Lessons In A Choir Robe


Lessons In A Choir Robe

When I first moved to Nashville as an aspiring songwriter/producer, nothing motivated me more than the thought of having a PLATFORM for my music. I dreamed about it, talked about it with friends, stayed up late, and rose early in hopes to “outwork” the next music guy. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to share this platform with others; I just didn’t want someone else to take MY spot.

As a disclaimer, I genuinely love music and enjoy being creative. So I would write songs and make music even if no one ever heard them. But if I’m being honest, I loved the idea of people celebrating what I created even more than the process of creating it. Oh yeah, and I loved the idea of notoriety, money, and everything that comes along with celebrated creativity. 

Shortly after arriving in Nashville, I connected with an Every Nation church and was approached by one of the pastors to join a discipleship group. I reluctantly agreed and began to meet with him and my roommates at an ungodly hour of the morning. During one of our meetings, the pastor suggested that we all join the choir since we were musicians.

I remember thinking to myself: “That is the most ridiculous suggestion I’ve ever heard. There’s no way I’m wearing a choir robe in front of 1,000 people I don’t know.”

It was definitely not the platform I was looking for.

After months of dodging the worship pastor and ignoring the request of my discipleship group leader, I gave up and finally joined the choir. I served in the choir for a number of years and found that God was slowly changing my concept of what a “platform” was.

I got married a couple years later and started a family. At this point, music had taken a back seat to making disciples, developing leaders, and being a good husband and father. I had officially sacrificed my musical dreams for the sake of family life and ministry. I came to grips with the fact that maybe my songs would never be heard. It hurt me, but I knew my soul was better for it.

One day, I got a call from my best friend who was working as a songwriter in Los Angeles, California. He shared with me that he was working on a project for a big gospel music artist but they were struggling to find “one more song.” It just so happened that I had started writing something that morning so I sent him what I had and didn’t think much about it.

Several months later, he delivered the news that it made the cut. Our song would be on the album. I couldn’t believe it…the biggest recording of my career, and it only took ten years, thousands of work hours, and utter humiliation in a choir robe for it to happen.

Since then, I’ve been blessed to contribute to several other commercially released projects many of which have completely taken me by surprise.

Here’s what I learned: God wants to give you a platform, but only if you are willing to surrender yours.

In Mark 10:17-27, Jesus has a conversation with a rich young guy about the greatest platform — eternity. Here’s what Jesus said to him in verse 21, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” In other words, “get rid of your platform, and I will give you mine.” What Jesus said was simple but not easy. Unfortunately, this guy was unwilling to give up his empire.

The greatest platform any of us could possibly attain will be the one upon which we stand and hear God say, “Well done.”

Justin Gray (Every Nation)


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