Yesterday at church, the person in front of me turned around and introduced himself to me after worship. He told me that I had “such a beautiful voice”. Per usual, I looked down and muttered thank you with a small smile. I’ve had this happen more times than I can count since I was young – people complimenting me on my voice, or random strangers hugging me and informing me that I’ve been given a gift from the Lord. (In all honesty, I don’t think it has as much to do with my voice than my volume… I’ve always been known for my projection.)
I hate this, mainly because there’s still a part of my heart that soars every time. You see, singing was my identity from a young age. I performed everywhere I could, trained with some incredible musicians and teachers, and recorded with phenomenal producers; singing was my life. I couldn’t forsee doing anything else with my future aside from becoming a country singer. “Sami Lee” was going to be the next Reba McEntire or Carrie Underwood.
Then, life happened, and I left the spotlight for what was initially meant to be a temporary leave of absence. I left the music world and was stripped of my identity (so I thought). At sixteen, I met Jesus, and began to reconstruct my life. However, there was always this fear tucked away in the back of my heart that this new identity wouldn’t be enough. I knew Whose I was, but I didn’t know what I would do; I was a performer both on and off the stage, and I couldn’t separate who I was from what I did. This fearful mentality stayed with me through college, and I completely gave up music. The more I learned about the Lord and fell in love with Him, the more afraid I became of music because I knew that it was the greatest idol in my life. This broke my heart on a daily basis; I loved to sing, but felt that I couldn’t let myself do it for fear that I would let it become my identity.
At 21, I discovered my love for leading worship; I realized that people were less concerned with me and more concerned with the One we were singing to. This completely rocked my world, because I found a way to reconcile the pieces of my heart without fear of forgetting where my identity truly lies. The past few years have been spent leading worship and teaching young women how to lead, and it’s been more life-giving than I ever imagined. (I think the Lord knows better than to allow me lead worship to large congregations, at least for now.)
I’m a Moses, not a David.
The Lord used forty years in the wilderness to strip Moses of everything he knew and everything that competed for his affections. God stripped him of his power, his influence, and his platform in order to call him to Himself. Then, in an incredible fashion, God called Moses back to leadership in the “burning bush commission”. Moses’ reaction?
God, do You remember who I am? I’m murderer! Do You remember where I am? I’m living in the wilderness – I have no resources to accomplish this! Do You remember the last time I tried to lead? I obviously don’t have the talent or ability to lead others! Please send someone else! (Exodus 3 – 4:17)
Moses was afraid. Stripped of all that he had ever known, he couldn’t fathom going back and trying to bring justice for his people again… Didn’t God remember the disaster he created the last time he tried to do this? Why would God put stock in someone who had failed before? But, God had the perfect position for Moses:
Moses was going to be a leader, but not in a glamorous palace, looking down on the people. Moses was going to be the leader walking amongst the people. His time of refinement in the wilderness prepared him to lead IN the wilderness.
Moses was not like King David (the second king of Israel). Though both are incredible pillars of the faith whom we admire, study, and strive to imitate today, their leadership platforms were wildly different. David’s peak of leadership landed him on the throne; Moses’ sphere of influence consisted of roughing it in the wilderness for forty years with over a million people who had never lived on their on before. David commanded, and the people obeyed; Moses repeated what he heard from the Lord, and the people complained. David held all authority; Moses was the conduit between the people and the True Authority. David’s time in the wasteland led him to the royal tower; Moses’ desert season led him right back to the wilderness.
I’m a Moses, not a David.
God knows that my pride is too great and I would not be able to faithfully steward such a lofty position in the limelight. Instead, I get the incredible privilege of walking alongside young people, teaching and training, rather than looking down on them from a stage. I don’t receive applause or sign autographs anymore, and yet I get to use my gifts in such a fulfilling way than ever before. God recreated me in my own wilderness season so that I could spend my life leading others through their deserts.
I was created for the wilderness, not the spotlight, and I could not be more grateful.