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Way down in the background

By Gerry Lewis | Published Wednesday, February 27, 2013

I played my bass guitar with the worship team at church on Sunday. That may not seem like a big deal, but it was to me.

It was the first time I have played it since October 2010, and it was the first time I have played during Sunday worship in my home church since May of 2008.

It was also my first Sunday back in church since my carpal/cubital tunnel surgeries on my left hand a couple of weeks ago. So it really was special for me.

In 2006 I had just completed my 15th year as senior pastor of Eagle Mountain Baptist Church. Our church’s most recent bass player had graduated from high school and was going off to college, and there was no one ready to be the next one in line.

After having had that instrument as part of our music ministry for the previous eight years or so I really missed it. There is something special about that deep, sustaining foundation undergirding the other instruments. Since I had been playing guitar for about 35 years I decided I could make the move to the bass.

It was pretty much love at first play. I probably have more pure fun playing it than anything else I play. In the background, I can play around with all sorts of ways to support what’s happening up front. I’ve never been interested in giving up my other instruments and certainly the bass has its limitations. I have performed and accompanied worship playing only the piano or guitar, but I’m pretty sure I never will do so with only the bass. At least not more than once.

All that said, Sunday was fun. But it was more than that. I am humbled by the grace of God. On day 12 after hand surgery, the hour of rehearsal and 20 minutes of playing in the service left my hand was fatigued and sore. That serves as a reminder of all my frailties. I am not unlimited in my abilities or my energy.

I am further reminded that the only service I can offer God comes as a direct result of His goodness in having given me my hands, my abilities, my passions and my opportunities.

I am also reminded of the importance of service that appears in the background and supports the efforts of others. Much of my ministry has been spent as the “front man” – the preacher, soloist, worship leader, speaker, teacher. All my gifts are not the public ones, but those have had plenty of opportunities to be on display.

But in the background have always been those whose support has steadily provided the foundation for all the things up front. As my ministry has shifted from always being the out-front leader to more and more being the background supporter, facilitator and encourager, I am embracing the opportunity to provide that foundation for others.

And I am finding that I am having a lot of fun.

Dr. Gerry Lewis is director of missions for the Harvest Baptist Association, which is headquartered in Decatur. He writes a blog at www.lifematterstoday.blogspot.com.

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