Valerie Jones

{Live with Purpose. Lead with Passion.}

I am a blogger, worship leader, and speaker who helps worship leaders and team members connect with purpose and passion in life and leadership by offering encouragement, community, and practical resources so that they can thrive in life and leadership, both on and off the platform.

Thanks for stopping by!

Filtering by Tag: christian leadership

{Undivided Heart and Honesty}

Honesty. It's essential. We all know that. In this week of study, honesty is a prerequisite to humility and intimate relationship with God.

I'm not sure I realized how easy dishonesty is for us. With others, with ourselves, with God. See, dishonesty isn't just about telling a blatant lie. It can be about concealment, covering up, leaving out various details about ourselves or a situation, or failing to take personal responsibility in a situation or circumstance. You know, being silent instead of speaking up. I've had much to confess to God over these last few weeks.

I think sometimes we're honest about our shortcomings and character flaws, but we stop short of actually acknowledging, when necessary, those things as sin and dealing accordingly through confession and repentance. Instead, we say things like, "No one is perfect. We are all sinners. I'm just authentic and real." And, yes, we are all sinners, and none of us are perfect, but in failing to deal with our sin honestly, we sabotage our efforts at authenticity and realness. We must learn to acknowledge the truth about ourselves and our sin lest our hearts be hardened, and the Holy Spirit grieved. Scripture tells us, "If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us." (1 John 1:8)

For me, my prayers had become a bit lop-sided lacking confession and repentance. I don't make a habit of keeping a running list of all the ways I mess up in a day. That's not what I'm saying. But, what I do want to do is make an intentional effort to ask the Lord to reveal hidden sin in my life. And I also want to listen actively for and respond more quickly to the Holy Spirit as He convicts me. Because intimacy with God is what my soul craves, I don't want anything in my life to unnecessarily create barriers or limit my closeness to Him. I want Him to clean out everything that doesn't belong, anything that offends Him so that He has free reign in my heart. My undivided, completely yielded to Him, heart. This week, I had to ask myself: Do I trust Him enough to do that? Because here's the thing: Honesty requires vulnerability. When I willingly lay bare the vulnerable places of my heart before the Father, I am demonstrating my trust in Him. He, in turn, shows His unfailing love and faithfulness, His grace and mercy.  It's a beautiful, wonderful thing.

And, yes, I do trust Him. God is trustworthy.

May we never miss an opportunity to be vulnerable and honest at the feet of our Savior. May I encourage you in that today, sweet friends? God doesn't deal with us harshly, as our sins deserve, because, Jesus.

{Five Minute Friday | Purpose}

It's Five Minute Friday. That means unplanned, unedited, straight-from-the-heart-to-the-paper writing. Yep, you just write whatever comes out based on a word you're given. If you have five minutes, you should give it a try!  Find out how here.

This week the prompt is {PURPOSE}.

Ready? GO.

Finding purpose is a game changer. And, every person walking the planet has a purpose pre-determined and assigned by the Creator before birth. I love that. We all have gifts; we all have purpose.

I've been studying 2 Timothy. It was the last letter written by the apostle Paul. There are a lot of things happening in this letter, and I love it! One of the things I relish most in Paul's writing to Timothy is the charge Paul issues. He's reminding Timothy of his purpose and challenging him to finish well. He says "fulfill your ministry." (2 Tim. 4:5) Because sometimes we get sidetracked, or afraid, or preoccupied with other things. But Paul's words jump off the page and plead with us to do whatever it takes. It doesn't just happen. It requires endurance, perseverance, intentionality. It means walking and living in the power of the Spirit. It's hard. But, Jesus is so worth it. The Gospel is so worth it. Through Christ, God entrusted us (revealed to us) the single, most powerful and life-changing truth in all of history.  That's something we all, as believers in Christ, have in common. We share a common purpose in that our priority is the spreading of the gospel. Our lives were meant to point back to the One who created us. That's purpose.

May I encourage you today? There is no higher purpose than this. What's God asking you to do with your gifts? Here's the thing: No one else can do what God has asked of you the same way that you can do it. He created you and gifted you precisely for what He's asking of you.

What if we, the church, responded to Paul's exhortation to fan into flames our God-given gifts and go with boldness, in love and truth, proclaiming the hope found in Jesus? Yeah, what if we did that.


{The Hard Stuff}

Confession: I am brokenhearted. Desperate. Needy. I've been looking in the wrong place for the remedy, thinking if I can just wrap my words around what's happened in my church life over the last 18 months, I can help put it to bed. There's nothing I want more than to be free of it. It's like a terrible break-up. Do you know what I mean?  

It's like what happens when you watch a scary movie, and you get spooked. Then your house comes alive with eerie noises and shifty shadows that linger long after the show is over. The only fix when that happens to me is my favorite sitcom. I have to replace the old picture with a new one.

It's not that I'm sitting around feeling needy and brokenhearted all the time. That's not who I am. But, when something comes up that points backward, that's what bubbles up in my soul. Confession 2: I haven't fully and honestly dealt with it. Mostly because I still feel stunned when I recount some of it. Then disappointed. I opted for a move forward and never look back approach, which served me well in the immediate weeks following, but now the Lord is saying, "Hey, let's redeem that for good. Let me at your heart."  

 I'm three weeks into a new Bible study (it's called Seeking Him, if you're wondering), and it's abundantly clear: what I need is a revival. Renewal. Refreshing. How about you? How's your heart? How's your soul? How are you doing, for real? It's okay to fess up and own our imperfections. If I've learned anything at all, it's that I'm not the only person walking the planet with this kind of struggle. This is the hard stuff, and none of us are exempt.

Want to come along over next twelve weeks for some real talk, to process through some hard stuff? (Yay! A new blog series!) I'd love that. There's something beautiful that happens when we can come along side each other and say, "Hey, me too." So, what do you say?

I'm starting here:
Teach me Your way, Lord, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart that I may fear Your name. I will praise You, Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify Your name forever. For great is Your love toward me; You have delivered me from the depths of the grave.(Psalm 86:11-13)

That's what I want. An undivided heart.

Can I encourage you today, sweet friends? God is infinitely good and deeply concerned for your heart. Invite Him into the hard stuff. It becomes something beautiful when we put it into His hands.

{When You Can't Take the Next Step}

Let’s do something fun! Settle down in your most comfy chair, close your eyes. Now, think about one of your favorite songs. Do you have it? Go ahead, hum a few bars! Does it stir something in you? Why is it a favorite? There’s a good chance it’s attached to a significant memory or moment in your life. When you hear it, you remember. I have an extensive list of songs like that! I am a confessed music freak, so my list may be excessive, and I have been known to burst into song randomly. My friends still love me.

But seriously.

I remember the song I played a million and one times after my first bad breakup.  I remember the song the girls and I LOVED to hear when we went, ahem, line dancing. After the Lord had started healing my broken and grieved heart, I knelt near the babies’ graves and sang. I remember that song, too.

There have been moments when I couldn’t find words and a song said just what I needed to say. And so, worship through song has long been one of my favorite things. I love to gather with other believers and worship. God birthed something in me a long time ago about worship. It’s where I’m at home. It’s my sweet spot. Our invitation to engage in worship is such a precious gift, a priceless one. I am convinced God’s presence, His Spirit, changes us as we engage. And, boy, do I ever want to lead well in this area. As a worship leader, I have the opportunity to stand in front of lots of people and point them to Jesus. It’s such a big deal to me. Huge.

A few weeks back, an incredible opportunity came my way. I mean, seriously, amazing. I was invited to participate in a worship leader training/mentoring program. Y’all. My one-to-one mentor would be Christy Nockels. I’d also be learning from other established, experienced (and incredible) worship leaders like Kim Walker-Smith and Kari Jobe in live, video-conference small group sessions. There’s an opportunity to get constructive feedback from these leaders as they watch videos of me leading. There’s roundtable discussion with other participants and the leaders. It lasts 6-months, with the opportunity to extend to a full year’s worth of mentoring/training! When I got the news, I was beside myself. Excited, yes. But, also terrified. This kind of thing is WAY outside of my comfort zone. Like, I’m talking in another galaxy. I was going to decline because it costs a few thousand dollars. But, there’s a fundraising option, they said. So, I said yes.

But now, I’m stuck. No matter how I try, I just can’t bring myself to take the next step and raise funds. I’m struggling here because there’s no doubt it’s a good thing. But, is it a God-thing? I think so.

Then, why can’t I do the next thing? Why don’t I feel ok about asking people to “fund” or “support” me? I have a feeling it’s because I’m afraid. Because I don’t like rejection. (What if NO ONE wants to give?) I am afraid to be misunderstood. (What if SOMEONE thinks I’m selfish?)  It’s all rooted in insecurity and pride. And, never mind my lack of faith!? Wouldn’t it be true that if God’s asked me to do it, He'd provide a way for me to do it? And if I say God’s prompted me to do it, doesn’t that make it a matter of obedience?

But, still.

I’m feeling a bit of a hot mess today. Have you ever been there? You know what needs to happen next, yet you just can’t. That's where I am. I want to, but I just . . . can't. Every time I start, there’s a nagging thought that mocks me. We’re sometimes hard on ourselves, aren’t we? I’m working through this process, and I’m impatient and fussy. I’m ready to bail. But that doesn’t feel quite right either. So, instead, I’m left to trust. It’s my choice, of course. Whether I’ll ease up and realize I’m not really in control of what happens here is up to me. I’m not there yet in this situation. But, we’re working on it, Jesus and me. We’re always working on it.

May I encourage you, sweet friends? It’s okay not to be okay. It’s not wise to stay there, but remember we have a Father God who is more than willing to walk us through the days when we feel like a hot mess. We can rest easy in His loving, wise arms believing that He knows what He’s doing, even when we don’t.

He loves you so.

{3 Things About Love}

I've been thinking a lot about love lately. There are all kinds of things that get mistaken and misrepresented as love. Some are way off base; while others are close representations, subtle perversions, making them especially dangerous. That's a topic for another conversation, really. For now, let's just say culture has made a mess of love. What about the Christians? How are we doing? I suppose we've all had someone say they love us in one breath while their behavior tells a different story. Paul offered a precise and pointed description of love in his letter to the church in Corinth. It's a beautiful passage, really, but does anyone else find it's also remarkably hard?  

Here are just a few of the ways love behaves according to Apostle Paul:

Love is patient and kind. It is not jealous, boastful, proud, or rude (or unmannerly). Love does not insist on its rights or demand its way. It is not irritable and keeps no record of being wronged. It tells the truth. It never loses faith. Should I go on? For heaven's sake, he lost me at the word "patient" and "is not irritable."  Anyone else feeling like you fall incredibly short? I do. Especially when no one wants to sleep in on Monday morning after a super-long, über-exhausting weekend.

But, wait. Just about the time we want to bury our heads in the sand for fear of never measuring up, there's sweet grace. Thank goodness, we can breathe a sigh of relief. See, God doesn't expect us to measure up to His standard by our own efforts and in our strength. We simply can't. When we follow His lead, though, well, that's a different story. One of the distinguishing characteristics of a Jesus-follower is love. It's the thing that makes us different. The world should be able to identify us because of our extravagant love for God and for others. Here are a few things He's been teaching me about the tricky business of love.

1. On our own, we will never have the capability to love others well. Yeah, this one hits home for me. I know what it's like to lack compassion and genuine love for others when I'm stuck in my own pit of despair, concerned only with myself. Love doesn't do that, does it? Love is most concerned with others. Thankfully, Scripture says God is working in us giving us the power to do what pleases Him. It also says that we love because He loves. See, it's His love perfected in us and flowing through us. Once we experience the depths of His love for us and rest in that love, we can love others and love them well.

2. It's not just about the correct behavior; it's about the attitude and heart behind the action. You can say the right thing and even do the right thing without being motivated by love. For example, you can volunteer to serve in the children's ministry or on the cleaning team for your local church. No one would argue that's a good thing! However, you can't do the good thing and then complain because you have to do it! Chances are there's something besides love motivating you. It's just like when I look at my sweet, rock-star husband and say, "But, I want you to want to do the laundry." When love motivates you, you don't complain and do the good thing with resentment. Love and resentment can't exist in the same space.

3. If we believe God loves us, and we love Him, it will change the way we live. Here's the thing: Love needs to be expressed. It demands it. The most lavish expression of love known to man was carried out when God sent Jesus to die for our sins. And so, I want to do the same. I want God's love to compel me to action. I want everything I do to be a reflection of that love. Your heart will always give you away. And so, I pray that our hearts will be fixed on Him. That we love Him wholeheartedly, and that we remember how great His love is for us. It's the only way.

Be encouraged, sweet friends. He loves you so. Believe it. Know it. Then, love Him back with all you've got.