September’s guest post is written by my friend Craig Harmann. While we both attended the same college, we did not become friends until our family moved to the Houston area, where he and his family also live. Our oldest children became fast friends and we have shared many a meal together since we settled into our home. He also proved his patience in my failed attempt to make my daughter love piano. Like many, Craig has experienced a curvy career path, full of unexpected ups and downs. But through it all, he has been able to see God’s hand in every move..
When I graduated from college, I had my plan. My plan was that I was going to teach and direct choirs in a private Lutheran high school for about 25 years, and then transition into full-time church music ministry.
But my plan wasn’t God’s plan.
My first year of teaching was awful. I was awful. I was immature, yet thought I had all of the answers. September 11th, 2001 happened, and that put a major damper on my school’s enrollment for the 2002-2003 school year. By the end of May 2002, my teaching career was over….or so I thought.
In the 18 years following, I became that full-time church musician earlier than I thought. I also did youth ministry, taught private lessons and elementary classroom music, worked with a bunch of preschoolers, and so much more.
Fast forward to the fall of 2019. After much prayer, my wife and I became convinced that God was leading me out of full-time church music. It was the best decision for us as a family, for me spiritually, mentally and physically, and so we started making plans. I would announce to my congregation after the 1st of the year in 2020 and be finished in June of 2020. That plan was set in motion, and I started with plan A of going back into the classroom. Then, Covid hit.
Realizing that there weren’t many classroom choir directing positions available, I pivoted to plan B, teaching private lessons full-time. Then I reached out to my congregation about staying on part-time, to provide a little more financial stability for us as a family. They were on board with that.
In August, I received a phone call from the choir director at the private Christian school my wife teaches at. The choir director had just resigned because she accepted a position at a public high school. I got off the phone with her and said, “Really God????” And I’m sure He laughed. Everything changed so quickly. I started officially two days before school started and I’ve had a blast adapting to this new opportunity.
In my journey from where I started in August of 2001 to today, I’ve learned (and re-learned) many lessons. First, my plans aren’t always God’s plans. And every time I experience God redirecting my plans, I’m amazed at how much better His plans are than mine. Along with that, being flexible is key. I wanted to teach high school students because little kids scared me. In the past 19 years, guess what age group I’ve worked with the most? Little kids. At least kids in 8th grade and below. And as I learned more about those age groups and matured myself, those little kids don’t scare me! Which is probably good, because I’ve been blessed with two daughters, one 11 and one 8.
The final thing that I’ve learned is to trust that God is in control. Now that doesn’t mean that I just sit around and wait for God to work. He’s given me wisdom, understanding and the opportunity to receive counsel from others. And as I’ve matured, in every decision I’ve made, I’ve learned something from previous “mistakes” I’ve made and learned to seek more thorough input from God, from others, and from the Bible. And that’s helped immensely.
Am I anywhere that I thought I’d be in August of 2001? Not really. I am teaching, but I’m in Texas, which geographically wasn’t my plan. I’ve had a whole lot of experiences in the past 19 years, and that has shaped me, shaped my faith and I wouldn’t change a minute of it. If I did, I wouldn’t be the person I am today and where I am today. And I’m thankful for God bringing me this far, and I look forward to seeing His leading in the future.
About the Author
Craig Harmann is a husband, father, friend and living an unexpected journey called adulthood. He’s been a professional church musician since the first time he played for a worship service on Good Friday of 1993. He’s currently a part-time church musician, part-time middle and high school choir director, part-time private lesson instructor and full-time husband to Heather and dad to Ella and Emily. He’s currently building and growing a ministry to church musicians at www.churchmusicmakers.com with a membership site set to launch on November 1st.