A lesson EC alumnus, Trenton Rodriguez ’17 quickly learned in his time as a Worship Director is that talent can only take you so far. Once you reach a certain point in your career, the platform highlights character, it doesn’t build it.
For Trenton, he believes his character was built at Emmanuel College in the School of Christian Ministries.
“What I took from Emmanuel College were lessons on individual and personal character that I gained from the SCM professors,” Trenton remembers. “If my character was not built at Emmanuel the way that I believe it was, I wouldn’t be set up for success at any church I went to. That’s what I think I took from Emmanuel.”
When asked who made an impact on his life while at Emmanuel, Trenton couldn’t choose just one person.
“It was the SCM faculty members as a whole,” he said. “When thinking about the importance of promptness and doing what you say you’re going to do, I could point that back to Dr. Mike Luper. I could point back to Pastor Tracy Reynolds and say, no matter what you’ve done or how you’ve dropped the ball, I’m going to love you with the unconditional love that Christ loves me with. I learned that it’s incredibly important to have scripture engrained in your heart and spirit from Dr. Tony Moon. I learned it’s okay to have fun in ministry from Dr. Mark Trump, and from Dr. Scott Ellington I learned that sometimes you have to get into the weeds of what the Bible says and it may not make sense right away, but it’s all worth it.”
After graduating from Emmanuel, the Jacksonville, FL native moved to West Palm Beach, Florida, where he served as a Worship Leader at a church plant. While there, he learned a lot about church leadership, healthy teams, and what goes into full-time ministry at a church that’s vibrant, healthy, and thriving. After 2.5 years, Trenton and his wife transitioned to Compassion Church in Dixon, TN. Currently, he serves as the Worship Director for Coastal Community Church in Parkland, FL.
What advice would he share with students interested in worship ministry?
“I would say find a mentor in a thriving church,” he said. “You need to find someone that has more experience than you and is doing more than you are currently able to do. You’re going to want to find someone who has built a worship team and preached a time or two. Find someone who has great connections and figure out how they made them. In the classroom, you’ll learn what the word of God says and how to interpret scripture, but as far as finding someone in ministry to learn from, you’ll have to go out and find that person yourself. No one is a “Jack of All Trades,” so if you’re expecting someone to mentor you in worship leading, how to be a better Christian, and how to have a great relationship with your spouse, you’ve found a unicorn, but odds are its not the case.”
Trenton encouraged college students to not get discouraged, even if they feel like they’ve dropped the ball.
“College is both an incredibly difficult time in your life, but it will never be easier at the same time,” he said. “With that being said, it doesn’t disqualify the pain you may be going through or the stress you may be feeling. Don’t beat yourself up if you drop the ball a time or two, keep your head up!”
As a Worship Director, Trenton learned that talent only takes you so far. Character, in his mind, builds success and he is thankful to have had his shaped at Emmanuel.