Guess what? You don't have to be Lecrae to be relevant, signficant, or even have an effective music ministry. And you know what else? Lecrae would agree 100%.
First things first, shoutout to Lecrae and Reach Records for all that they have done to bring glory and honor to the Lord Jesus Christ. Their ministry is very much appreciated and is a blessing to many throughout the world. Thank God for them! I mean that sincerely.
So why this write-up? Well, on November 11, 2011 an artist (who I won't name) hit me up on Facebook with a private message. I wanted to share the message he sent because I'm sure that he isn't the only artist who has probably had this thinking. Here it is...
Hey bro? How's it going? I'm hitting you up because I need your help. It's my belief that now is the time for my "2nd wind" in ministry and I know you have to keep an ear to the Christian Hip-Hop world since you are co-owner of DaSouth.com. Here's what I want to know and why I want to know it...
As far as influence and fanbase in Christian Hip-Hop where do I stand? Low class, middle class, upper class? Would I be mentioned in conversations involving Lecrae or not mentioned at all? Basically rate my fanbase and influence using artists who may have the amount of notoriety or influence.
I need to know this because I need to know where I am in order to be strategic in where I'm going. I know you'll be honest and I trust your advice and analysis.
I was disheartened to receive this message. Why? For several reasons actually. For one, I've received several messages on Facebook, emails, text messages, and phone calls just like this one. Artists want to know "how can I blow up," "how can I get my name out," "am I significant," or "how can I grow my platform."
Allow me to dig into this.
Prosper Where You're Planted
God said that if you are faithful over little he would make you ruler over much (Matthew 25:23). Have you been faithful right where you are now? Or have you despised it? Have you reached those right within your current circle of influence? Your neighborhood, your city, your state, your school, your job, or even down at the corner store? Promotion comes from the Lord (Psalm 75:6-7), and just like a good boss - he looks to see who is faithful with what they've been assigned to. It is the faithful and diligent who are promoted in the corporate world, and it is the same in God's kingdom.
Lecrae has been faithful and diligent. This is one reason why God has raised him up. But guess what, just because you are faithful and diligent doesn't mean you will end up where Lecrae is. Lecrae is where he is because God assigned him to that task. Yet, many think that pursuit of a Lecrae-like platform is what they should be after. Not so.
How does one determine whether or not they have been "raised up"? Is it when they have reached a level of notoriety that makes them publicly visible to the masses? What if God called you to a life where only your works spoke for themselves, and no-one knew your name publicly but only privately? Would you be content with that? Judge your life by the fruit you produce. Just look around. Are lives being impacted? Are souls being saved? Are you a good spouse or parent? Do you visit the prisons, feed the poor and provide shelter for the homeless? It is these kinds of things and more that are very rarely seen as significant. Yet, Jesus said if you've done it for the least of these, you've done it for him.
Keep in mind, God had your life planned out for you before you were created in your mother's womb. He has a plan tailored made just for you (Jeremiah 29:11) and you should be excited about that! I know I am!
It is the Lord who exalts and brings low - not ourselves. He even raises up and brings down nations. The best way for God to expand your territory is to show him you are faithful where you are right now. I promise that if you delight yourself in the Lord, and serve right where you are "as unto the Lord," in due time things will change. But before any of that, it will be you that God changes first. He will always change us first. We have to be prepared for where he wants to take us.
Recognize Your Worth
Stop looking at others and recognize your own worth within the body of Christ. Many times we see what others are doing and somehow think that unless we are doing it like them, or "on their level," we are not doing it right. We incorrectly think we are ineffective and have no value, but nothing could be further from the truth.
Comparing yourself to others is a surefire way to lose focus and harbor an unthankful heart toward God. It can also cause self-hatred, and that's not healthy. It can make you unappreciative of what the Lord has placed in you and even have disdain for your calling. Wow! You are unique and are able to reach people in a way that even Lecrae may be unable to. You have your very own calling from a mighty and loving Father God, and you matter to Him. So don't discount your role in in the body of Christ.
Paul said in 1 Corinthians 12:18-27 (KJV):
But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. And if they were all one member, where were the body? But now are they many members, yet but one body. And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary: And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness. For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked. That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it. Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.
See, we all have worth. We all are a part of the same body - the body of Christ. No-one is above another. There is no social status with God. That only happens with man, and sadly we as Christians place these same yokes upon one another. With God there is no respect of persons (Romans 2:11; Proverbs 28:21). And let the person who thinks he is something humble himself, because he is deceived (Galatians 6:3). We are what we are because of God, and not of ourselves. The moment we think we did it all on our own is the day we begin to go downhill.
1 Corinthians 4:7 says, For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?
Don't Worship Rappers
There is a thin line with this. Christian Hip Hop has a ministry element and also it is a form of entertainment. Fans come with the territory unfortunately. Quite possibly, maybe it is the fans who make some feel favored and others feel as if they're a "nobody." Many times they pit artists against one another, even websites (which I know all too well).
Paul despised being made a person who people were fanatical and crazy about. He wanted all of the focus and glory to go to God alone. He had to address the church of Corinth (which seems to resemble our genre a lot it seems) because some were saying they were fans of Paul and others saying they were fans of Cephas.
In 1 Corinthians 1:13 he asked "was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?" "Then don't worship or become of fan of me!" he says in essence. Why? Because only one is worthy. "And don't pit me and Cephas against one another either!" (my paraphrase).
This kind of thing actually has a satanic element to it. How? Well, for one, it can be a form of idol worship. Secondly, it tries to cause envy, jealousy, and strife between brothers and sisters in the Lord. A house divided against itself cannot stand (Matthew 12:25). So let's be very careful to guard our hearts and minds when it comes to being fans of rappers, or anyone for that matter. If it causes us not to walk in love, division, strife and discord in the body - then that is a tell-tell sign. God is not the author of confusion.
Iron Sharpens Iron
There is some value in "measuring" yourself against others, but not in a covetous manner like what I've mentioned above. When you become unhappy with who you are, where you are and what you have due to comparing yourself to someone else - that is covetousness. There is nothing wrong with wanting to do more for God, or wanting to improve your life, your skills and ability. And admiring and being inspired by someone is a great way for this to happen. We definitely should challenge one another, but in a healthy manner and all for the glory of God. When iron sharpens iron, there isn't any competition. There is only a mutual love between one another that says "lets become better together."
Proverbs 27:17 (NIV) says, "as iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another."
When I was in college, a friend of mine and I used to play chess against each other all of the time. The more he and I played, the better each of us became. As we each honed our skills, we both brought them to the table when we played one another. And what would happen? We'd make each other better! It's the same for my brother and I. Everytime we play chess, we make each other better.
The same may be true for you with something else, whether it's rapping, a video game, sport, or something entirely different. You may even admire Kobe or LeBron from afar, and they challenge you to want to be a better basketball player. But if you begin to dislike where you are by comparing yourself to them - you've taken the wrong route. Only be challenged to be better. Do not covet.
Stay the course family. Keep the bigger picture in sight, which is to live for the glory of God and be led by him. Our works will be rewarded and you'll want nothing more than to hear him say "Well done my good and faithful servant."
You don't have to be Lecrae to be used of God, or to think you have significance. You don't have to be featured on DaSouth.com either. There are children of God all over this world doing great and mighty things for him, and folks don't even know their names. Many of them have even been martyred for the Lord. Do you know who it is that usually gets exalted? Those who never sought it or made it a priority to begin with.
The artist that sent me the Facebook message is a great guy. I did respond to him. Here is some of what I said:
Hey bro, hope all is well. Thanks for hitting me up. To answer your questions... No, you probably would not be mentioned in the same conversation as Lecrae, or even Fedel or Rey King. But here's the thing...
NONE OF THAT MEANS ANYTHING!
Only concern yourself with where God wants you to be and the select group of people he wants YOU to reach and influence. Those who have ears to hear will hear you and respond accordingly. In Christ, there is no upper, middle, lower class. All of those distinctions are man-made, not God-made. With God, there is NO respect of persons. NONE. Many times this CHH game gets folks twisted up and confused. Don't allow it to do that to you.
He responded saying:
Thanks man. You're right! I realized how I sounded after I sent the message which is why ended up sending u my #. I think I was 2nd guessing what I know I already heard from the Lord and I think I just really wanted to know if you felt like my music and ministry was/is relevant... Thanks for taking da time to hit me back bro!
I hope and pray this encouraged you today like it did this artist.
Shoutout to Lecrae!
I'll leave you with this song from Da' T.R.U.T.H. called "Why I Do" (which has a sample from Lecrae).
For more from Zee visit his blog at www.azizpbrimah.com. Follow him on Twitter @AzizPBrimah.