Back in the day, I considered myself a bit of an expert on U2.
I had all the albums (including a few bootlegs), I read all the books, watched all the videos. These days, due to either the pace of my day-to-day life or the possible decline in quality music from U2 (my opinion,) I'm less up to date on them. I still love their music and am always excited to see what they'll do next.
I like The Unforgettable Fire. I like the Joshua Tree. I actually love Rattle and Hum. But truth be told, those records were a little before my time. To find where U2's music most drastically impacted my life, look no further than Acthung Baby! and Zooropa. Yes, you heard me. I love Zooropa.
That's why I was so surprised to discover this book earlier today at a bargain book store: U2: AT THE END OF THE WORLD by Bill Flanagan. A book chronicling those two albums and corresponding tours was a no brainer for me. I bought it and have been reading it all day! Some of it is a rehash of stories made famous among U2 fans, but there's a whole bunch of stuff I'd never heard.
This quote from Bono struck a chord:
"If you realize that this friction makes you smarter, quicker, and tougher, then it's surely wise to stick with it. But if you want an easy life, if you're happy with your lot, if you see success as your goal, it's over. I've had this out with various members of the band, as you know, and, I'll be honest, with Ali (Bono's wife)." - pg. 24
There's truth in what he's saying. Hardship, struggle, relentless scheduling - all of those can, and do, make you a stronger musician. Those circumstance consistently breed creativity and courage.
There's also a lie in there somewhere. A lie that many of us swallowed way back when. Worship leading isn't "being in a band." It's not a performing arts career. It's something way different than that, but many of us don't catch the lie.
The lie, by the way, isn't that you should avoid conflict or hard work or relational friction. The lie is that having a 'happy life' is the opposite of creative progress. This one quote caps off a good five pages of interviews wherein the band admits to sacrificing family life and peace-at-home at the altar of creative pursuit.
Two things we need to remember, worship leaders.
1. YOU DON'T HAVE TO BE CREATIVE
I'm serious. Take some of the pressure off yourself. You can lead faithfully week after week, loving your people and leading them well and NEVER write a song or plan a unique service. This job isn't about coming up with the best stuff...it's about helping people sing, pray, remember and adore. I know it's hard to believe that when everything you see is about some church or famous Christian who's releasing another album or book. Don't be fooled by that. Focus on faithfulness, not ingenuity.
2. GOD IS CREATIVE
But here's the good news. God likes creativity. He's a Creator...no, THE Creator. It's simple math, really. If God is creative (and He is) and God is all powerful (which He is) then He can build awesome things through your creativity without drama. You don't need friction to honor God with something bold and creative. Yes, He can bring amazing things out of times of distress, but it's not a prerequisite. He'll do amazing things through You when he wants to. Not a second sooner.
Keep serving, keep working and don't believe the lies the world tells you! Faithfulness! Faithfulness!