By Stephen Duncan, President of The Worship Coalition:
For every creative that wants to shift culture for God’s glory, there is the everyday battle to quiet our hearts and soak in God’s presence in a world that is constantly tugging at our time and attention. In my ten years as a professional music publisher, songwriter, worship leader, and songwriting coach, I have worked with some of the most gifted and anointed songwriters in Christian music history, like Lauren Daigle, Seth Mosley, Aaron Shust, Jason Gray, Unspoken, and Sam Tinnesz. And in all my years of coaching, I have seen such high levels of stress on the shoulders of creatives to pour out fresh, powerful content from weary souls. So I set out with my co-author, Ginger Tabot, to give Christian songwriters and creatives like you practical ways to activate your faith and engage with God through your creativity through a process that is as easy as breathing. The result is a new devotional we’ve written to help you slow down, sit at Jesus’ feet, breathe in His Word, process it in prayer, and let your creativity flow from time in His presence. As you encounter God, receive your biblical identity, purpose, creativity, authority, responsibility, and resilience, and then create and serve from your newly transformed heart, that is when your whole life will become a living hallelujah. Below are two key days from the section called, “Inhale Your Creativity.” We pray that it will equip and refresh you to creatively glorify God.
(Below is an excerpt from Inhale: A 30-Day Christian Songwriting Devotional, written by Stephen Duncan and Ginger Tabot, available at https://theworshipcoalition.org or on Amazon: https://bit.ly/inhalebook)
DAY 11 – Give God The Weight
For by him [Jesus] all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities–all things were created through him and for him. (ESV)
Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.” (ESV)
This morning you woke up in the middle of a battle between pride and fear. You may either feel motivated to take the wheel and charge forward with your good ideas, or maybe you’re asking yourself, “What am I doing with my life?” paralyzed with indecision and telling others you’re “waiting on God.” You may swing from one side to the other while trying to find a middle ground. The problem is there is no middle ground. Pride cannot be balanced with fear. Fear cannot be balanced with pride. The only way out is up—into a new level of freedom realizing that anything that should be created has already been created. The pressure is off!
Jesus created everything, including music. Every new song is created through Him and for Him. Every God-honoring idea you have comes from Jesus. Anything that you are prompted by Him to create has already been created by Him. Let go of your expectations and ideas. Come to the deep resolve that you can’t offer anything new, but you can offer it to the world in a way that they’ve never seen before. Any time that God nudges you to create a song, He’s inviting you into agreement with what He has already created but still needs to be established on earth. Wow, what an honor! What a gift! And what a responsibility it is to co-create with the Creator!
Lord, my desire is to let go of control over my creative process and take hold of Your hand to lead me. I trust that anything good that needs to be created has already been created by You. I know that apart from You, I can do nothing. So reveal any fear or pride that is causing me to resist Your leadership over my songwriting and ministry. Don’t ever let me lose the wonder and honor of being invited to establish Your kingdom on earth side by side with You.
RESPOND THROUGH SONGWRITING
Search Scripture using a concordance or online search tool, looking for “church” “bride” or “body of Christ” and find a picture of what God wants His church to look like that we don’t see now. Ask God how He wants to establish that truth through song and then write that song with Him.
DAY 12 – Working With God
1 Corinthians 15:58
Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. (ESV)
And they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. And when they had come up to Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them. (ESV)
When our work is ministry, it’s easy to believe we’ve been given a license to walk through every open door with Jesus’ name on it. But even one of the most motivated Christians in all of history was prohibited by God from charting his own course in the name of the Gospel. The Apostle Paul was zealous in fulfilling the Great Commission on his missionary journeys and passionate about fulfilling his calling to spread the gospel to the Gentiles and the ends of the earth. But there were times when the Spirit actually restrained Paul from new opportunities to spread the gospel. Paul understood that he had to be completely obedient to walking WITH the Lord moment by moment in order to follow on the heels of Jesus and stay in step with the Spirit, so that his ministry could bear fruit. Paul knew something profound that we tend to overlook: no matter how good our labor is, no matter how hard we work for God, our work will always be done in vain unless it is done IN the Lord.
Gleaning from Paul’s experience, here are two warnings to heed in the process of creating:
1. Even though you’re compelled to share the good news of the gospel, avoid the temptation to carry His banner without HIM. By taking His name into places that He has not authorized, you are ultimately taking His name in vain. For example, you may be thinking that your latest worship song is so God-honoring that it must be published and heard, but have you prayed about it? Is God nudging and confirming that in your heart and through others or are you simply charging forward without His leading?
2. The world is always demanding and asking for something new, and in their pursuit of new, they miss out on engaging with God. By creating FOR God and not WITH God, the world misses out on EXPERIENCING God. But when you create WITH God, the world expe- riences God.
Lord, I want the world to experience the fullness of You. Even though I feel the pull of the world asking me to create, my first desire is to be close to You – immovable and steadfast, always abounding in the work that You want done. Search my heart and see if there is any offensive way in me that resists Your leadership, and expose any pride that has been driving me to charge forward without You.
RESPOND THROUGH SONGWRITING
Find a song where you’ve been charging forward in self-reliance, passionately writing FOR God, but not WITH God, and bring it to the Lord in prayer. Invite Him into the rewrite process to impose His will and desires into the song.
Don’t miss the opportunity to engage with God through your creativity! If you are enjoying this devotional and would like to find out more about the Inhale devotional or our coaching services for worship leaders and songwriters, please visit: https://theworshipcoalition.org.