In 2001 I had been serving as president for one of the older, more established labels in the industry for a couple of years. In January of that year, its owner made the decision to close it down without notice to me, the staff or the roster. Don’t worry, this isn’t going to be one of those “the industry is in terrible shape and everyone is getting laid off” blogs. (as true as that might be!). In fact, looking back, it was probably the right business decision for the corporation that owned the label at that time.
The point is that it was an incredibly tough, emotional thing for me to experience. By God’s grace, it was the first time something like that had ever happened to me, and as much support as I’m sure there was around me, I felt very alone, ashamed and afraid.
About a week after the announcement, I was on my way home from somewhere when Dianne called and asked if I would pick something up at the grocery store. As I was standing in the isle searching for the item, I heard a voice from out of nowhere. It was clear and convincing. “You’re not going to be able to afford food for your kids”. I felt my stomach turn and my knees weaken. Then again… “you don’t have a job and your kids are going to go hungry”.
So what was this voice and where did it come from? The source of “the voice” is attributed to many different areas by many different people. Author Seth Godin calls it “the lizard brain”. Some call it “the resistance”. Some don’t call it anything other than their own mind… in other words, their own internal voice.
Personally, in so many instances throughout my life, I attribute the voice to that of the enemy of my soul… call him whatever you will… satan, the devil, or as Christians often refer to him… “the enemy”. Regardless of where you come down theologically, one would be hard pressed to read the Bible and deny that the voice has been plaguing God’s people since the garden.
So was I possessed by the devil for a moment in the grocery store that day? I don’t believe so. But I do believe that the entire agenda of my spiritual enemy is to deceive and tempt me away from faith in my loving creator, and in whatever way he can, to keep me from being all that God is calling me to do and be. To be disobedient. To make my own way. To sin.
In this particular case, I believe he was taking advantage of a very vulnerable time in my life to create a new level of distrust and disbelief in a Heavenly Father who had promised He would never leave me nor forsake me.
The voice has been particularly hard to deal with in my creative life, and the areas of my life where I have had opportunities to lead and influence. I have rarely finished a song, a recording, a presentation, or even a prayer, that I wasn’t beaten up by the voice’s indictment of my motive and the awful result of my shameful attempt.
I don’t like to think about the creative areas or places of leadership opportunity that I never stepped into, or never completed, simply because the voice won the battle for it.
In my work with Christian artists over the years, I don’t know that I’ve seen any more single destructive force in their lives and work than their buying in to whatever the voice was saying to them. And of course, most of them (most of us) aren’t aware enough in the moment to attribute the voice to it’s rightful source, which I believe, rewards the enemy all the more and sucks us in deeper and deeper into the deception.
The voice says a lot of the same things to most of us.
“You don’t have what it takes”.
“You are inadequate and unworthy. You’re a hypocrite”.
“You can’t do it because someone could find out who you really are”.
“You should be ashamed that you ever tried”.
“This isn’t worth the emotional pain”.
“He/she/they are already doing this much better than you ever could”.
Or in general, as in the grocery isle that day, “you can’t trust God to keep His promises’.
In my next blog, I’ll talk about some of the ways I’ve learned to better deal with the voice in my life. But for this one, I’d love to hear some of your stories. Please comment. What are the places in your life where the voice is keeping you from walking into your gifts and calling?
What song isn’t being finished?
What initiative isn’t being taken?
What difficult conversation should have happened a long time ago?
What work that only you can create is going unexposed to the world?
Why can’t you risk trusting? Loving? Forgiving?
How is the voice stopping you?