Passion Wins You Favor With God, And With People: A Case Study

So I have this friend. We grew up together attending the same church. We both sang in the choir practically all our lives. For most of those years I directed and taught.

She sat under my teaching for all those years. She’s an amazing singer who is passionate about music ministry. So when I would teach concepts and new things she would always be the first to embrace them. She loved God, loved singing for Him and loved anything that had to do with learning more about how to serve Him better.

Fast-forward 30 years. We’re both adults now, still working together in the choir. I’m still teaching, she’s still in the soprano section, killin’ it. Practically knowing her part before I teach it now because she has soaked up everything I taught for so many years.

Then suddenly we hear that her husband has been re-located to another state and she’d be leaving us. We were devastated of course. She was a tremendous asset.

Shortly after she got established there they found a new church. Of course she went straight to the music department. To make a long story short, she passed every evaluation and audition task they asked of her with flying colors. They were amazed by how much she already knew.

2 or 3 years later her husband’s assignment ended and it was time to move back to Texas. As they began looking for a new church home in Texas people she worked under in her old church began to send out word about her to people they knew in Texas.

One of those churches was looking for someone to head up their music department. My friend had never done anything like this before. Had no experience running a music ministry.

But guess what she did have? She had favor. Her passion, dedication, enthusiasm for learning and serving God in excellence went ahead of her and opened a door for her to step into something she never dreamed she would be doing.

My friend is now running the music department at a church here in Dallas. Now, here’s where the story comes full circle. My friend knew a lot about harmony, how to hear it and how to put it together, but she wasn’t yet where she wanted to be. She had also taken on many more duties at her church and basically didn’t have as much time to devote to it any more.

So she went to the board and ask them if she could hire someone to come in and teach songs on rehearsal nights. And whom do you suppose she recommended first? I’m going there tonight to conduct a rehearsal; with a strong possibility that I could land the job permanently. See how that works?

You don’t have to seek the spotlight. God will shine it on you. You don’t have to kick down doors. God will open them for you. You don’t have to complain about being denied opportunities. God will give you favor over people you KNOW are more qualified. All you have to do is serve God in this ministry with all your heart and give Him your best. Do it because you love it, and because you love HIM. There is a saying that goes “Your actions speak so loudly that I cannot hear what you say.” Here’s a really good full-circle example of how that can work.

Be encouraged.
Ron

How To Reach Every Goal You Set For This Year (or any year)

Well, here we are gang. Well into another year. Looking ahead with high hopes, optimism, goals defined. Sound familiar? It should, because many of us were in the same spot this time last year, looking at the same goals we find ourselves NOT having attained this year.

If I’m being honest with you, that’s where I found myself more than once. Especially in business. Year after year I have made promises and said to myself “this will be my year”. But not much changed in my business. Things didn’t necessarily get worse, but they didn’t get much better.

I finally had to get really honest with myself and realize that if I wanted to really see this thing be successful I was going to have to start really putting forth an effort to learn what I didn’t know. I had to come to grips with the fact that what I had been doing so far simply wasn’t working. And the fact is, what I was doing was “not much”. More about that in a moment.

But you see I believed, like most Christians, that when God has told you to do something, or promised something for you life, it would all come automatically. Haven’t you heard people say that? “If God told you to do it you’ll know because doors will fling open for you and all the traffic lights will turn green just as you approach them and people will be showing up bringing you everything you need….” You get the idea. People believe that when God has promised you something it will come easy and without much effort on your part. However the Bible doesn’t seem to support that, does it?

The most glaring example of that to me is the children of Israel. God promised them the new land. A land flowing with milk and honey. It was absolutely, positively theirs, guaranteed. And yet even with that assurance, they couldn’t just walk in and set up camp. They had to “possess it”. They had to go and fight powerful enemies and defeat them. Yeah. It was their land, but it was in possession of their enemies. God gave them favor over their enemies, but He didn’t give them the promised land without effort on their part.

So many of us are not reaching our goals because of a sheer lack of real effort on our part. We think because we can sing, all we have to do is sing somewhere and people will flood us with offers to come sing somewhere else. And they’ll tell 2 friends, and so-on, and so-on, and so-on. And even if that does happen (and it does for some people) people who find themselves with a full calendar realize after not much time that they lack the skill, training and wisdom to keep it going.

Most of us don’t know how much we don’t know. We go about our daily lives, blissfully unaware that God has placed in front of us everything we need to attain the promise, and we are simply not “possessing it”. We are waiting for doors to fling open on their own when God has given us everything we need to simply turn the door knob and walk through.

Getting back to my own story, I came to the realization a few months ago that I wasn’t achieving success in my business because I simply wasn’t putting forth the effort to learn how to market it properly. I, like many small business owners, was simply trying stuff. Throwing ideas against the wall. Reading an occasional article. Throwing a little money at this thing or that thing. But I finally had to get real with myself and resolve to do what ever it takes to increase my knowledge. To get the training. Learn the skill-sets I needed. And I still continue to do that.

As I started following business coaches, reading about marketing and growing a business, learning new skills, I came to a stark realization. I’m gonna need to spend some money to go to the next level. I’ve simply learned all I can learn free. So I looked into the costs involved in taking my training to the next level. I know for me, that is hiring a professional business coach. I had to do the same thing to become trained to be a vocal coach, so why wouldn’t I have to do it for my business?

And the thing is, God showed me how my own mental blocks were my hindrance. He showed me that my “reasons” for not moving forward were really nothing more than excuses. One of the business coaches I had been following actually called me one day. We began to talk about the things I desired in my business and my goals for the coming year. And I began to go into my same old song and dance about how I really want to but just don’t have the money. “It’s the ultimate catch-22″, I told her. ” I know I can make more money by working with you, but I need to make more money to work with you.”

What she said to me next confirmed something God had already put inside of me but I wasn’t accepting. She said “I want you to change that mindset. I want you to stop saying “I don’t have the money to do it” or “I can’t afford to do it”. She continued “I want you to instead start thinking more along the lines of ‘ok, this is how much I need to do it’ and then start looking for ways to make it happen.” That was really powerful for me. Because I understood then that when I started putting forth the effort God would begin making ways.

Both for me and for you, reaching our goals this year boils down to adopting one word as our motivator. The word is “INVEST”. This, for me, is not just a business. It’s also a ministry. God showed me that in order to really be successful I have to be able to reach many, many more people. Doing so will allow me to be a blessing on a much larger scale. To do that I need to INVEST. I need to invest my time, my talent, my emotions, my heart and yes, my MONEY.

I can’t just show up here and write a blog twice a week and expect people to come, guys. That’s good, but it simply isn’t enough. Even for the blog to be successful I have to market it. If I don’t then nobody sees it, including people God has chosen to be blessed by it. So one of my top priorities last year were to find ways to earn that extra money I need to invest in my business/ministry. I’ve identified what that is, and now it’s time to make it happen. I’ve already planned to work more overtime. I’ve moved into a smaller place. I go out less.

I’ve decided, in other words, to invest in my ministry and my business. If you hope to reach any of your goals this year, you will have to come to the same realization. Even if your ministry is just a ministry and not a business at all, you must invest in that ministry. You must invest in yourself, your skills, your training. You must invest your time. You must, because if you don’t, the ministry cannot survive. Anything that doesn’t grow in some way eventually starts to wither and die.

So I challenge you, as my business coach challenged me, to stop making excuses and start making plans. Stop saying “I don’t have it” and start saying “how can I get it”. Change your mindset and you’ll change your results this year. That business coach told me to decided on a date I wanted to get started with her and make it my business to do everything in my power to find a way to earn the extra money I needed to start on that date.

I’m issuing you the same challenge. Don’t make the mistake of thinking because God gave you a gift, a ministry, a purpose, that there is nothing else for you to do but show up every Sunday. Don’t make the mistake of thinking your having found me out of millions of sites across the world-wide-web is just coincidence. I know for a fact it isn’t, because I fought tooth and nail against focusing my business specifically on on helping music ministries. Traditionally anything Christ-centered or Gospel-focused has a much harder time of succeeding in business, and I was well aware of it.

But God wouldn’t let me put this aside. He dropped in my spirit one day simply this: “I didn’t give you over 30 years of experience in music ministry for you to share your knowledge with just this one church and a few other people right around town.” He told me it was time to share it with a much bigger audience. And, like we always do, I went looking for proof that the audience was actually out there. I didn’t find any. I looked on Google and used their search tools to find out how many people are actually searching for stuff like this. I didn’t find many.

Yet He told me to do it. He told me you were out there, looking. But even though He told me to do this- even though I have His promise that there will be people out there looking for the training services and products He’ll bless me to provide- He helped me to understand that I’d still need to work hard, learn new things, create new skills, and spend money on this business/ministry in order to reach them.

If I don’t I never attain what God promised me. Doesn’t mean I did what He said and it didn’t work. Doesn’t mean I “thought” He said it and He really didn’t. It means He set it before me and I simply didn’t possess it. If I do my part He will do His.

So my battle cry this year- my one word motivator that will keep me on track- is the word INVEST. If I invest in myself, my ministry and my business- both my time and my money- I know that I can’t help but be successful. I’m challenging you to join me and adopt this new mindset for this year and every year. No more “I don’t have”. From here on, it’s “how can I get”. No more waiting for things to come to us. No more standing in front of doors and simply refusing to turn the door-knob. This year let’s “MAKE” it happen. This year let’s POSSESS what God has already promised us.

 

 

How your musical gift is like a Sweet Potato Pie

Thanksgiving day in America is steeped in tradition, the most important of which is the tradition for families and friends all over the country to come together and break bread. While everyone has their own favorite food staples, you’re almost sure to find Sweet Potato Pie on the menu at most gatherings. So I thought it would be a fun, visual way to look at a basic, fundamental truth regarding how all singers and musicians in music ministry should see their gift.  I’ll use myself and a fictitious friend in this little story to make it easy.

So imagine with me for a few minutes. It’s Thanks Giving day. I’ve spent all night long making my prize-winning Sweet Potato Pie. But I have to go in to work for a half a day and I don’t want the pie to arrive to the family dinner too late for everyone to enjoy. So I ask my friend to take it with her to the family dinner and I’ll join everyone later.

A few hours later at the family gathering everyone has finished dinner and is starting on the dessert table. A few people get a slice of the Sweet Potato Pie and start raving to my friend about it. “Oh my God Janice this pie is amazing!” “Girl you did your thing with this!” The complements keep coming as word gets around the house about how good the pie is. Meanwhile Janice is glowing and enjoying all the complements. Smiling and thanking everyone for the kind words. “Oh, thank you! God bless you! I’m so glad you like it so much!”

Later I arrive at the dinner after work ready to eat. it doesn’t take long for people to start coming up to me raving about how good my friend’s Sweet Potato Pie is. They go on and on about how great a cook she is, and how they’ve never had pie like that. And how I should really take some lessons from her!

I look at her and smile, but I don’t say anything. After all, I love her. She’s my friend. I would never embarrass her. But I know in my heart that SHE knows she didn’t bake that pie. She only delivered it. And I can’t understand why she wouldn’t give me the credit for it. Why wouldn’t she just say “oh thank you but actually Ron made it. I just delivered it for him”. I may never scold her or punish her or even mention it to her again. But the next time I need to choose someone to deliver something I created I’d be a lot more careful to choose someone whom I know won’t take the glory for themselves.

As singers, musicians, directors and worship leaders…whatever your gift is, we should all endeavor to think of our gifts just like that Sweet Potato Pie.  It’s not our creation. It doesn’t belong to us. We didn’t bake it, we were simply the ones God chose to deliver it to His people. So when the praises, kudos and complements come, we must always be sure to never take the credit for a pie we didn’t bake.

 

Commitment Defined: How To Stay Dedicated Without Losing Your Passion

One of the most common threads among all of us that work in music ministry is the on-going struggle with just staying motivated and happy. Fighting burn-out. Dealing with the delicate balance of being dedicated to the ministry and still having a life. The whole balance thing is the thing I struggle with most, honestly. But one thing I haven’t struggled with much over the years is being on my post. consistently being at rehearsal every single time, ready to go. Consistently being on my post every Sunday morning, ready to play, direct, or sing.

A lot of people do struggle with such things though, which explains why so many choirs and praise teams struggle with absentee-ism. And even though we all tend to think so, it’s not always a willful thing for those that are guilty of it. Sometimes, I believe, it’s more about a lack of commitment. Many of us start out with great intentions to do something only to find ourselves struggling to keep our promise, or even quitting altogether.

I committed to myself that I’d learn guitar earlier this year. I was excited. I couldn’t wait to get the money to purchase my guitar and get started. Weeks later though, I found myself not practicing. It was just harder than I thought. The instrument itself was harder than I thought it would be, but more than that it was a matter of “finding the time” to commit to practicing. I placed that in quotes because, as any musician will tell you, that’s not something you find the time for. It’s something you make the time for. So is anything else you have a strong enough desire to do.

In one on-line dictionary I found commitment defined as:

1. The state or quality of being dedicated to a cause, activity, etc. (as in a teacher’s commitment to her students, or a company’s commitment to quality)

2. An engagement or obligation that restricts freedom of action. (I have a prior commitment).

Definition number 2 for me has always worked for my ministry at my church. Simply put, rehearsal nights are off limits. I’ve never booked voice lessons, taken engagements or anything else on Wednesday nights, because Wednesday nights are rehearsal nights. So whether we actually have a rehearsal scheduled or not, I’ve always treated Wednesday night as a standing engagement; a prior commitment. I view Sunday mornings the same way.

In fact I’ve been so adamant and consistent with this over the years that everyone who knows me already knows I’m busy on Wednesdays and Sundays.  And I think in order to stay committed and dedicated to anything- ministry, learning a new instrument or anything else, we have to make that thing a standing engagement. A commitment that everything else must adjust to and revolved around. When we do that staying dedicated to a thing becomes a lifestyle and a habit. It becomes automatic. Something you miss when you don’t do it.

This has worked really well for me in my ministry because not only have I made it a standing commitment but a way of life. So everything else always revolves around and adjusts to those standing commitments, because, as definition number 2 above says, I’ve taken away the “freedom” do do anything else during those times. The failure to do that is the biggest reason most people don’t stick to their commitments, no matter what they are. It’s also the reason I’m not practicing my new guitar.

When learning it becomes important enough to me to give practicing it a place of priority, I will do with it what I’ve done with Wednesday night rehearsals, Sunday morning ministry, daily posting to my fan page and weekly blogs here. I will give it a place of importance. I will make a commitment. I will set a rehearsal time and treat it as “an engagement or obligation that restricts freedom of action”. And as soon as I do, the flow of my daily life will begin to adjust around that time slot and make space for it. As we always do for the things that are most important to us.

Paul’s Message Message Of Encourage To Single Believers

 

It is a FACT that not everyone likes Valentine’s Day. That’s probably because not everyone is “boo’d up”, so the day feels kind of cruel and dismissive to people who aren’t in a relationship of some kind. I was one of those people when I wrote this. Then I remembered that Paul actually talked about the subject of being single.

So I thought about taking Paul’s message, breaking it down and giving commentary on it, talking about what it means, etc. But then I thought, nah. Paul was doing a pretty good job of that on his own. So I’m just going to post the passage and let you read it in his own words. My hope is that if you do find yourself single today that you’ll be encouraged also. Take note of what Paul is saying here about the advantages of being single for someone who is in ministry. Happy Valentine’s Day!

1 Cor. 7:25-40

25 Now concerning the virgins (the marriageable [a]maidens) I have no command of the Lord, but I give my opinion and advice as one who by the Lord’s mercy is rendered trustworthy and faithful.

26 I think then, because of the impending distress [that is even now setting in], it is well (expedient, profitable, and wholesome) for a person to remain as he or she is.

27 Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be free. Are you free from a wife? Do not seek a wife.

28 But if you do marry, you do not sin [in doing so], and if a virgin marries, she does not sin [in doing so]. Yet those who marry will have physical and earthly troubles, and I would like to spare you that.

29 I mean, brethren, the appointed time has been [b]winding down and it has grown very short. From now on, let even those who have wives be as if they had none,

30 And those who weep and mourn as though they were not weeping and mourning, and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing, and those who buy as though they did not possess anything,

31 And those who deal with this world [[c]overusing the enjoyments of this life] as though they were not absorbed by itand as if they had no dealings with it. For the outward form of this world (the present world order) is passing away.

32 My desire is to have you free from all anxiety and distressing care. The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord—how he may please the Lord;

33 But the married man is anxious about worldly matters—how he may please his wife—

34 And he is drawn in diverging directions [his interests are divided and he is distracted from his devotion to God]. And the unmarried woman or girl is concerned and anxious about the matters of the Lord, how to be wholly separated andset apart in body and spirit; but the married woman has her cares [centered] in earthly affairs—how she may please her husband.

35 Now I say this for your own welfare and profit, not to put [a halter of] restraint upon you, but to promote what is seemly and in good order and to secure your undistracted and undivided devotion to the Lord.

36 But if any man thinks that he is not acting properly toward and in regard to his virgin [that he is preparing disgrace for her or incurring reproach], in case she is passing the bloom of her youth and if there is need for it, let him do what to him seems right; he does not sin; let them marry.

37 But whoever is firmly established in his heart [strong in mind and purpose], not being forced by necessity but having control over his own will and desire, and has resolved this in his heart to keep his own virginity, he is doing well.

38 So also then, he [the father] who gives his virgin (his daughter) in marriage does well, and he [the father] who does not give [her] in marriage does better.

39 A wife is bound to her husband by law as long as he lives. If the husband dies, she is free to be married to whom she will, only [provided that he too is] in the Lord.

40 But in my opinion [a widow] is happier (more blessed and [d]to be envied) if she does not remarry. And also I think I have the Spirit of God.

Be Careful What You Preach, Minister Of Music (You’ll Eventually Have To Practice It)!

I got some news just the other day that, in one fell swoop would force me to actually use every piece of advice I had given in any blog about music ministry attitude, mindset and service, dedication, passion….you name it.

It was un-expected. It blindsided me. Overwhelmed my thoughts. And yes, angered me.
At the moment I got the news my mind instantly flashed back to that one I wrote about The 5 second rule of music ministry. Trust me, I needed it right then. I was able to quickly get my emotions and feelings under control so I could discuss the matter calmly with my dear friend and co-laborer in the music ministry for over 30 years now.

As I continued to think about the situation-one that would dramatically change and add to my list of responsibilities in my music department- I started to think about other blogs I’d written about things like serving with gladness, and not allowing your passion for music ministry to wither until you’re serving on auto-pilot.

In short, I just wasn’t feeling this change. But then I realized I’d written a blog about what to do when you’re not feeling it too. Yes, it seemed that for every negative thought I had, God reminded me of a blog where I had already addressed it. And here I was thinking I was writing all this stuff to bless and encourage YOU.

But I’m already doing so much, I thought. We have 4 choirs in rotation, I complained to my friend and minister of music. I have to teach all the songs for all of those groups. Plus my duties as a musician. And now this added to all that. It’s just a lot. “I understand”, she said calmly, as if she hasn’t been dealing with this very thing all her life there as the go-to person for pretty-much everything.

That’s ok though, I told her. We’ll do what we have to do. We’ll make it work. Sunday I woke up and I just felt heavy. Not in the right frame of mind for music ministry. So I stayed home and spent a few extra hours with my boys. I took the time to really think and re-adjust my thinking and attitude (oh yeah, I wrote about that too).

And before thoughts of burn-out and discouragement could creep in, God brought that blog back to me as well. Soon I found myself moving from feelings of frustration and overwhelm to almost excitement.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still not happy about this change, how it will affect me or even how it came about. But I’m absolutely pumped and ready to challenge it head on. And do so with all of the enthusiasm I encourage of others.

Yup, in life it’s a good idea to be careful what you “preach”. Because you will certainly get your opportunity to practice it all, soon enough.  :O)

If you’re going to stay, be dedicated

“If you’re going to stay, be dedicated”. No, that’s not what I’m telling you. It’s what God told me Sunday evening, driving home from an engagement with the choir. He didn’t say it in those words exactly. Sometimes He doesn’t have to say anything at all, you know what I mean? It’s just that heavy feeling of conviction that you get sometimes. Suddenly things become clear and you get an epiphany without anyone saying anything at all.

Such was the case Sunday evening driving home from a musical where our choir was scheduled to sing.  People were missing. Important people. Musicians. Our director. Tenors. But I was there and Monica, my dear friend and minister of music was there. So I could stand in as director and other musicians there could help her out with the song. And we had a choir.

We  were first on the program. We go up, I stand in as director, Monica plays for us with help from other musicians that were there, and everything goes fine. You must be thinking at this point “sounds like everything worked out, what’s the problem?” You’re right, everything did.

But in the hallway after we exited the choir stand Monica came up to me and said “I was so scared, Ron. I thought I was going to have to try to direct and play in front of all these people. I didn’t see you back there.”

Again, I was there to direct, we had all the choir members we needed and everything worked out. But I couldn’t feel good about it because as soon as Monica came up to me and expressed how upset she was before she found out I was there, it’s like God slammed into my head every instance I had put her in that position before by not being there myself like others weren’t there that time. Even if everyone else was.

You kinda have to be familiar with the traditions and practices of Pentecostal/Church Of God In Christ denomination to really understand how often this situation occurs. In the COGIC denomination it’s very common for these “evening services” to occur several times a month, either at your own church or at someone else’s.  You go to your regular Sunday morning service and serve, get out for an hour or two and then you’re back for a second service, usually dismissing around 7.

So music departments are constantly on the go and constantly going to second services. They make for some very long days. Over the years I’d become jaded with the whole thing to the point I was starting to wonder if it was time to switch denominations. But I didn’t feel like I was hearing that from God. I felt like it was my own frustrations with denominational traditions and whatever else I decided to have a problem with.

So rather than leave over it I decided I would simply find my own balance. I’d go to these extra things when I felt like it, as long as I took care of home events. Over time I became known for NOT going to engagements away from the church and was simply not expected to be there.

I hope you’re getting a better picture of what’s going on here and why this particular Sunday ended up being a defining moment for me as far as my ministry is concerned. You see, today I had made up my mind I was going; first because it was a special request of our pastor that we all be there. Secondly I’d really been trying to make an effort to simply be more faithful about going to outside engagements.

So I was there, and thank God I was. But God wasn’t about to allow me to feel like I had come in and “saved the day” or something, no. When my friend of over 30 years walked up to me in that hallway, looked into my eyes and told me how panicked she was in the seconds leading up to  mounting the choir stand…knowing she didn’t have her band there to help her and thinking she didn’t have a director either…I thought of all the other times she must have been the only musician. Even worse though, I thought “what if I hadn’t came today?”

Our drummer and bass player were arriving as we were leaving the parking lot, over an hour late to the engagement. I was angry. But really all it did was heap more coals onto my own head.
I felt so much personal conviction in that car driving down the highway. I didn’t hear any voices, guys. I didn’t think the words. I didn’t hear a small still voice in my head. I didn’t hear my conscious talking to me.

I just knew everything at once. I knew that whatever issues I was having with COGIC and the way they do things, as long as I was going to stay I was simply going to have to be more dedicated. It’s funny because we had a meeting at work one day about a bunch of changes and all the challenges they were causing us.

The regional manager put it this way. “I understand that things are tough. I’m dealing with a lot of stuff I don’t like and I’m not happy with. But at the end of the day if I don’t like it I can walk. I can vote with my feet,” he said. “But as long as I decide to stay I understand that I OWN it.”.

That’s what I felt like God was telling me in that car, without saying anything to me at all. If I feel like it’s time for me to go then I need to pray about it, get confirmation and start looking for a new church home. But for as long as I feel like I’m supposed to be where I am, I need to be dedicated. I need to own my position and all the responsibilities that come with it. Regardless of how I feel about anything outside of that music ministry, that’s my job for as long as I “own it”.

About halfway home I sent my friend a text message that read:  “I’ll be there from now on, Monica”.

How to never miss another rehearsal

One thing that often plagues many must ministry groups, whether it’s a choir, praise team or even the band, is a absentee-ism at rehearsal. For some music departments it’s not uncommon at all to have so many people out that the songs that were on schedule to sing simply can’t be done. Members missing rehearsal can really cripple a music ministry in so many ways. But hey, life happens doesn’t it? Many people do in fact have what they feel are legitimate reasons for being out on rehearsal nights. Perhaps you may even be someone who misses rehearsal often.

Don’t worry, I’m not here to condemn or judge. In fact my goal is to first encourage you and then offer some advice that has helped me to have an almost perfect attendance record over a span of some 30+ years. I can count the number of rehearsals I’ve missed in all that time. It’s not that I’m not busy, or tired. It’s not that I never get offered other things to do. But we’ll talk more about that in a bit. First I want you to know that you’re very important to your music department. Even if they fail to ever tell you or make you feel like you are, you are NEEDED. When you’re not there, your absence is felt. No matter how big your organization is, I want you to know that they need you.

Many habitual rehearsal-missers aren’t missing rehearsal to be vindictive or spiteful. They aren’t doing so to intentionally put the music ministry in a bind. Many people are just busy. But when you love something enough it will get a special reserved time slot in your life. Many people consistently miss rehearsal simply because they haven’t given it such a place of importance. Don’t get me wrong, you can absolutely sincerely love singing in the choir. But rehearsal? Not so much.  Who knows why? It could be any number of things. But if it’s something you desire to change there’s something you can do.

I mentioned earlier that in over 30 years in the music ministry I can count the number of times I missed a rehearsal. But it’s not because I’m never busy or never have other things I need to do on rehearsal night. It’s just I’ve given rehearsal night a place of high priority. All of  our rehearsals happen on Wednesdays. So I have, for years, simply dedicated Wednesday nights for rehearsals. That means no matter what someone is asking me to do on a Wednesday, it’s already booked. I don’t teach voice lessons on Wednesday. I don’t accept engagements on Wednesday. I don’t set appointments, plan dates, watch tv shows or anything else on Wednesday. Nothing short of an emergency or serious illness causes me to miss rehearsal.

If I wanted to know the things that were most important to you in your life, I wouldn’t have to ask you. Just let me follow you around for a while. It will become obvious after only a few days. Because those things will be the things around which all other aspects of your life have learned to revolve. If you’re someone who really loves to work-out, for example (yes, those people exist..I know right?) it’s not just something you do. It’s a part of you. It’s a part of your lifestyle. As such, everything about your daily routine has adjusted to give that time a priority in your schedule. If you’re someone who has decided to join the music ministry at your church, then rehearsal night has to have the same priority in your life. Whatever night rehearsal falls on at your church, you must make that night a standing appointment on your calendar. Consider it already booked.

You do that for two reasons. First, you do it because when you decide to be a part of a ministry you do it with your whole heart. Secondly though, you do it because you understand that your music ministry needs your presence to minister effectively. Whether you’re hearing it all the time or not, you have to develop a mindset that when you aren’t there, you’re missed. Your absence places hardships on others in your section. People depend on you. This one thing alone has been probably the single most driving force that makes me go the extra mile to always be on my post. It’s not an arrogance thing. It’s just what you do when you care about something.

So if you’ve decided to be in the music ministry, I challenge you today to decide to make rehearsal night a priority. Make it a hard, fast, long-standing appointment that does not get missed, moved or trumped for anything short of an emergency, illness or something of that order. Do this for a few months and, like everything else that is important to you, your life will learn to adjust, make room for and revolve around it because it has been given an elevated status of importance to you.