A Musician’s Heart

A Musician’s Heart

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My mother-in-law Doris was a gifted church musician. She is now in heaven directing a choir or playing an instrument or maybe just worshipping at Jesus’ feet! Back in the days when the main instruments in church were piano and organ, she was highly sought after for her skills. She recorded an organ album and wrote several choir cantatas. Depending on how loaded the organ was, she could produce sounds like the angelic choirs (or so I imagine!)

As a church musician myself, I can tell you that one of the biggest ongoing battles we face is pride.  There is an appropriate desire to sound good; we want our musical offerings to be excellent.  But then we compare our skills with someone else or have the sinful desire to be admired.  When it becomes selfish or all about us, we are wandering dangerously into prideful territory. This is a regular tension: how do we serve Christ and His church creatively and to the best of our abilities without taking the credit when we sound amazing? (Or being overly critical when we don’t?)

After my mother-in-law passed away, we found some of her writings in a journal. One story was about her role as music leader for a summer Bible camp. For many years she had been the organist at the camp as well as serving in her home church.  One year, the camp rented an extraordinarily nice organ with all the bells and whistles that her organ at home didn’t have. Doris was eager to try it out and anticipated an entire week of bliss, playing this beautiful organ.

But just before the first service began, the soloist for the week and his wife arrived. Doris knew the wife as a pianist and they began chatting about the music.  When the soloist’s wife noticed the fancy organ, she said, “I think I’d like to play the organ instead of piano this week.”  Doris heard the Holy Spirit tell her to slide off the organ bench and move to the piano.  She wrote that as the first song progressed, shameful tears slipped down her cheeks. She was so disappointed! But she felt great peace in submitting to the Lord in humility and obedience.

One thing about this story that really bothers me is that the soloist’s wife was not nearly as gifted on the organ as Doris was.  Her selfishness in wanting to play the nice organ actually detracted from the quality of worship music that week. Doris was the better organ player by far. But maybe the Lord was more concerned about the state of Doris’ heart than about the caliber of the music.

What’s the lesson for us? God sees our hearts. He wants us to obey and worship Him more than just the music or the worship songs we sing. And He doesn’t need any of us, none of us are indispensable. I’m reminded of Romans 12:3:
For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each one of you.
I’m looking forward to hearing the music in heaven. I’m sure it surpasses anything we can imagine here on earth! And then I’ll be ashamed for any pride I had in my meager musical abilities. I will lay my crowns at His feet and worship Him forever!
Linda Graf About Linda Graf

Linda Graf is the author of  Bitter Truth: My Story of Bitterness, Grace and Repentance. She wrote it after the Lord freed her from a lifestyle of anger and bitterness. She is a musician, a mentor and mother. Being an author was never on her radar, but during her journey from bitterness to joy in Christ, she was compelled to write about it. Check out her website where she blogs regularly.


  1. Linda, your mother-in-law was wonderfully obedient to sacrifice a heart’s desire, and God rewarded her for it.
    I learned this lesson well as a brand new Christian. Fresh out of music school, I joined my new church’s choir. Yet the director never asked me to solo. I was insulted. Obviously, my trained voice was superior to the rest of the choir!
    For several months, this baby Christian devoured God’s Word and began to realize what it meant to be humble before God. As soon as I told Him that if He wanted me to sing, it would be for His glory and not my own, I was offered my first solo as a Christian. I have kept that promise in the four decades since.
    Our talents are to be used for Him. Now that I am learning the craft of writing, the same lesson is transferred. I want to write for His glory!

  2. Linda, this spoke to me exactly where I needed to hear it today! I find that I need to lay down my pride when it comes to the callings on my life in a very ongoing way! I find myself wanting to “be the best” and attain lofty goals, but so often, the Lord simply calls me to serve within my giftings in small and unseen ways. This isn’t easy, but certainly, if we can be faithful in the small places, he can trust us to be faithful in more visible places as well. Thanks for the reminder today.

  3. Yes and amen! A perfect way to transfer the lesson from music to writing. Thanks for your comment <3

  4. Thank you for your encouragement, Stacey!

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