I began learning the piano at a young age. After struggling through years of music theory worksheets, classical music pieces and crazy chromatic scales, I eventually passed my ABRSM Grade 8 piano with merit when I was 15 and joined the church’s worship team and youth choir (to my mum’s delight!). Saturdays were soon filled with worship and youth choir practices.
One Sunday morning, when it was my worship team’s turn to serve, my fingers slipped, landing on a bunch of piano keys I wasn’t supposed to play. Later, I forgot to play the repeat chorus which the worship leader had planned. “Noooooo!!!!” I silently screamed, as the church congregation sang on.
I felt horrible for messing things up for my worship team, and wondered if anyone was put off by my mistakes that day. I wished I could disappear and escape any potential feedback from the church members. But when the service ended, no one came forward to point out my mistakes. Things seemed normal as usual. Maybe I was too harsh on myself. Maybe I was too self-conscious. Then I realised I had lost my focus. I had forgotten that my piano playing was neither about me, nor a perfect performance, but about offering my gift to serve the Audience of One and His people, to bring Him the greatest glory.
God is the masterful Creator who intricately designed us to reflect His image. He is also our Heavenly Father who gives each of His children various gifts and talents to glorify Him. We know through the Bible narratives that God anointed Moses with the gift of leadership to rescue the people of Israel out of slavery in Egypt. God then put skill and intelligence in Israel’s craftsmen to design gold artisan pieces and wood carvings for His tabernacle. God also showered Miriam and David with the gift of music, to compose songs of praise and worship. He gave Solomon the gift of wisdom, which equipped him to administer justice among God’s people. In the New Testament, God gave Aquila and Priscilla the gift of hospitality, which they practised by opening their home to travelling missionaries like Paul and Apollos.
God’s Word in 1 Peter 4:10 reminds us that we are stewards of God’s grace, and the purpose of our gifts and talents is to serve one another. These are not meant to be hoarded for our own desires, but to be shared with the body of Christ to build His kingdom. And how are we to use these gifts? It’s natural to push ourselves and give it all we’ve got. However, 1 Peter 4:11 tells us that “if anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides.” And the end goal of our gifts and talents is not for human praise or our list of #achievementunlocked. It is something much bigger than we can ever imagine. It is for the glory of God through Christ.
In times when I struggle to serve because of unwillingness or fearing I’m not good enough, I’m learning to choose obedience over feelings. That has translated to opportunities to minister through the gift of piano playing, and I’ve been blessed. Never did I imagine that one day, I would serve God and His people by playing the piano on board a missions ship that sailed around the world, at wake services where the music brought comfort to the grieving families, or in the dusty room of an elderly Japanese couple who hadn’t heard the sound of music in their home for years and broke into wide grins when I played their favourite songs.
God has given gifts to us all, and each of us has a part to play in the body of Christ. May we offer our gifts and talents generously and joyfully to the Giver, to serve others, and to make His world a better place.