not the last chapter of the story. After that choir tour I continued to sing, mostly in my bedroom, but I sang nevertheless. One night while staring at my guitar I asked God that if He would give me the opportunity then I would serve Him with music. I almost left my guitar at my parent’s house before I left for college. There was this shame factor that I carried with me where I felt like I wasn’t good enough, so why bother trying? I grabbed my guitar, nestled it in my red Dodge Neon between bags and boxes of my belongings and hit the road for my freshman year.
I was asked to sing again, but on a worship team. I sang in both my college and in my church, and I loved it. Almost every week I was leading worship somewhere, and I developed some wonderful friendships through that experience. I gained confidence along with a new beginning. Eventually, I got a job to work in youth ministry as a worship leader, and I sang with the worship team at the church there as well. After college I decided to grow in my knowledge and skills of music and theology, so I went to The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary where I received my Master of Arts in Worship. I auditioned for the Seminary Choir and was selected after my first try out. I took voice lessons to improve as a singer and went on to sing some difficult pieces of music that I would never have imagined myself attempting to sing. In my last year of seminary I received a call from the Vice Principal of Miami Christian School asking me if I would be interested in being their Voice Performance instructor in the next school year. I took the job….and loved it. I still led worship at a church in Miami from time to time, but I discovered a love for kids and teaching that I would not have known had not that Vice Principal from Miami Christian called me. Failure is not the last chapter of the story.
I say all this to say that if there is something that you are passionate about- a dream or a vision burning inside of you- don’t let discouragement defeat you. When we fail it feels like the end, but maybe it is just the beginning. Stay focused on your mission, and give credence to your dream- it is not by accident that you are wired for something. We all bear the image of God and His people are His workmanship (see Genesis 1 and Ephesians 2). Discouragement will come, you can bet on it, but don’t let it slow you down. Instead, use it as a catapult to move you deeper into your dream. Make any necessary changes, work hard, and enjoy the journey. Your mission is worth it!