Well, it’s the end of week #7 but I am just now writing the post for week #6. If you’re wondering why I am finally getting around to writing this right now, the answer is simple: because I am supposed to be working on my sermon for Sunday! Yes, that’s right, I ought to be studying and writing for the message, but I can’t settle my mind until I get this knocked out.
The good news is that I have an outline for Sunday. Sure enough, it came to me this morning at about 5 AM. I woke up and started writing notes in my iPhone.
Right now my mind is swimming with so much stuff. I don’t even know where to begin. I drove up to Denver to hear Rob Bell speak at Denver Seminary this morning. (Yes…I know…time I could have been spending on my sermon) Rob Bell recently released “Love Wins,” a controversial book about “heaven, hell, and the fate of every person who ever lived.” Rob graciously agreed to subject himself to a room full of seminary students and faculty to explain his views on the subject. I was so pleased to witness a generous discussion and dialogue marked by humility.
To make matters worse, I always like to use my “alone time” in the car to to listen to podcasts. On the way up north to Denver I listened to my new favorite pastor/communicator, Glenn Packiam, from New Life Church. On the way back to the Springs I listened to the always entertaining and insightful Mark Driscoll, from the left Coast “Mars Hill Church” in Seattle. (One of his best messages yet – on the issue of pride)
Can you say, “Brain Overload”?
So, I am going to shift gears for a little and focus on the book “Pure Praise.”
On page 90, Dwayne made a simple statement that could easily be overlooked if not careful. He said that if we view ourselves as nothing more than “musicians” than it could cause us to “overlook the very reasons God created music in the first place: to praise Him and to minister to other people.”
Did you catch that?
This is the “two-fold purpose” of why we sing on Sunday mornings: to praise God and give Him glory, as well as to minister to other people!
How do you view yourself in the role of worship ministry?
Are you a “song-leader”? If so, then you are the team member who just shows up in time to play and then leave. Rehearsals are a necessary evil. Just because you show up doesn’t mean you have put in any time at all outside of the rehearsal to practice and prepare. You’re just along for the ride. Allow me to quote Dwayne because I appreciate his matter-of-fact comment regarding song-leaders:
“I frankly believe God has little use for people who are content to stay at this level, which at best produces mediocrity. These pleake are ‘lukewarm’…No matter how talented they may be, if they cannot be passionate about their role in worship services, there are plenty of other ministries that could use their involvement. it’s better to have 10 people who are sold on music ministry than 100 who are just showing up.” (Pure Praise, p. 91)
Are you a “music-director”? These people aren’t content with merely showing up, but they are truly striving for excellence in what they bring to the experience of playing music. They are great musicians who are to be commended for the way they have mastered the their craft. The problem with these folks is that they cannot see past the music to the “two-fold purpose” of worship music. (see above) Excellence is of vital importance but it must take a back seat to ministry.
Are you a “minister of music”? If you are like me, you found yourself identifying with this category thinking this must be the goal. It has all the right ingredients: excellence, humility, faithfulness, service to God and man, a keen desire to change people through music as well as to be a blessing to God. Sounds good, doesn’t it?
But wait…there’s more…
Are you a “minister through music”? You desire excellence, sure, and you want to minister to the people you serve, absolutely, but as a level 4 leader you have a higher understanding. You ultimately realize that “the music isn’t the minister; you are the minister.” God uses you…and He uses me…he uses people who are willing to humbly serve Him no matter what they are doing. On-stage or off-stage, in the spotlight or outside of its brilliant allure, you are more interested in people – not what you can get from them but what you can do for them! Why this distinction?
“If we believe that our music does the minstering, once the songs stop, so do our responsibilities to the listeners. We are not obligated to minister to them beyond the ‘show’ from the platform. This approach can foster a ‘personality-driven’ ministry Musicians who see themselves as personalities tend to view their ministries as mostly what they do onstage. But true ministers are available and want to be used by God even when they’re offstage.” (Pure Praise, 92)
Honestly, do you ever struggle with this? I’ll admit that sometimes I struggle with this, and if you were honest you would admit the same thing. No? Let me ask you this way: when you find out after service that nobody could hear you singing harmony, or playing piano, or riffing on that “tasty” guitar lick you spent 5 hours learning, did you struggle with thinking, even if at least for a fleeting moment, “why do I bother doing this if nobody is going to hear me?”
Granted, there are many factors at work here. If you strive for excellence, as I do, then you hope to hear good reports from the congregation. This means everybody on the team is doing their job properly, including the tech team. In moments like this you applaud your team and you applaud God for using you in the most powerful of ways.
But is it possible that there also might be a root of pride hidden in there somewhere? (I know…blasphemy! We’re musicians, we’d never be prideful!)
What does God say about our desire to go “up”? Isn’t it that we must first be willing to go “down”? I think so. Take a look at what Jesus taught in Luke 14:7-11 when he shared the parable of the wedding feast?
Get your Bible out and read it! Ask God to reveal your true heart and motive for serving in the worship ministry. Trust me, I’m right there with you.
Check out this link to Mark Driscoll’s sermon on Luke 14:7-11. Fast forward the first 17 minutes past the announcements and “state of the church” address. Make sure you listen long enough to take the “pride” test. I know you’ll be challenged…
Have a wonderful weekend. Please leave a comment and join in the conversation!