Serving with gladness; finding contentment without the spotlight

Spotlight BeamI’ve served in the music ministry for most of my life. God has blessed me with with many gifts, several of which naturally cause me to gravitate to the front. But believe it or not I find my greatest fulfillment serving behind the scenes. Honestly though, that’s not the case for many people in music ministry. Quite often a member of the choir, praise team or other group develops a very strong desire to be out front in some capacity. Sadly though, that opportunity is not always afforded to everyone that wants it.

There could be any number of reasons someone who wants to come to the front may not be allowed to. It could be that the position or task is just not the best fit for the person for whatever reason. Sometimes it’s just a personnel issue. But the enemy seldom allows us to see things as they really are. Especially in music ministry, where the gathering of so many different personality types, egos and agendas make it an easy target.

Sadly, even in the most innocent of circumstances the devil can make a person believe there is all kinds of hatred and favoritism at work that is keeping you from being allowed to lead a song, or direct, or serve in whatever leadership capacity you’re seeking. We could go back and forth at length about the particulars, and I could give a list of all the possible reasons you’re not being given the opportunity you believe you deserve. I understand that it’s frustrating. It’s hard to have the desire to serve on a higher level and feel like you’re being held back. But honestly, it is seldom as it seems, my friend. The devil knows that music is one of the most powerful and effective tools God has given us for the building and edification of His kingdom. So he is always seeking ways to sow discord and division by playing against our own vanities.

The truth is, you will always be an easy target for his tricks and manipulative ways until you find a place of contentment in your service. To thwart the efforts of the enemy you must get to a place where you are completely happy and satisfied just serving in the music ministry. That’s easier said than done, I know. Because it takes some serious renewing of your mind. One thing I’m always teaching on some level or another, no matter what aspect of music ministry I’m talking about, is understanding the bigger picture. How your efforts contribute to the success or failure of the ministry, and how the ministry as a whole affects so many other things and touches so many people.

It’s learning to look beyond your own limited field of vision. This is the secret of those who are always content no matter what they’re doing in the music department. I know people who can sing until the hairs on your neck stand up. They are accomplished leaders and soloists. Their names around our church are synonymous with really good singing. And yet if we go for months without ever calling them down front to lead, you’ll see them smiling and singing and praising God right there in their section.

You can only reach that level of pure contentment in service when you really understand how important every single person is to a music ministry. You see my friends I just mentioned know that even when they’re just singing in their section they’re making a very important contribution to our ability to serve effectively as a unit. But being happy in the background goes even deeper than that.

The bible tells us in scripture after scripture to avoid doing things to be seen of men. Or to be praised or glorified of ourselves. Look at this example:

Collosians 3-23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving

This is just one example of a theme we see recurring throughout the bible. A message of being content in your service and not seeking to be seen or praised by men. To reach that place of contentment in music ministry you have to see the importance of what you do as an individual to the success or failure of the music ministry. I spoke at a choir annual one year and I referred to this concept as “The Ministry Of Me”. I told the choir that year that even though only one person wears the official title of “Minister Of Music”, every single person that is involved in a music ministry is indeed a minister of music. It’s a very sobering and powerful thing to think of yourself that way. Not just as a “member” but a minister of music. What you do is not “just” singing or just playing. It’s ministry. It’s YOUR ministry, and your calling right where you are.

Just like the ministers who sit on the pulpit but never bring the message, every person in the music department plays a critical supporting role in it’s success. If for some reason I became unable to play keyboard tomorrow I’d sure miss it. But the very next Sunday I’d be up there in the Tenor section rocking it out and singing to the glory and honor of God. I’m a leader too, but I go for months- sometimes years- without leading a song. And I’m completely happy and totally content with that. Because you see, when you have a deep, unwavering passion for music ministry, you just want to be a part of it. If your reason for being there is genuine that’s enough to make you happy. I encourage you to seek that place of contentment.

By the way, I know another young lady who, for many many years, has sang alto for our choir. She has never wanted to lead a song. We’ve asked her many times over the years. But she was much more content just singing alto. Only she doesn’t “just” sing alto. She’s one of the strongest, most consistent, most reliable, most depended on altos up there. And every Sunday you can find her singing right there in the alto section, her hands going up, tears flowing, completely and utterly happy without the glare of the spotlight. And it is because of her years of happily serving God, never seeking leadership or accolades, that God favored her and elevated her to the position of choir president.

She runs the whole choir but you’d never be able to pick her out if you didn’t know her. Because every Sunday she’s standing right there where she’s always stood. In the choir stand, singing alto, hands going up, tears flowing, completely and utterly happy…without the glare of the spotlight.


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20 Responses to Serving with gladness; finding contentment without the spotlight

  1. Temmy says:

    Thanks so much my brothe,this is really for me and my choristers.Its true and its happening presently in or church.This is an eye opener.Thanks mr Ron,you instuction has always been on poin.God bless you and your ministry.

  2. Comfort says:

    This is so true. i thank God for making me read this as a confirmation of what role he wants me play in the choir ministry. i have been in several choir ministry for years and just enjoy writing out songs to be used by the choir and not necessarily being the soloist!
    Sometimes its very tricky like you said cos the enemy may make you feel yopu are supposed to take higher positions but contentment is the key and being happy with what you know God has called you to do sets you at liberty.
    Thank you so much for sharing this with us all. God increase your ministry the more!

  3. Comfort S.O says:

    This is so true. i thank God for making me read this as a confirmation of what role he wants me play in the choir ministry. i have been in several choir ministry for years and just enjoy writing out songs to be used by the choir and not necessarily being the soloist!
    Sometimes its very tricky like you said cos the enemy may make you feel yopu are supposed to take higher positions but contentment is the key and being happy with what you know God has called you to do sets you at liberty .
    Thank you so much for sharing this with us all. God increase your ministry the more!

  4. chika says:

    God asked you to send this because of me. You just saved a soul, thank you so much,

  5. nwaka says:

    Thanks for this piece Ron. I must confess I an very guilty of this and Lord, I’m repent of this. I’m ready to enjoy music ministry in contentment.

  6. Dewanda says:

    I love this article, although I am afflicted with guilt sometimes because I don’t want to be in the forefront. I would rather be in the background or singing along in the choir but am always called upon to lead a solo. Allow me to explain and ask for some advice…The church I am in now is just starting, we don’t have a choir, musician, nor a Praise team. I believe in what the man of God is preaching and I am in agreement with what the Lord put in his heart for his ministry, however, Pastor does something that is just unacceptable in my personal opinion for music ministry and makes me cringe just thinking about it….He sings over praise & Worship cd’s in the service! I mean WITH the artist singing on the track! I absolutely abhor it. I feel like I cannot tell him this though, because he thinks it’s ok. He wants me to be involved in singing more variety of songs but I only have a few choice solo instrumentals (which I do not favor singing to at all) to work with! I have mentioned to him to look into a musician but it is out of the question for now. Am I being unreasonable for not wanting to participate in music ministry unless there is a real live musician to work with? I’ve done the other stuff in the past and it just feels artificial and very limiting to me. Please help. I think I will make this comment a letter to you also. Thanks to anyone with advice.

  7. mark says:

    Yes so true and a hard lesson to learn, to be the greatest requires us to be the servant of all and really great leaders are always the ones that quietly get on with things with out drawing attention to themselves.

  8. Derrick says:

    its a very good observation nd pronounce you have published. thats the gospel truth….am humbled by dis article. God bless you Ron….

  9. Alyce says:

    I don’t think the sentiments expressed in this excellent post can possibly be expressed enough! When it was initially posted I thought it was on point. Since then I have seen where there are saints who are in “music ministry” and don’t perceive themselves as “Ministers of Music.” That’s a very large gap, a huge disconnect. So periodic posting of this info is called for! thanks, Bro. Ron!

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  13. I love the message of your post here Ron. Being content with what God has given you for that moment is important, because I do believe that it leads to better things. I’ve learnt that it is just as important to do our best ‘behind the scenes’ even when we want to be front of house. Sometimes it’s good to remember that even though we might not feel appreciated by others, God sees everything. The big and the small!

  14. I was just reading in Ephesians today, 1-3… about “oneness.” And it caused me to consider what the Lakota Indians taught me about oneness and how they never consider themselves, as individuals. When they pray, it is never for just themselves, they are always including their relations. It’s all about being connected. And then I thought about the Body of Christ and our Oneness in Him, with Christ as our head. And I thought how much freedom that gives us… for if we all love each other unconditionally, it really doesn’t matter if we are more visible or more invisible. To me, it gives me such freedom to no longer think of my “self” at all, but rather, to think in terms of team.

    I like your quote: “you will always be an easy target for his tricks and manipulative ways until you find a place of contentment in your service.”

    Contentment… no longer “me” but “we” … 🙂

  15. Claudia Looi says:

    I remember serving as a Children’s Christmas Play Director years ago when a parent complained and threatened me because the daughter was not in the spotlight. Imagine the harm he had done to his child. Great article and reminder of Col 3:23-24.

  16. Penny says:

    Great Article Ron!! Inspired me to serve more. I am background person, no spotlight for me! 🙂 I jsut had a girlfriend talk about this with me, she was so angry about having to clean the bathrooms week after week after the church allowed others to use their building and left them disgusting, one day she went to clean them, when she heard a women in the bathroom worshiping God with all her heart, to the point where my friend was brought to tears, this women had taken it upon herself to clean the bathrooms. My friend was brought to deep conviction according to the scripture you posted Collosians 3-23. She was taught that day by a total stranger what it meant to humbly serve with all she had unto the Lord, toilets and all..;-) needless to say she has a different out look on serving no matter what it is. So do I and you just reinforced that! Thank you!

  17. Very good article, Ron. Believe it or not, this applies to the art world too. I have often thought it would be wonderful to be “in the spotlight” and be famous. However, recognizing that it is the service to God by just using my gift that He has given me is the most important thing to Him. It is really His choice to promote anyone when they are ready. It is all about serving each other.

  18. Ron, I agree with Olga… this article is good for any area of ministry. We are serving as unto Christ in all that we do, not seeking man’s approval. I know that’s easier said than done. However, when we keep that at the forefront of our thoughts, we have a much greater chance of reaching that goal and keeping our motives pure. We also need to learn that just because we aren’t picked for a task doesn’t mean we aren’t fit for it or are rejected. God simply might have a better place for us… even if it’s scrubbing the toilets in the bathrooms!

  19. Matthew Reed says:

    In any ‘up-front’ ministry it is easy to get side-tracked by ego and pride. I know as a young pastor I got pretty puffed up by “That was a great message” comments. So much so, that when they didn’t happen, I’d second guess myself for weeks.
    James tells us that “God opposes the proud, and gives grace to the humble.” I know that I really want grace! When people appreciate me I make sure to thank them, and give thanks to God for His goodness.
    A church I know in Ohio makes sure that everyone involved in presenting music or drama in worship services serve an ‘internship’ first in a behind the scenes role. Wrapping cables, copying music and scripts, etc. as a means to elevate ALL parts of service.

    btw, you’re super blessed to have that alto in your choir!
    Great reminder to make what we do about Jesus.

  20. Olga Hermans says:

    This is so true in every area of the ministry; if we desire to be part of the ministry to be seen, we are deceived. I have seen this many times and I must say, it looks ugly. But when you see a person do the minsitry to glorify God, it is a beautiful and it makes you even wnat to draw closer to the Lord than before because you want to have whay they have….you can see God’s favor on them. Thanks Ron for always instructing us.

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