Tuesday, July 14, 2015


I have the distinction of being the first full-time pastor for worship and music at two large churches. Both were overdue for this position—Berean because of its quick growth in less than 25 years; College Church because of its long history of outstanding music ministry.

A friend of mine in another region of the country was courted for the College Church position. It seemed a perfect match on all sides. But when it came down to standing as the candidate, George felt it was not right to do so. He demurred, and he passed along my name.

The search committee already had a lead on a guy in the Chicago area. Who just happened to be in a study cohort with me. Both he and the search committee felt that this was not going to be a good match. As Dave left the process, he suggested that they get in touch with me.

Now the search committee was curious. How was it that two  people, who did not know each other, and lived in different regions of the country, with no prior contact with College Church, would recommend the same unknown person from yet a third region?

Every position I have held since college, has come to me through—because of—someone I know recommending me. My first full-time job, my post-grad school “day job,” was offered to me by the guy who sang next to me in the church choir. Henri was also the music committee chair, and arranged for me to work part-time as the assistant to our minister of music. A friend in an influential publishing company recommended me to Berean. Two friends who would have been quite happy (and successful) at College Church, recommended me instead. This trajectory continues right to the present, with my academic work. But that ‘s a story for another time.

“It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” That rankles, doesn’t it? There are many who could have done better than I, wherever I have been. I haven’t deserved the positions I’ve had. When I pursued something “on my own,” it was a near disaster. The lesson for me has been to be faithful to what God has given me to do; do the work of networking and job hunting when necessary; and then just be surprised at what God is going to do anyway.

Your results may vary. But this is my story, and it is a story of grace.

Thirty years ago this month, I became a pastoral musician. I’m still trying to sort out all that means, and I’m still eager to fulfill that vocation, in whatever form it takes.

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