I remember one of the first times I led worship in front of a group of people. It was probably around a hundred people or so, but I was pretty nervous. I didn’t think I was nervous, but I was. I was to lead a song called “I See The Lord” and it felt like it was a big moment for me.
The time rolled around in the set for me to start off the song and I went into it with everything I had. I started playing the first measures of the song and I think I even started to sing. I wasn’t sure if everything was going right but I was too nervous to care. The girl leading with me leaned up to the mic and looked at me and said, “Uh, Jonathan… you’re playing the wrong song.”
You see, there are two different songs called “I See The Lord.” One of them is fast with a very aggressive strum pattern, while the other is slow and right in the pocket. The slow one was what we were supposed to play; I was playing the one that we weren’t playing that morning. I was really embarrassed. But I learned 2 important lessons from that day: First, I have to learn to manage myself before I can lead others; second, I will always make mistakes when I step out into something new.
No one can eliminate failure. Whenever you try new things, you are bound to mess up sometime. I experienced that firsthand that day. But hey, look at the bright side, I failed but I failed big. I went all out, but I was wrong. Ever had that happen? But I made a decision in that moment: I can either get swallowed up within myself and never try anything again, or be ok with myself and keep going. I chose the second and it’s a great lesson no matter what season of life you’re in.
Let me give you some good news: You don’t have to be perfect. The point is not getting it right the first time (although that’s nice when it happens!). You have to be willing to make mistakes and learn from them if you ever want to get better.
No one ever “arrives” and has it all figured out. Even though I have led worship for over a decade now, I still have such a long way to go. I’m so far from where I need to be. Personally I still make the dumbest mistakes sometimes, things that are flat out embarrassing. This isn’t where I live (because too much focus on my faults freezes growth too), but it tells me that I have more to learn, more to clean up, more to do better. It keeps me humble.
Thomas Edison tried over one thousand different light bulbs before he arrived at one that worked. When asked how he dealt with all that failure he replied, “It wasn’t failure. I was learning how not to make a light bulb.” Choosing to be a lifetime learner opens you up to a never-ending possibility for greater growth and greater influence; it also means you’re never off the hook. You have no excuse to be stagnant.
That’s what I want, and I hope you do too. Keep growing and keep trying. Think of anyone you admire in any field who is now successful. If you could have seen them when they started, or at different places along their journey, your would doubt that they could ever become anything. But I guarantee that they were faced with failure and chose to keep going and not quit. So, my friend, keep going and don’t give up.
“We shall reap a harvest if we faint not.” Gal. 6:9