You are necessary.
There's a reason for you. A purpose.
It doesn't matter how many mistakes you make or what kind of voice people say you have. It doesn't matter that you look at that stage and you see that it's full. Don't tell yourself that there's no room for you. There's plenty of room for you in the world. It's a very wide world. And you are created to do something unique within a context all your own.
God made you.
The producers of American Idol did not make you.
That person you're feeling jealous of? They did not make you.
That nay-sayer who told you to sing in the back row because you're not what they think is right? They did not make you.
They did not knit you together in your mother's womb.
I work in a public school and don't have a way to speak to my students quite so bluntly, but I say as much as I'm able . . .
Examples of the things I want their heads to be filled with:
"Nobody is exactly like you. There's a place in the world that can only be filled by someone like you . . . and you're the only one!"
"Keep at it. Keep working on that skill. Keep nurturing that talent. Don't try to be just like your favorite singer. Try to be like the singer that you are. Your favorite singer can never be just like you. You're the only one."
"Don't be scared because your buddies are good at all sorts of things. Don't let it make you jealous. Don't let it harden your heart and change your attitude. Be happy for them. And then be happy for yourself - you can do stuff that none of them can do! Or maybe you can do the same thing . . . but you do it differently . . . like only you can do it."
"Don't be scared about the fact that you're different. You. Are. Amazing. You amaze me. You are cared for and believed in. I see you. I'm proud of you. You're listened to and recognized. You're loved. My classroom wouldn't be the same without you. Our choir wouldn't be as good without your voice. We need you. We want you to be here."
I think it's a huge cultural problem.
I'm not telling you to stop watching the talent-based TV shows you like so much.
But I am suggesting that in our schools, our homes . . . . our churches . . . . we allow people who are different to go unheard and unloved because they aren't the "right" kind of talented.
Of course, I see things from a musical perspective. It's the head space I'm in these days.
I think about conversations I've had. Do you know that many people have suggested to me that folks with less musical talent should just not sing ever???????
It has been suggested to me that folks who aren't naturally "gifted" in music shouldn't be encouraged to study it - even for fun.
Hey - if we're too quiet, the rocks are going to stand up and yell at God FOR us. And that's not ideal, is it?
I don't know what to say to my students or even the singers I coach when they tell me stories about the discouragement they feel from others.
News Flash: We're not necessary and purposeful because we're perfect. We're necessary because God is creative. We're purposeful because God gives us purpose. We don't get to take it away from each other. We don't get to declare it over someone.
God will pass up a gifted public speaker and reach straight for the guy with the stutter - and it will be the stutterer who leads an entire race of people out of captivity.
God's not messing around.
"But you can't tell everybody that they're going to be a rock star, can you? Because that would be a lie!"
That's not everybody's destiny.
Most of my students will participate in music casually as young adults. Only a few will pursue it seriously.
But can I tell you some of the most loving advice I ever received? It's my favorite example from real life.
I was about to go to graduate school and I was deciding what to make my major instrument. A major instrument in graduate school is something that's really going to live in a pressure cooker for a while, so it's got to be something you can take criticism with. It's got to be something you know how to practice efficiently. It needs to stand up to the stress.
I wanted to play the piano.
And I'd been playing for a long time.
But my technique was shaky and my sight reading was still very slow for my age and level.
So my teacher did something so compassionate. She spoke honestly with me about my comfortable options. And she helped me to choose one. She suggested that I consider continuing lessons, but allowing my voice to be my area of focus in grad school.
Back up now. Did she tell me to quit?
Did she tell me I was the worst?
Did she embarrass me?
Did she tell me I could never do anything with it?
She asked me to be realistic. And because she was compassionate, I was able to be realistic without feeling ashamed. Because she encouraged me reasonably, I was able to learn more and progress at a pace fitting my situation.
I'm a lot better at the piano these days than I was then. She helped me to do that.
A long string of people have discouraged my singing - even the songwriting.
They have often meant well.
They don't want me to be embarrassed or hurt.
They're afraid I won't fit in - and . . . . I DON'T!!!! I don't fit in almost anywhere. And guess what?
I love it. I love being the odd ball. I love being different and daring and off beat. I love to push boundaries with my poetry. I enjoy shaking up social structure with tunes about justice and peace. And I'm ok with the fact that I'm not Hill Song. I'm not ever, ever, ever going to play on a main stream Christian radio station. And it's kind of awesome.
You know what helps? Some odd ball people have taken time along the way to remind me that God doesn't mess around. He plants hope in our hearts that will drive us to action.
The world is not too full. There's room for you.
There are people somewhere who need you. God already knows all about them.
Don't let the world tell you who you are.
The world didn't make you.
God made you.