Wynona Judd has had
quite a ride in her forty-one years of life, and in her recent
memoir – Coming Home to Myself – she reveals both
the agonies and ecstasies of the journey. In a sense, Wynona has
spent most of her life trying to find herself. It came together
in her 2004 tour titled “Herstory: Scenes from a Lifetime.”
Her record label decided to film a DVD of the two hour show and
release it. She expressed the purpose of the night like this:
“I’m going to celebrate what I am instead of being
consumed with what I’m not. I’m going to show up and
wait for God to walk through the room.”
On the night of the filming, everyone she cared about was there
and she was understandably tense. Alone in the dressing room,
scenes from her life kept flashing before her. Her reverie was
interrupted by a voice, calling her by her real name. “Hello,
Christina,” he said. It was her lifetime friend –
Don Potter. He walked over to her and put his arms around her
and said: “Do not worry tonight. You are the instrument.
Let the Lord play you.”
That can be said about each of us every time we stand up to preach.
“You are the instrument. Let the Lord play you.” In
other words, the quality of spiritual music played through our
sermons is not just determined by our understanding of the cultural
context in which we live or by our empathy with the congregation
to whom the sermons are delivered. The pastoral context is also
determinative. We are the instrument the Lord plays in communicating
his word through the words of our sermon. Consequently, each of
us should be passionate about being the best possible instrument
for God to play. But how can we become a fit instrument for God’s
Perhaps Jesus’ growth pattern as described in the profound
summary in Luke 2:52 is a fitting paradigm for us to consider
as we think about becoming fit instruments for God’s service.
The only information the Gospel writers provide of the approximately
eighteen years between Jesus’ encounter with the teachers
in the temple and the inauguration of his ministry, is the classic
commentary about Jesus most of us learned as children in Vacation
Bible School: “And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and
in favor with God and men” (Lk 2:52).
So how can we bring all of these different dimensions of development
together in our lives? How can we demonstrate the quality of life
Jesus demonstrated? The answer is BALANCE.
Back in 2001, Jim Collins produced a bestselling business book
titled Good to Great in which he identifies the key ingredients
that enabled 11 special companies to experience sustained success
over a period of 15 years. Jim Collins caught my attention, not
just with these keys, but with an intriguing phrase. Collins commended
what he called the “genius of AND.” “The genius
of AND” is the ability to embrace both extremes on a number
of dimensions at the same time. In other words, instead of choosing
A or B, we figure out how to have A and B.
One of the most important discoveries in life for the preacher
who wants to be a fit instrument for God’s service is to
discover “the genius of AND” – to recognize
that we must develop ourselves intellectually and physically and
spiritually and socially.
Now this is a demanding undertaking because each of these dimensions
can be all absorbing, like a giant sink hole that sucks us under
and engulfs our lives. Yet, all dimensions must be developed if
we are to become fit instruments for God’s service.