It’s official. I will be teaching music at Lynwood Elementary this upcoming year. We actually start a week from Monday.

To be honest, this has been a tough move for me. As I’ve written in a previous post, I do not see myself as an elementary music teacher. Ironically enough, this is what I spent so much of my university time preparing to do. I trained to do K-12 instrumental and vocal. I spent a lot of time working with the Indianapolis Childrens Choir and almost planned on going to Hungary to study music.

How that all got changed is another post for another time.

There is a part of me that is excited about the musical side of this job. I like music and I’ve missed a more hands-on interaction, musically, with my students. The part of me that doesn’t like it is the part that doesn’t know what to do with elementary students.

I really am open to appreciating and even liking this job. I bet it can’t have nearly the same kind of drama that I’ve experienced with middle school and high school!

I’ve has such great help preparing for the job too! I went back to a teacher that I worked with back in my university days. He took a day to come quite a distance to help me out even though we hadn’t talked for almost ten years. Thanks Andy! One of my professor’s, Dr. Penny Dimmick, also spent a day working with me. She loaned out many of her materials so that I could re-familiarize myself with music for elementary children.

Where will all of this lead? I don’t know. I’ve spent a lot of time praying, whining, agonizing, and struggling over this decision. In all of this there is a bit of peacefulness that I am doing the right thing.

I don’t get it, but one thing I know. Come Monday morning the students arrive and I will give them the best musical experience of which I am capable.

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Today I finished my tenure at Decatur Middle School, where I taught general music for nine years. I love my job! I love the relationships that have been developed with the staff. Over this period of time I have also come to realize that I love middle school students too.

What does one accumulate in nine years? A bunch of junk! However, I’m good!!! I fit it all into 7 boxes. I get home, rather proud of my 7 boxes, and tell my wife. What was her response? “So where do we put seven boxes?” Go figure, I just can’t win.

What do I do next? Honestly, I don’t know.

Fortunately, I do have a job at an elementary school but I’m not sure if I have the same passion for that age group. I anticipate trying to find another job as either a music teacher or working with a church in youth or music ministry.

Please pray for me in this time of transition.

Jim Martin, over at his blog recently wrote a post on vocation. He raised some really good questions and I decided to go on and leave a comment there. After thinking about it further I decided that it was worthy of its own post. Here are some of my thoughts about this.

For the believer, there tends to be a disconnect between vocation as ministry and church as ministry. I would even go as far to include “life” as ministry. When people ask me, I respond that I am in ministry full-time. I am married with a family and I teach full-time in a public middle school. In addition to that I am a youth director at a church.

Admittedly, I get some weird looks when I say that but I can’t help but understand life that way when I look at 1 Corinthians 3:16 and see that we are God’s temple. Then I look at Colossians 3:17 & 3:23 and see that we are representing Jesus in all we say and do.

And for the ones who wonder what vocational ministers do all day I have them look at Ephesians 4:11, 12. Our role is to equip people to live life as ministry. Maybe it’s simplistic but I show them the Bible (youth and adults alike) and I ask if they will allow themselves to be transformed by God’s Word.

How do you look at life? Do you see it as ministry? Would life look differently if we viewed every action, every meeting, every conversation, or every person as an opportunity to minister?

Do you ever wonder if you miss out on what God wants because you are too busy with life? This just might help. I often challenge the youth I work with at church and school to view everything through this same lens.

I ask them questions like:

How does your music reflect who you serve (in other words, it might not be all about you)?

Or, how do you choose your relationships?

How do you spend your free time (or your money)?

What do you watch or read? Why does it matter?

How are you preparing for the future?

When we consider all areas of our life as ministry I believe we come closer to what God intends for us in service to Him. Then we don’t have to worry about what we’re going to do for a living or what our “calling” is. On the other hand, we do have to be concerned that every area of life reflect our love for the God we serve. That is a monumental responsibility and privilege.

Are you up to it?

Recently I’ve been struggling with being “content.” I’ve been trying to decide if that is a good thing or not.

Is it a good thing to want something different? I believe we were created for something great. To what extent should we pursue that?

When do we stop and allow ourselves to rest?

What does it look like to pursue what we were created for?

If you know me, it will probably come as no surprise to you that I love what I do. I love being a teacher and a coach. I enjoy my subject material (music) and I absolutely love teaching, hanging out with, talking to, and even disciplining the students. I value and respect them. I have an opportunity, like few others do, to shape and mold hearts. However, like tennis, the sport I coach, it only lasts for a short season. Then they move on. That’s when I wonder how much lasting influence I really have.

Of course, there’s my position as youth director at Grace Evangelical Church. I’ve been there for almost 8 years serving with primarily the youth and some with the music. We’ve seen both the church and the youth grow. We’ve seen some of our youth head off into ministry (and some the other direction). I love being at GEC. I wouldn’t trade my time there for much of anything else.

These are the things I am wired for. I have no doubt about that. I see both of these positions as something God has created me to do. I realize they both have their ups and downs but what job doesn’t? In spite of that I love what I do!!!

Here’s the rub… if you know me you’ll know that I often feel a little overwhelmed with the responsibilities of both positions and my family. My family will remain first so that leaves me to ask how long I can sustain both jobs.

I do not feel led to leave what I’m doing currently but I do have lots of questions. Would I have more influence in a full-time youth position? Would my family benefit from me being in one job? Am I wired to function in a full-time youth ministry setting? Is there something else out there that will better suit me? Should I be proactive or am I supposed to just be content and allow things to happen?

Is my pursuit of contentment selfish? Could I be pursuing a bad contentment? Is it even right to be pursuing this kind of contentment in the midst of war? According to the Bible we know that we are in a battle:

“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8 ESV).”

“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places (Ephesians 6:12 ESV).”

Is this something that is given to me as a distraction? To tell the truth, I don’t know. I do know, though, that I need to be watchful and sober-minded. The mind can be quite a battle ground. My mind reflects my heart. The best way to protect the mind and the heart is through the Word of God, guided by the Holy Spirit.

Let me say again, with joy, I love what I do! That’s what makes these kinds of questions so difficult to answer.

What struggles have you had with questions like that? What conclusions have you come to?

Through great thing through all of this is that God remains faithful. Will you?