BackTalk: A Higher Calling
We aren’t just sound guys, we’re ministry leaders. Ministry can be difficult work, but it’s something we must engage with.
Growing up I would spend every summer at the Bible conference in Okoboji, Iowa. I had a lot of fun and I learned how to bootstrap a production system. My brother and I quickly became “in charge” of the tech at a young age but had no real budget to work with. We’d drive up to Okoboji, set up shop, and produce a conference with whatever we could get our hands on. Even though the production value may not have been high, the relationship value was significant. When you share those types of experiences with people you become very close. For a few years it was just my brother and me, but as our responsibilities grew, we needed another partner in crime. I knew the perfect person: Drew Billings.Drew was a friend of my brother at the time. We all grew up together in church. And Drew was talented enough to make a huge impact and crazy enough to actually drive to the middle of Iowa every summer and produce this obscure conference we loved. It was over those years, primarily in high school, I came to be so close to Drew.Fast forward to my first few months as technical director at Christ Community Church in Omaha, Neb. I was the only on-staff technical person, and the task was tremendous. Leadership generously agreed to hire an assistant TD and, once again, I knew exactly who to call. Drew attended the church and volunteered on the tech team. I met him on the stage one Sunday after services as he was wrapping cables. “Drew,” I said, “I know what you’re capable of here. I’ve got a tough road ahead of me and I need you with me.” That was all he needed to hear. I was so excited because I knew our potential was off the charts.Three months later Drew was very late to work. I called him but didn’t get an answer. I had just seen him at rehearsal the previous night. Later that day I would come to find that Drew had passed away in his sleep of a very rare heart condition. I’d love to tell you how I felt the moment I heard, but I honestly don’t remember. I just went blank for a few minutes. I rushed to his house and was thrust in the middle of grieving family. I remember thinking, “This is not what I signed up for, God!” His family was looking to me for prayer. “Me,” I thought, “why me?” I was just the sound system guy, and I was hurting a lot too. I was devastated. I even remember thinking, “I should probably call a pastor.”After the shock wore off. After I stopped crying. After I found my way home. After I took a very long shower. I prayed on my own. I remember being struck with the thought, “I’m in ministry now.” I wasn’t just the sound system guy anymore—I was the pastor.Ministry is all about people and relationships. It’s about praying with the grieving family, meeting with the hurting volunteer, staying late to chat with a lonely camera operator, or any number of similar things. As technical leaders in the church it’s what we signed up for. I’ve been convicted about spending the time to develop my spiritual skills and leadership skills just as I develop my technical skills. Ministry can by difficult work, but it’s something we must engage with.We aren’t just sound guys, we’re ministry leaders.
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