by Adele Morgan, Wasilla, Alaska
"Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." (Matthew 6:19-21)
It was dark out but I could still see the flickering neon lights from Music Row. Their reflections made a rainbow on the dashboard of our rental car. My husband and I had just spent a lovely evening at the Blue Bird Café, listening to a songwriter's showcase. The lineup for the show consisted of fresh new talent and some veteran writers able to tell "Grammy winning tales." We pulled into an empty parking lot and through tears of uncertainty, continued to discuss the future of my songwriting and singing career.
Nashville, Tennessee was a long way from Wasilla, Alaska. I had recently (by a neighbor's prodding) entered and won a singing contest in my home state that gave me an all-expense paid trip to "Music City." Friends and family helped finance a 4-song demo at a local studio in Alaska before leaving for Nashville. They all had high hopes of me coming back with a record deal. I glanced down at my watch and realized we had been talking for over an hour now. I felt the sharp edge of the cardboard box poke me in the leg. The big box of demos we had lugged over 4000 miles still awaited their distribution. I now realized that they would not be distributed in Nashville and would be making the long trip back to Alaska with me.
On three different occasions after my first trip to Nashville, God gave me other opportunities to go back for songwriter's conferences, the Gospel Music Awards and other music related events. But each time I met with industry executives, I heard the same voice in my heart asking, "Can you really commit to the conditions and stipulations of a major record label and still be the mother and wife that you've always hoped to be? How will you be able to give your husband and daughter real quantity and quality time, while performing 150 dates a year?" At that time, there were several Christian artists thrown into the public eye who had given up on their marriages and were trying to piece their ministries back together. I didn't know if my marriage could withstand this kind of pressure and life change.
I decided that maybe I should use a different kind of yardstick to measure success, other than what was typically handed to musicians of the day. Was it really how many units you sold, how many dates you did a year, whose label you were on or how many awards you were nominated for? I really started to question all those ideas in my heart and mind.
When I got back to Alaska, I wrote a song called. "Where Are Your Treasures?" It continues to be one of the theme songs of my life.
Where are your treasures?
Do they melt with a touch?
Would you sell your own soul?
Do they mean that much?
Where are your treasures?
Are they just within reach?
Do they vanish from your sight?
Do you practice what you preach?
Although that first Nashville trip was many years ago, God continues to show me that no matter how many people I minister to, whether it is one or one thousand, I'm just a "clanging gong" to those closest to me if my life does not reflect the words I sing and speak. I consider it an honor and a privilege to have the respect of my family and friends.
Each day it is important to check my heart motives for ministry. Am I spending my time wisely, putting my efforts towards things that have eternity's values in view? You know, the things that really matter... relationship with God, relationship with family and friends, growing in my faith and walk with the Lord. If I neglect those things, the other things...even the accolades and apparent successes, don't amount to anything at all!
Lord, help me -- help us all -- to pursue the true treasures that You want us to pursue. Don't let us be distracted by what the world offers. Instead let our heart and passion be for You and the things that You desire for our lives. Amen.
1. What helps you keep your priorities straight?
2. How should we as a worship ministry define success?
3. It can be tempting, when you're up front on the worship team, to begin to showcase your talent. How do you keep your heart right?