Living in the Pocket

Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others,

as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.

I Peter 4:10


I went to a Dave Matthews Band concert this summer, and I had many thoughts while I was there. Since the band tends to go on long instrumental riffs, there was a lot of time to think…

I thought about how I’m getting older. When I went to my first Dave concert in college, “Ants Marching” was big. This time, there was a teenage girl sitting next to me who said, “Well, I’ve never heard of Dave Matthews Band, but my dad says I’ll like it.” Wow.

I thought about it’s hard for me to just sit still. For four hours. And do nothing but listen. I love to sing, but it’s rather hard to sing along at a Dave concert. It’s like trying to sing along to live jazz.  It is trying to sing along to live jazz!

I thought about how amazing it was to watch these musicians playing their instruments as extensions of their bodies, of their souls. There is nothing like watching people right in the pocket of their gifts, when they’re letting the talent that God graciously gave them flow unhindered. Their fingers blurred. Their bodies moved in time. They were all about the music.

And I thought about how sad it was that they were all about the music. I looked around at the people around me, who were drinking and dancing and singing and listening, and at the band making tremendous music on stage, and I thought, What a waste.


God gave these musicians nearly unbelievable talents. And they’re so close to using them for His glory. Their lyrics lead you to believe that they care about the state of the world, that they’re against excess and for love. (I’ve always thought that “Ants Marching” perfectly paints the life of an unbeliever, or even a lukewarm Christian, who won’t step out in faith.) But other Dave lyrics point to a general sense of discontent and disconnectedness from God.  Despite all of their talents, their hearts seemed full of spiritual clutter that would soon push out their momentary high from the applause.

While I was listening to the glorious music, a question came to me: Were the musicians glorifying God anyway, just because they were using His gifts so well? Was the music praise, despite their intentions?


All I know is that as I listened, I prayed and thanked God for their gifts.

I let those instrumental riffs swell in my heart like great hymns of praise and I lifted them to my Lord in thanksgiving.

And I vowed to be sure my talents were giving glory to Him and not to me.


What gifts to you have that can be, if not abused exactly, pointed in the wrong direction?

Perhaps you play a musical instrument, or like to sing as I do. Are you praising God, or just enjoying the song?

You athletic folks, are you playing for the love of the game, or the love of the One who created your body to play it?

And I’m not just talking about societally recognized talents, either. I love baking, but unfortunately I often bake with the taste in mind, not praise for the one who helps me take all of these unappetizing ingredients and turn them into something wonderful.


Every time we’re in the pocket—with every wonderful thing we do—we can remember Who put us there, and praise Him.

When we excel, we can effectively say: Look at what I did… see me being awesome!

Or we can take this attitude: Look at what I did… and see Him!


Lies to Fight: Look what I can do. Look what I can create. Wow, I am awesome at this!


Thought Shot: Thank you, Lord, for this gift and this moment of Your glory!


We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

2 Corinthians 10:5

You can work on developing better attitudes within your family—check out my Free Guide to a Vibrant Family Faith.

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