Mountain Tops and Muddy Boots

3 comments Written on October 16th, 2011     
Filed under: Better Together, Leadership, Local Church
Today’s post was written by Geoff Twigg, Adjunct Professor at North Park University in Chicago. Geoff is a pastor, singer/songwriter, worship leader and ministry consultant and serves the ECC as a member of the denomination’s Commission on Worship.

At the end of a Summer School for Worship Leaders some years ago, my friend Robin addressed the delegates: “For most of you this has been a mountain top experience, a rare event – and you don’t really want it to end; but don’t forget… nothing grows at the top of the mountain. If you want to see people growing in Christ, being discipled and deepening their devotion, you need to put your boots on and get to work in the valley.”

I’ve never forgotten his words, or the way they impressed me that day. As it had been for many of my friends, the week at London School of Theology had been a powerful experience for me, and I wanted to remain in the moment. I was even prepared to believe that this was where I was ‘supposed to be’… a high and holy moment where I felt close to my calling and to the God who called me. Robin was right; I needed to ‘put my boots on’ and get back to the practical work at home.

Worship leaders are, necessarily, worshippers.

Worship leaders are, necessarily, worshippers. We want and need to spend time in close fellowship with God. When we lead, our attitude of worship is more caught than taught, and no command or coercion ever works as well as leading by example. However, our intimacy with our Lord is not an escape or an exile from the task of bringing God’s kingdom to the world. We are sent from his side to be ambassadors for Christ, fueled by the strength he imparts and enthusiastic to obey his calling.
In our online notes this week, we were discussing “how do I come down from the mountain top experience?” and a couple of wise old heads suggested that sabbath rest, exercise and self-care are important for leaders who have done a thorough job of work.
I think they’re right… but my main point would be that the aim of our encounter with God is not the experience, to be enjoyed and then ‘come down’ from… the aim, rather, is to be inspired, renewed and sent out once again into a world of need.

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3 comments “Mountain Tops and Muddy Boots”

What a great intersection of ideas!  First, the idea that it’s in the places we don’t have a view that the real growth happens (possibly those places make the mountain top that much more beautiful?) … but then also that we are sent FROM mountaintop experiences as much as we are sent TO them.  A while back I read a book that talked about how it’s in suffering (in the valley) that we can grow the most, that we become better disciples, better people.  I say “can” because not everybody chooses to let that happen.

I hope it’s not too bold, but I’d say that this doesn’t just apply to worship leaders, but to ANY worshipper …

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Thanks, Chris. I, too, have heard the ‘suffering’ philosophy… and sometimes it begins to suggest that believers who have suffered or are going thorugh serious medical issues become somehow more devoted or improved – super-Christians. Such teaching taken to that extent is dangerous and wrong; but I agree that we do tend to grow, or have opportunity to grow, as you put it “where we don’t have a view”.
There’s also that lovely anaolgy that I do have a view when I’m with God on the mountain top – and that in the dark valley I can only trust in God’s direction.

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Thanks for this excellent reminder, Geoff. You’re sharing something very similar to Oswald Chambers, who writes: “We are not built for mountains; they are for moments of inspiration, that is all. One is taken there only to go down afterwards in the demon-possessed valley, where we are meant to live and lift up those who are down. We are built for the valley, for the ordinary stuff of life, and this is where we have to prove our mettle. If we cannot live in the demon-possessed valley, our Christianity is only an abstraction.” This is one of my favorite quotes, and I use it often in ministry when people seem to be clamoring for emotional “highs” (often brought on through music) and need to be reminded where the real “stuff” of faith happens, as you so well put it: “the aim, rather, is to be inspired, renewed and sent out once again into a world of need.”

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