When interviewing Teresa for this article, she proudly told me that she is one of the few people here in the High Desert who was born and raised in Victorville. She went on to tell me that she teaches for the very same school district that she attended when she was a child. This has afforded her the opportunity to give back to her community in a powerful and meaningful way. She works full time as a special education teacher, and says that she is "Honored to have the privilege of working with my students and their parents."
Teresa's job as a teacher is how I came to know her. All three of my children attended the school she teaches at. She is truly interested in each student and their parents. This interest enables her to remember facts about each one, which makes them feel loved. Although her job is in itself a ministry, today I want to focus on her other ministry, leading worship.
"Music has always been a huge part of my life," she recently told me. As a child, she could be found most Saturdays in her room, singing into her hairbrush. As an adolescent, she was involved in chorus and marching band, and was the lone female saxophone player in a sea of boys, and sang in an ensemble choir in High School called the Emeraldaires. Preferring to sing alto, her choir director Mr. Howard Potter insisted that she was to sing first soprano. She was not pleased. Her choice was to sing along with Aretha Franklin, Etta James, and Bonnie Raitt. However, she was informed by Mr. Potter that he did not need another alto, and if she didn't want to sing soprano, there was no need for her in the choir because he did not tolerate divas. Since his offer was one she could not refuse, she accepted. Thankfully she did, because she now has a four-octave range.
In her senior year of High School, Teresa came to a saving knowledge of Jesus. But it took several years before she had a "Full grasp of the nature of my salvation." In her late twenties, she began to understand true grace, and "the need to develop an intimate relationship with the Savior. When I first started leading worship, I had the same attitude toward it as performance choir, so I didn't really get it. It took time to understand the purpose of worship, and the personal responsibility involved."
Indeed, this truly is a heavy responsibility. To lead worshipers into the presence of God, and to help them to prepare their hearts to receive His word, is not a thing to be taken lightly. She shared with me that is all too easy to take the admiration of musical gifts personally, instead of turning them toward God. But sitting with her for even a few minutes will bring you to the realization that she does indeed, give God the glory He deserves. Teresa has a humble spirit. Quickly praising God for His gifts, and His provision.
I asked her how she manages to balance her career, with her family life, and her ministry, and she admitted that her teaching job is a ministry in every way, but it can become all consuming, if she lets it. She tells me she is "Careful to try and balance my time. I spend a few hours each day after school to prepare my lessons and do my paper work before coming home, because it is important to me to be here fully for my family and not off somewhere grading papers. My commitment to the worship team at church requires a commitment from my entire family because it takes me away from them for several hours each Sunday. They are incredibly supportive because they understand that it is a calling from the Lord, so we plan ahead and make the best use of our time. The Lord has shown me that the main focus is always on relationships, so if I am managing my time, then I am purposefully investing in my relationships with others."
Teresa leaves us on this note, "I would encourage anyone with the gift for music, to take the calling seriously, but to take yourself worth a grain of salt!!!Too often, musicians get sucked up into the fame and fortune of performance and make it about themselves, and I've seen far too many of us destroyed by the very talent that was given to be a blessing. When we use it for our own glory, the enemy can sell us every counterfeit he can think of to keep us from lifting our voices in the praise of our Savior-it's like nails on a chalkboard to him, and he will do anything to stop it! But when we see it for the gift it is, thank the Lord for the privilege, and hold it loosely, He can move mountains in the lives of others, because it's all about Him!!!"