Recently Katrina and I had the privilege to visit Muskoka Woods and lead worship at a Meeting House retreat for their youth. It was an amazing, beautiful weekend. We made new connections, worshipped Jesus, and hung out with some of our closest friends who happened to be our bandmates! While at the retreat, God started a conversation with me about the idea of measuring.
Here’s a bit of context: Katrina and I hadn’t led worship together outside of our local church context in a while. I didn’t realize how different this situation would be. After the first two worship sets I was feeling a little bit off about the whole thing. I was juxtaposing the worship experiences with a set of expectations I had in my own head. Whether it was the fact that there weren’t a lot of raised hands or engaged-looking faces, I couldn’t put my finger on it, so I asked the Holy Spirit, “Why is it that I’m feeling this way?” Almost immediately I felt Him say back to me, “You need to stop using your method of measuring everything.” So I asked, “Then how do you want me to measure?” and this is when it hit me hard: He said back to me, “Why do you need to measure at all?” It was such a moment of clarity, of conviction. God wasn’t asking me to measure; it seemed almost as if He hadn’t been measuring anything. Now why is this such a big deal?
The Holy Spirit said back to me, “Why do you need to measure at all?”
I grew up in church. I never had a “rebellious” phase. I was a “good” kid that read his Bible and prayed and continued to grow in love for God. But I was a measurer. Everything in my spiritual life was constantly being measured: How much did I read today? How many hours have I prayed this week? How many church services have I been to? How much have I served? How many times have I gone to the secret place? Everything had to be a quantity. My whole spiritual walk was under intense scrutiny and measurement. If something didn’t seem to be enough, I would beat myself up and resolve to try harder, or be better in that area. This was exactly what I was doing at the retreat. I was measuring the worship sets and trying to figure out how I could be better. How can I lead better? How can I worship more passionately? How can I pastor people more deeply? If I’m better at this, He will be happier with me.
In His kindness, God was uprooting in me the lie that He is more pleased if I do more. To be honest, I don’t have shame about it but it is a bit hard for me to admit that because I know this is an area that I’ve experienced much freedom in. It is true that God has done a huge work in me in this area over the last couple years, and I believe that this is one of the last remaining roots of religion in my life.
This is what I want to share: God is the most amazing, kind, loving, selfless and proud Papa you could ever imagine. He’s even better than you could imagine. When I lead worship, He isn’t measuring how many notes I hit or didn’t hit. He’s not sizing up my ability to lead people or worship. The truth about God is that He enjoys me. He not only loves me, but He likes me. He’s in it for the relationship. On my worst day and on my best He’s enjoying me, and His desire is that I don’t spend my time worrying about measuring up but enjoying the love that He freely gives without me having to perform for it.
…for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.
The thing about God is that He is the one with the power to make us like Christ. He gave us the Holy Spirit to teach us about Jesus and transform us into His likeness. I’m not an advocate for ignoring the spiritual disciplines but I know that God isn’t measuring my success or waiting for me to fail. He is proud of me. When I stay connected to Him in relationship and remain in Him, (as Jesus talks about in John 15,) it’s from that place of connection and relationship with God that I will do far more than I ever could measuring my success and striving to be better.