Over a decade ago Community Church was in need of a music leader for our church. Ideally we were hoping to find someone who could do music and youth. Steve Morgan, on staff here at the time, and I went to meet with a B'ham area PCA worship leader who we liked and trusted (Brian T. Murphy at Red Mountain) to ask if he knew of any potential candidates for us to consider. After hearing what we were looking for, he mentioned someone who had sung for him on the "Depth of Mercy" album. I remembered and could hear in my mind the song he mentioned (Wedding Dress) and knew right then this was a guy we had to get ... sight unseen. That voice was ideal for anything I could hope for and dream of for CPC. Then Brian gave us even more exciting news ... he said this guy's wife's voice would make us "want to take your shirt off and dance." How could we go wrong with that advice?!?!
Stokes and Connie are still here, now 12 years later, despite having taken a fairly recent brief sabbatical. I still consider Stokes' voice and style my ideal and I still want to dance when I hear Connie sing (but I promise I'll keep my shirt on).
So I found it interesting yesterday when Stokes asked me to watch a video of a worship song that he considers his "ideal" of what he'd like to be able to do some day. So how do you process and evaluate the ideal of what you consider to be the ideal? The music video that Stokes asked me to watch was exceptionally good; the music was great, the voices were powerful, etc. ... but nothing better than what he is capable of doing or has even previously done. I truly do admire Stokes' humility and non-stop willingness to point to others greater than himself, but there are times when I wish he would recognize and better utilize the freakish talent God has given him. (or maybe not ... some large church may come along and snatch him up by offering some insane salary!)
Do you ever wonder who God considers as His "ideal"? It's really not a difficult answer - Himself. He considers Himself to be the most ideal, perfect, glorious, magnificent, fantastic, awesome, etc. Yes, it does sound a bit egotistical, but who or what else is higher than God? To whom or what else could He give His glory? Think about it ... if God gave glory to someone / something else then it would mean there was something higher and greater than God. It would mean He is being a jerk in requiring us to settle for something lesser and inferior (Him) while He enjoys something greater and superior (whatever it is He worships). But the truth is rather simple - God deserves all the glory, honor, worship, and praise for there is nothing or nobody that is more marvelous than Him. And to be honest, that's what I really appreciate about Stokes and his ministry here at CPC ... he helps me embrace the supreme ideal of God's holiness and glory.