Slaying the Dragon of Duplicity

Featuring Sandy Hoffman Posted on February 4, 2009

I don’t think my second grade teacher, Ms. Morgan, would mind my mentioning this. She never intended to make my life difficult by telling my Mom that I would be a jack-of-all-trades, and master of none. Truth is, I latched on to that pronouncement as though she were conferring knighthood upon me. Perhaps I was just too young to foresee the battles I’d be facing as a result of accepting this “title.” I guess I didn’t understand I was about to be engaged in an epic struggle with the “dragon of duplicity.”

I was only seven when I first heard those words:  jack-of-all-trades. The Beatles had made their first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show, and the rock-n-roll bug had bitten me bad. Soon I was passionately flailing my first guitar. In my childish estimation, being a jack-of-all-trades held some mysterious promise that maybe I could be good at all-things-musical. I intended to learn to play every instrument, and sing every part in the band! For that matter, I wholeheartedly believed I would become proficient at them all.

It never happened. What developed instead was the type of frustration that is so commonly seen in those who wander without clear direction. I was struggling to do too many things at once, and to be excellent in each. I groped along this life-path for many years, never considering that if I could just zero in on one discipline, I might finally reach that level of excellence I so deeply desired.

It was a sunny, Texas Sunday in 1993 when the Lord finally broke the chains of my musical multi-perfectionism. During the morning service, He clearly spoke to my heart and said that I was no longer to be a jack-of-all trades and master of none. He set me free from the dungeon of misdirection, and instructed me forever to focus on one mission:  “To go before His throne, and take others with me.” I now had a clear path to follow for the rest of my life.  From that day forward, everything I would set my hand to do could be prioritized and measured by the Lord’s specific will for me. There would be no more wandering in ten directions at once. The dragon was dead.

Fought any good dragons in your own life lately? Getting a clear understanding of life-direction doesn’t have to be as difficult as a medieval battle with an overgrown lizard. It can be as simple as answering a few fundamental questions about ourselves. Fortunately, these questions apply across the board to any area of life which seems to need a bit of compass correction. Ultimately, our answers can be crafted into a mission statement, designed to be referred to again and again. Whenever life begins to look like just so many rabbit trails, having a clear, concise mission for yourself or your team can save lots of time and energy in the pursuit of non-mission specific activities.

James 1:8 says the “double-minded man [is] unstable in all his ways."  In order to avoid instability, we should seek life-answers which will empower us to stay focused on God’s specific will for the long haul. When a solid mission statement finally emerges, it  becomes a life changing, fruit producing tool.  Shall we give it a try?

As an active “YWAMer” for many years, I was taught that there are two foundational expressions of human existence:  being, and doing. With this in mind, the first question we have to answer is, “Who am I?” (or “Who do I be?”). I wonder which caveman first made that query. Surely the question has been around as long as man has had the ability to ask it. Discovering “Who am I?”, or perhaps even “Who is my worship team?”, can be quite an enjoyable experience. The process holds great promise for personal and team enlightenment, not to mention relationship building opportunities.
    First, let’s have a brainstorming session. Write down everything you think you are:  Christian, worshiper, leader, guitarist, etc. Now begin to boil it all down to its least common denominator, the essence of who you are. The first half of my own mission is:  “To go [be] before the throne . . .” This represents a state of being. I am intentionally abiding in (being in) God’s presence. This is who I be. Who be you?
The next question to address is, “What am I doing?” This response generally flows out of the answer to question number one, “Who am I?” Brainstorm again. Write it all down. Ponder it, then take it to its most concise conclusion. Remember, a mission statement doesn’t have to be short and sweet, but the shorter and sweeter it is, the greater the chance you’ll remember it when you really need to.

My mission, part two, is:  “. . . and take others with me.” Now I’m not only being, I’m actively doing as well. I’m using whatever gifts and talents I have from the Lord to convince others to follow me into His presence, in order to bring Him glory. When I’m standing in front of the congregation, it’s not about seeking their attention or adulation. Quite the contrary, it’s about encouraging them to join me in looking upward and praising Jesus with 100% passion. This is my mission. My whole life is now about “going before His throne, and taking others with me.” Every decision I make, or action I take should be based upon this simple overarching vision. If my mission somehow gets off track, it’s easy now to recognize it, and quickly reconsider my misdirected participation in anything that doesn’t line up. This is the beauty of a clear life-mission.

There is a wonderful simplicity in singular living. When my second grade teacher said that I was a jack-of-all-trades, she had no idea the number of pathways she might be sending me down. Perhaps someone has spoken the same type of thing over you. Perhaps you’re feeling frustrated and confused about where your life, or ministry or team is headed. Why not take a moment right now, ask the Lord for direction, and begin the process of hearing, defining and walking out God’s mission for you. You and God constitute a majority. Together, you will slay the dragon of duplicity in your own life, and find peace in the singular calling of God!

This article first appeared in the Nov/Dec 2007 issue of Worship Musician Magazine. copyright © 2007 Sandy Hoffman.

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