My Journey with Church Music // God's Grace for Our Mistakes
As I have pondered and wrestled with personal questions I’ve had and lies I’ve believed about music ministry – searching for answers and Bible verses, dying to have the perfect aha moment, waiting for comfort and encouragement to steer me in the right direction – I have learned a couple of things about God’s grace for our mistakes.
First and foremost, I realized that God gives gifts out of sheer grace. I think that sometimes we feel like we deserve them. After all, if we accept Christ as our Savior and recognize that our new calling is to glorify God, we kind of feel the necessity for a spiritual gift in which to carry out our calling in a specific way.
Girls, God is under no such entitlement to give us gifts. He could have left us totally void of any talent and ability. We are sinful human beings deserving of the worst punishment. To be saved from eternal destruction is a marvelous gift in itself, of which we are totally undeserving. What right have we to demand anything further from our Savior? Although we can desire spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 14:1, 12), expecting them to fall into our lap is an entirely different thing.
But yet, God loved us so much that He continued to pour out the riches of His kindness by bestowing upon us unique gifts and abilities! Our response to this should be overflowing thankfulness. It is an honor to have special God-given abilities!
“Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given unto us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith;” – Romans 12:6 (KJV)
I am usually very hard on myself when I feel like I have in some way failed; whether that means doing worse than I was hoping, not measuring up to the professional, or making a tiny mistake. In Algebra 1, I remember bursting into tears because I got a 98% on a chapter review. Although this score was way above my normal (I will be honest: I am not a math person!), I was so mad at myself because I missed getting a perfect score by making just one, teeny tiny little miscalculation. So I turned into a drama queen and ate myself up about it.
That is the perfect example of what NOT to do when you make a mistake. :) Mistakes are a natural part of life and they make you human. And do you know what? People like people who make an occasional mistake. It proves that they are imperfect like everyone else.
I once heard an excellent pianist start an accompaniment in the wrong key. She had to stop and restart so the other musicians would not be thrown off. Another amazing professional pianist was accompanying and flipped two pages instead of one, missing a key change. I recently heard a well-respected composer make a mistake while playing his own arrangement. And you know what? I respected them even more because of it! They proclaimed to everyone that they were just as imperfect as the next person. No amount of training or practice could guarantee a flawless exposition. They are still human and still subject to making mistakes.
Too often, I have eaten myself up over piano mistakes. Whether it was a memory lapse, or having to drop the left hand out for a couple measures, or an awkward page turn, or timing mistakes, or a thousand wrong notes… I wasn’t very happy with myself!
But do you know what? The same God who gave us gifts out of grace sustains those gifts with His grace.
I have had to remind myself of this truth time and time again. God didn’t promise us that our gifts would bring perfection. He knew that we’d still make mistakes despite our talent. He prepared us a storehouse of unending grace to cover our imperfections. He encourages us to keep using our gifts even when they don’t bring perfection.
When I fail, thoughts such as these go through my head:
I can’t do this right, so I should stop playing piano altogether.
I am completely unqualified to be doing this.
So-and-so is better, so why don’t they just do all the music?
But the truth is, God doesn’t measure based on our performance. If He did, I still would have yet to sit on our church’s piano bench. I don’t play for church because I’m the only pianist; I play because God has asked me to serve Him alongside others in the church music ministry. Man may judge according to the outside, but God sees the heart.
The bottom line is, if God has called us, we have to obey. It doesn’t matter how good or flawless we are. God will give us the grace to do what He has asked, and if we make a mistake, He gives us grace for that too. If we simply do what He calls us to do, He will take care of everything else.
Next time you make a mistake, humbly accept God’s grace. Don’t pressure yourself to perfection and then have a dramatic meltdown when you don’t achieve it. Acknowledge your humanity, do your best through God’s strength, and continue even when you mess up.
I’d love to know…
Do you struggle with accepting grace when you make mistakes?
How has God taught you humility through mistakes?