You Better Know Why You Came
GospelFlava.com's Melanie Clark writes of the importance of knowing our purpose and our call, an issue that was driven home hard at the 18th Annual Stellar Awards in Atlanta.
"You better know why you came..."
That's something that has been ringing in my heart with the advent of 2003.
It was further evident this past weekend at the Stellar Awards where there was an interesting mix of attendees with a broad spectrum of attitudes and perspectives.
There seems to be a turning in the air, as the Lord prepares us for some challenges that lie ahead. There is trouble on every hand some minor discomforts, some major blow outs. Within the industry, I know of artists disenchanted with labels and labels disenchanted with artists. I know artists that don't have any money and labels that don't have any money. On all sides it seems like no one is getting enough of what they need. And much like the grumbling children of Israel, we are blaming each other instead of pressing on and calling on God as our Deliverer.
Silly competition has grown to epic proportions. And in a climate like the one we are in now, banter has no place. Of what relevance is it to ask who is the biggest, best, first and greatest, when war is looming for our country and there are battles in our homes? And I'm not talking about the Awards - I'm talking about the idle chatter and squabbles we all participate in.
Let me be clear The Awards have their place and do an excellent job of bringing the genre of gospel to a place of greater exposure. Let's continue to support their ministry and view them as a source of encouragement and edification for the work that is being done. Where we go wrong is we confuse our stamp of approval with God's. Ultimately He is concerned that He be glorified through the manifestation of His love. Awards and rewards, burn up in His presence.
Even the one I earnestly hoped to win last Saturday.
This is why having clarity of your call is increasingly necessary. As purveyors of an artistic communication, presentation and quality are important. Certainly the Lord appreciates excellence
At the close of the Stellar Award ceremony, the Shekinah Glory Ministry took the stage to deliver the closing number "Praise Is What I Do". They ministered and pandemonium broke out as they reminded us that in all situations we are to place Him above all else.
After some time spent in high worship Pastor Donnie McClurkin was given clearance from Central City Productions chief Don Jackson to continue the praise despite an expensive production clock running. God was in the building. McClurkin dared praisers to just "do what you do" and then Kirk Franklin stepped in to challenge the collective gospel industry to stop playing and get focused.
Citing a story from the book of Jonah 3:3-10, in which the King of Nineveh appealed to the people to fast in hope that the Lord might spare their great city from destruction, Franklin asked the collective audience to get on their faces before God. And so it went, the Industry executives, artists, producers, musicians, consumers, fans, and media got on our knees, tuxes and gowns and all.
And so it should be. As we all get up inside and outside the industry and prepare to continue (or begin) the work He has called us to, there must be prayer and focus. To each, a territory is assigned. You have a platform, be it in your household or to the world.
Know this you will have trouble in the space you have been assigned to work. In Job 1:7 we are told that the enemy was "roaming through the earth and going back and forth in it." And then later in the Chapter 14 we are told that man's days are few and full of trouble. This is not to paint a grisly picture of your journey, but to illustrate the seriousness of it. It is time-out for aimlessly wandering and reacting. We have to gain focus and target. Easy to say, tough to do. Again each of us has been guilty.
I have had to challenge myself (and I lose sometimes), to really study His word and hide it in my heart. So when I see my enemy prosper I know not to get weary (Ps 37:1). So when I feel heavy I know to put on a garment of praise (Isaiah 61:3). So when I face calamity I know it's working for my good (Romans 8:28). So when I fall I know He will strengthen me (1 Sam 2:4). So that when I fear, instead of cursing people, to know that He can hide me from my enemy (Ps 64:2). And when faced with something I don't agree with or don't understand to know I should love instead of judge (Proverbs 10:12, 1 Peter 4:8).
It is a tall order, and I do lose focus. But the Lord is looking for a purely motivated heart, not a perfect one.
In order for there to be restoration, there has to be a season of manifestation of the love we are to show to one another through Him. And if you don't know why you came, if you don't know why you're here, you're going to have a tough time in the days coming. Satan is busy setting traps of distraction. Surely there is disease, and pain and loss, but none greater than missing the mark of the call that He has set before us.
If you are an artist, you better know why you came, because there will be times the promoter will not have your money; there will be times your label will not do you right.
Media, you will not always get the interview, and you will say some things the wrong way.
Producers, you will not always get the credit or get paid for the credit you are given.
Musicians, you may not be recognized for your anointing or be on the album cover.
Fans, your song may not always get played and your favorite artist won't always do/wear/say what you want them to.
But the Lord promises that if we do whatever we do for an audience of one, He'll make the difference. He promises to restore us to our rightful places in Him (Job 8:6). He promises to restore our souls (Psalms 23:3) and to renew even our flesh (Job 33:25). He promises to mend our broken hearts (Psalms 147:3) and to save us when our spirit is crushed (Psalms 34:18). He is faithful even when we are not (2 Tim 2:13) and thank God for that.
We've been talking about these issues for some weeks now, here at Gospelflava.com. It seems that everyone is in a race and that many are apparently confused about what the finish line is. We've got to focus, and much like the marathon runner, pace ourselves so that we beat our own best time - not the person next to us.
It was our confirmation at the Stellar Awards that many people agree and are experiencing the same revelation. In the words of my partner James Robinson, "And we thought it was us, but some other people get it."
If you "get it", then change. Know and remember why and for Whose cause you came to the party. We are all tired, and surely the Lord is tired. It is by His grace alone that that is not the end of it.