For those who don’t know, my life is primarily made up of using my musical gifts in various settings. Whether its performing my own music live, leading worship at my local church, or leading music for other ministries around the country, my bread and butter is singing songs in front of people.
One of my favorite parts of what I do is getting to hear a lot of gifted people teach and preach. I get to partner with brothers and sisters as they bring the Word in verbal form, and its left me with treasure troves of truth and notebooks filled with scribbled quotes punctuated with excessive exclamation points and hand-drawn hearts.
Recently I was able to lead worship at a Christian school, and my friend Andy Dooley came alongside to speak some words of encouragement to a few hundred young men and women. He said a lot of good things that refreshed my heart, but one of them has echoed over and over within me. It’s been a chorus in the song of my daily life and I can’t shake it.
He told the students that each of them has a unique identity and purpose, and they don’t need to be like anyone else. In fact, he said that the more they tried to be like other people, the further away they’d get from what they were created for. With conviction in his voice he proclaimed “Don’t look at what someone else is doing; don’t compare yourself to the person next to you. The anointing is on the real you!”
Whoa, back it up. Let that sink in for a moment. The anointing is on the real you.
In order to fully steep in that truth, I want to explore that word: anointing. Its a buzz word in Christian culture (depending on your tradition) and something that gets tossed around from time to time without a lot of explanation.
For first century Jews, anointing was a common practice within the context of prophets, priests, kings, and those who needed healing. Anointing was a ceremonial application of oil to set someone apart for a specific duty or for a special request for physical healing. To anoint is to make something ready for Holy use. In our context, this sometimes happens with oil, but the reality of it already belongs to us in Christ.
Our anointing is part of our inheritance given on the cross. 1 John 2:27 reads: “And as for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you, but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him.” Anointing, then, is received, and ours is the Holy Spirit living in us. In Christ, it is ours as we belong to Him.
To be anointed means that you have been enabled, entrusted, and empowered to accomplish God’s will.
You, sister, are anointed.
Maybe you’ve heard that word and thought of a person in a certain role in the church or with a certain set of gifts. I’ve distinguished anointing that way in the past as well. “That worship leader is so anointed.” “She’s such an anointed teacher.”
That may be true, but I think we’d be missing part of the bigger picture. We have a tendency to place value on certain gifts and to forget others, or to recognize someone’s gifts at a level of importance due to their visible value. This makes us feel sometimes like those people are special and we’re… ordinary. What I love about what Andy pointed out is that we’re anointed in ways that don’t always look great on a stage.
We might have high praise for the people we see upfront doing their thing, but God is clear in the scriptures that the Body needs more than just those people. In order to fully express who God is in the world, His Body needs all of the other parts – desperately. Scripture teaches that those who are seen as “lesser” are actually of the utmost importance. You might not know what part you play yet. You might feel like you don’t have any gifts to offer because you don’t sing or preach or write books or run an organization. But you can already live into the work you’re set apart for.
So what does it mean that the anointing is on the real you? It means that the power to reveal Christ’s love to those around you lies in you being who you truly are as you abide in Jesus. There are quirks in you, parts of your story that feel the most vulnerable, and virtue in you just being you – that will all be part of your ministry to the world. It also means that if you’re trying to be that other girl, that other kind of person, that other kind of gifted, you could miss it.
The real you is set apart for holy work. I think we sometimes miss what this work looks like. There is holy work for you today, as you are. Telling your friend that though she might feel dark, you believe in the light in her? Holy work. Making someone laugh in the middle of a stressful day? Holy work. Praying behind closed doors for that family member who has injured your heart? Holy work. However it is that you uniquely express the Imago Dei, there is holy work for you that He has anointed you – and only you – to do. Your testimony, your gifts, your bump, your bruises, your voice. The anointing is on the you that only He sees sometimes.
This challenges me because, honestly, the real me is so often not the person I want to be. I don’t want to be the girl with baggage and a history of anxiety. I don’t want to be the girl who always says the hard truths to friends instead of what they want to hear. I don’t want to be the girl who gets angry with injustice and can’t be cool about it. I don’t want to be the girl who is terrified to get on stage or who cries at everything or who needs alone time to recharge. I want to be the opposite of so many things that I am. But God has called me to be me, abiding in Him and fully believing that He has set me apart for a purpose in all that I am.
As I’ve grown older, I’ve discovered this to be so very true: The things to which I am called really do feel like me. When I played my first show I remember thinking, “That was scary and I don’t think I sounded very good… But I’ve never felt more like myself.” The times when I see God using me to have an impact on the people around me (by grace alone) are, in fact, a result of me being the most authentic version of myself. Whether that’s telling the truth about where I’m at, getting up on stage to sing that song when it scares the pants off of me, being silly and laughing embarrassingly hard, or taking the time to let my cup be filled by resting when its unpopular, “doin’ me” has resulted in the most fruit in my life. Of course, “doin’ me” as I continue to walk with Jesus marries with and is shaped by His purpose. For example, before I was a Christian, leading a weekly study for homeless pregnant women probably would have felt like the last thing I wanted to do. But, these days it’s one of my favorite things and feels like who God has made me to be. There will be things you’re created to do that you will not want to do. But if He’s calling you to it, you will feel more and more like it fits you somehow.
Let me hammer this home: You are anointed for good works. In Andy’s words, run your race and don’t waste your days looking in the lane next to you. God has called you to be you, and in Him you are a gift to the world. The sometimes awkward, sometimes insecure, often stumbling and falling short you. The afraid, unsure, “who, me?” yes, you you. You are set apart for divine purpose, a vessel of the mighty God who created it all. As the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples at Pentecost in the upper room and anointed them for service, you, too, have been anointed by God with the Holy Spirit. I pray that you lean into that today and rest assured that you don’t need to strive to earn that inherited power. God has already given it. It’s already in you.
PC: @stefanie.madison via #belovedlife