Growing up in the church, I understood the value and importance of Sabbath, and especially appreciated the time off. I began boarding school at Phillips Academy in Andover, MA and eventually moved into undergrad at Yale, and school was hard. One of my biggest struggles was balancing keeping the Sabbath while still keeping up with school work, and that was a struggle that followed me into my professional work.
When I first joined Pentatonix, the band knew I was a Christian, but they did not know about the Sabbath, and while I definitely stood up for my faith for certain things, I kept the Sabbath a secret for a long time.
Eventually, my sister came to stay with me one summer, and I told her about how I was struggling, and she said something like, “If you know it is God Who has brought all of these things together with your unique talents and skills, you have to trust that by doing it God’s way and honoring Him, He will open doors in the way He’s called you. There is always a love and purpose behind how He does things.”
After that conversation, I went to my bandmates and first apologized to them. I apologized for the mistakes I made in the past and how it might affect them. It was not like they asked for Sabbath to be something that would impact their careers, especially as entertainers. Most of the work is done on Friday nights and Saturdays. And because I recognized that, I let them know that I would be happy to find another beatboxer for them if keeping Sabbath was not something I could do or something they would be able to work with. Even though none of them was Christian, I told them that this is how I need to honor God and suggested they trust God to see if He would be faithful.
What I appreciate about my band is that we are five incredibly different people, and because of that, we always provide the space for our differences to be respected. That is why they were willing to see how this would go.
Now, my bandmates love having Sabbaths off from work! And even though there are still opportunities that come up during Sabbath hours, they respect that I will not be there, especially because they know I will show up in my work with them.
That is something I have learned throughout this process. It is important to be so excellent at what you do that you make yourself irreplaceable. When you do that, the people around you will honor you for the work you do. And in my case, that means that both as an individual and as a band collectively. Oftentimes, as people, we get lazy, and when you are lazy, you cannot really honor God with the time you have, so you have to make the most of the time you have. For example, when my band sees me during the week, I always make sure I am on it and skirting in my work is never an option. It makes me think of Ephesians 5:15-17. It says: “Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore, do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.”
In other words, you cannot leave time for randomness in your day, or you will not be productive. What I ended up saying to myself was that I have to be so productive that when my band sees me, they cannot fault me for the work I do. In that way, I become irreplaceable.
Next, being irreplaceable as a band is also important. Being a five-part a cappella pop group is unique, and we want to be so excellent at what we do so that when we are asked to perform on Sabbaths and say we cannot, they are willing to accommodate us because of how excellent and unique what we do is.
In the same way, that is why honing in on the uniqueness God has given you is important. It allows you to bring something into the world that no one else can bring, and because of how excellent it is, people will be willing to make changes just to have you.
In 2015, we were going to go on a summer tour with Kelly Clarkson, and she usually tours on Friday nights. I honestly thought to myself this would be the time my band was going to kick me out. What made it more stressful was that because it was summer, the sun set late, but Kelly Clarkson did the most amazing thing. She said: “You guys are so good at what you do that on Friday nights, you go on before the sun sets, and Saturdays, you go on after the sun sets, and I will just do my set later.” This meant she would only go on at 10 pm at night while she was already a mother and pregnant. She did not have to do that, but she felt so strongly about having us on tour with her that she was willing to bend just so that we could have time off on Sabbaths. She understood it was something that we needed and what helped was that she loved what we do.
That experience showed me God’s faithfulness in honing in on everything He’s placed inside of you and understanding how He does things. That is what gives God the space to work. Be excellent at managing your time so that you can be excellent at what you do, honing in your skills and talents so that nobody can fault you for the work you do or the time you take off.
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