The Indirect Effect of Joel Osteen

Joel OsteenA few weeks ago, Cretia and I recorded the Oprah Next Chapter interview with Pastor Joel Osteen. Something we really wanted to see, but with the kids and all, sometimes we have to “watch it later”. :-) So we recorded the show and tonight, a good three weeks later, I sat down to watch it, finally.

It was wonderful.

You know how you gravitate to a certain person and how they act, how they are, their demeanor and persona? I guess we all have someone or “someones” we admire. Well, Joel has long-been one of those people for me.

I remember, before my mom died, she used to talk about him and how wonderful he was and what a great thing he was doing and how he should be an inspiration to me, as a “younger” man. And he was. (Although not quite to the enamored extent my mother saw it.)

But he’s always seemed to be “above reproach”, you know. Some one to look up to, as a person and of course, as a Christian. And that’s both inspiring and un-nerving, at the same time. But…I’m rambling, aren’t I…?

Anyway, while watching Oprah and Joel, I was struck by something he said. Oprah asked about LakewoodLakewood Church Church and talked about how it’s in many ways a business. A big business. An organization with a very complex process. And it is. And Pastor Osteen agreed.

Then the kicker, for me. He said something to the effect of “We wanted to have the best people available, to make sure we gave things every opportunity to happen the way they should.”

And that struck me. It convicted me, actually. Hard.

For almost exactly two years now, I’ve been leading worship at our home church of Corner-Stone Church. And it goes well some weeks. Others, it doesn’t. Sometimes it “flows” and sometimes it’s honestly, somewhat of a train wreck. And I take full responsibility for those fluctuations. But it’s always bothered me that our music time, our worship time, is inconsistent.

And tonight, I realized…it’s me. I’m not just responsible for the less than stellar outcome, but I’m the cause, many times. More specifically, my lack of preparation is the cause. My lack of focused purpose is the cause.

I believe, with all humility, that God has been very gracious to me, with the gift and love of music. He has not only given me the desire to sing but in many ways, the talent to do it, usually, with relative ease. (Not always, but in a lot of ways.) He’s spoiled me with His blessing, and the gift of learning quickly and jumping without a parachute. It always just kind of “came to me”. And most of the time, it works.

And I’ve let it make me lazy and…lackadaisical, to sum it up in a word.

Ricky Fitzpatrick 40WattFor a lot of years, I know I squandered that gift away in bars and clubs, writing and performing music that were anything but an honor to Him. But those years also encouraged me to adapt and change quickly. To learn to wing it, to change up…on the fly, if needed. To book a gig in a moment’s notice and learn the set after I got there. And improvising, I believed, was just a part of being a musician. Most of the time, I was perfectly content to just do the set on my own and just go with it. And if you were a part of the band and couldn’t follow me, then that was your lack of ability to roll with it.

And I’ve been letting, for two years, that mindset become the way I’ve conducted our music at church. Wing it, go with it, figure it out and play off any unexpected problems to the old adage of “Well, God doesn’t need a flawless performance to speak to someone in a song”.

How…foolish of me. How clueless could I possibly be?

No CompromisePastor Osteen drove home a point to me tonight. And that point being, that God expects…no, demands our very best. He wants us to put the best people in place, in order to give His earthly plans every opportunity to succeed. And how careless of me, to think that it was OK to disrespect Him by coming in, unprepared, to worship with our Church family, and shuffle the blame off on Him when it bombed.

Granted, does God need me to deliver a seamless rendition of our worship songs? Of course not. But does He expect and fully deserve my very best efforts to give that? Absolutely.

I just want to say to Pastor Joel, “thank you”. For not pulling the punch. And thank you God for using a recorded interview from a man whom I may never meet, making a comment that had nothing directly, to do with me, to spur me on to a deeper commitment to serve You. And to my church family at Corner-Stone, my heartfelt apologies for taking you and God’s time of worship, so lightly.

Never again. No more “playing church”. Starting today, I recommit myself to a more mature and purposed position in my duties and in my place as a grateful and graciously delivered child of our Father. God forgive us…forgive me…for leaving You so far out of the picture.

I think I’m looking forward to this Sunday!


Prayer: God, help me to realize what a great importance You have placed in my actions and my contributions, in Your grand plans. Not that You can’t accomplish Your purpose without me, but that You have chosen me and placed me in a position of honor within the Body of Christ. You have called me, not just to labor, but to show myself as a good laborer, so that I might bring honor to You in the work that I put my hands to. May I never dishonor You with a lackluster effort in the things You have called me to do! Amen.


Scripture: Colossians 3:23 – For whatsoever you do, do it with your whole heart, as unto God, and not for men.

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