More Wisdom from Rich Mullins (Part 3)

FfFErdaf_400x400I’m going to get right to it this week; see previous weeks’ posts for context.  Mullins never married, so he could address singleness and healthy, adult, non-sexual friendships with a true and honest voice.  From “Sex and Self-Confidence”:

A lot of people say if you don’t have self-confidence, you can’t do anything. . . . It’s kind of like people who say if you don’t have sex you’ll never be intimate with anybody. . . . Christ was really in a bad way then because I think Christ was very intimate with several people, but I don’t believe he ever had sex.  We’ve all been led to believe that if we’re not sexually active we’re just not human, but that’s just not the truth.  We’ve all been led to believe if we don’t put our faith in ourselves we’re not going to accomplish anything.  I don’t think that’s true either.

One of Mullins’ true gifts to the Church was his continual rejection of the materialism and drive for success that characterize so many Christians and so much of American Christianity, behavior that, Mullins argued, is not inherently part of a believer’s spiritual DNA–i.e., default-setting behavior effortlessly learned by all Americans unless they make conscious decisions to reject the societal norms.  From “Be Assertive”:

The more we pursue what we think we want, the more it eludes us.  Or, we get what we think we want, and we find out we didn’t really want it in the first place.  Everything that we go after will disappoint us. . . . We think that we’re going to find happiness because we see something that happiness is supposedly contained in, and we go for it, and we get it, and we all live happily ever after.  But that’s not the way life works out, and even our own experiences tell us that.  And yet we continue to be tolerant of a view of life that says that nothing is more important in the world than that you get what you want.  That is why there is so much hurt in the world. . . . The Scriptures don’t teach us to be assertive.  The Scriptures teach us–and this is remarkable–the Scriptures teach us to be submissive.  This is not a popular idea.

Not surprisingly, Mullins’ ideas of what makes a good leader in the Church didn’t come out of any New York Times leadership bestseller.  From “Killing Philistines”:

When did David get to kill Goliath?  After he [did the comparatively humiliating work–for a red-blooded young man–of taking] sandwiches to his brothers.  When we learn to obey, when we learn to follow, we may become able to lead.  But we are not going to be fit to lead until we are able to follow.  When we learn to listen–after we’ve got the art of listening down–we’re going to have something to say.  But if we never learn to listen, we’re going to talk, talk, talk and never say a word.  Everything in life is backwards from the way we think it’s supposed to be.

Mullins had a disarming honesty about the trappings of his ccm success and frequently attempted to disabuse what he perceived to be fans’ inaccurate notions of what his life must be like.  From “Women and Tragedy”:

My life does not play out like my albums do. . . . People hear those albums and they think that that’s the sum total of who I am and what I’m about.  And I kinda go, “Wow, you know these albums don’t address some of the real central issues of my life.”  And I have some real hang-ups. . . . I think people have the illusion when you’re a musician that they know you really intimately and really well, and the truth is that you know what I have chosen for you to know, and I’ve shown you my absolute best side.

Initially in this segment, Mullins talked about his singleness and had a little fun with the notion that he occasionally heard from ladies how God had told them they were supposed to marry Rich.  Playing off that, he turned more serious re: receiving words of knowledge from fellow believers:

I believe that God speaks to us, and I believe that if we are willing to listen–and sometimes even when we’re not willing to listen–God speaks to us.  But I think it’s always dangerous to take what other people say that God has told them about you too seriously.  When someone comes to you and says, “I have a word for you from the Lord,” my recommendation is that you listen–because who knows who God is going to speak through?  Listen carefully, but [then] go back to your Scriptures and . . . to the elders of your church and make sure that before you follow [those words] too carefully or take them too seriously, make sure [the advice] lines up with a real spiritual authority.  Because there’s a lot of spiritual deception going on, and a lot of the people who [say things like this] are [well]-intended people, but what happens is they have a sensation, they have a feeling, and they confuse [those feelings] for God.

More Rich coming for the next week or two, Lord willing, including a clear-eyed look at the contemporary worship of his era and a profound word on the subject of grace.

The Lord be with you!

About Warren Anderson

Emmaus Road Worshipers is written by Dr. Warren Anderson, Director of the Demoss Center for Worship in the Performing Arts at Judson University (Elgin, Ill.), where he also directs the Judson University Choir. A Judson alumnus, he has served his alma mater in a number of capacities over the past 30+ years, especially the chapel ministry, which he led for 22 years. From 1982-2016, Dr. Anderson served six different churches--American Baptist (X2), Converge, Evangelical Free Church of America, Roman Catholic, and United Methodist--as a "weekend warrior" worship musician/pastor. He is a former member of the editorial board of Worship Leader magazine. The views expressed in this blog are not necessarily the views of Judson University.
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