The power to get wealth; what it really takes

the power to get wealth

Lately I keep thinking about that scripture in Deuteronomy 8:18 that says God has given us the power to get wealth. But then I heard a statistic recently regarding the popularity of reality shows. Turns out most people say they watch them because they’re bored and have nothing else to do. What I’ve learned this year that has really sunk in more than any other time in my life, is simply that the power to get wealth is in knowledge. In the past I, like many others, have said that you can’t be successful trying to market to believers; especially black ones. But there was one flaw in my thinking. Black Christians spend a lot of money. And there are in fact  companies successfully making an income selling stuff to them. And they’re not all selling bibles and hats. And most of them aren’t faith-based businesses.

So last year after having my services on-line for some time and having “marginal” success at best, I decided to take ownership of where I am and what I’m doing- and NOT doing- to reach my goals. I got real honest with myself and admitted that I know nothing about how to market properly and that I was basically just putting stuff up and hoping people would come.  Blindly trying different things, tossing them against the wall and seeing what would stick. So I made a commitment that I would really get serious about learning how to properly market my stuff on-line. So while many people are coming home parking in front of the tv because there’s “nothing else to do”, I started coming home and get on-line. I stopped chatting and playing games and started reading about internet marketing.

Now instead of tv and games I read forums and websites and articles and courses about the how to create and market products and services on-line. Then I spend hours sifting and sorting through information over-load and hype. Then even more hours learning how to apply what I’m learning. It’s been frustrating. And time consuming. And overwhelming. And more than once I’ve felt like I was getting nowhere (that’s because the Devil kept me focused on what I wasn’t accomplishing so I couldn’t see how much I had already accomplished- but that’s another blog for another day).

But I’ve come to understand that God makes it possible for us to get the knowledge, which equals the power that we can then use to get wealth.  Most of us don’t ever get it because we stop short of getting the knowledge. It’s taken me several years to really get this. I thought that because I felt like God told me to do something, and I was pretty good at it, people would come. And they’d tell two friends, and they’ll tell two friends, and so on and so on. I found out though, that real life doesn’t work like that shampoo commercial.  I’m a vocal coach . People who study with me say  I’m pretty good. But that’s not enough, and that’s the truth I’ve had to learn. People don’t tend to go tell two friends when they’re happy. But they’ll tell 10 friends when they’re not, lol! Now that I do get it though, things are starting to happen.

I’m a vocal coach now because one day I believed God spoke to me and told me that’s the direction I should be going. What I did next though, is the reason I am one today. And what I did next is get on line and start searching out how to become one. If I hadn’t, I still wouldn’t be one no matter what God said to me. But here’s the thing. Sometimes it isn’t even that deep. I did spend money, get training, take lessons, go through a certification process to learn to teach voice professionally. But God has given us the power to get wealth using knowledge we already have.  One of the products I promoted was built from things I just learned from being in music ministry most of my life. Not something I went to school for. Just something I’ve learned how to do over the years. It’s called “Ad-lib Like A Pro“.

So anyway, I posted this blog announcing the sale on all my products, then I posted about Ad-Lib Like A Pro separately a couple of times. Now, before this year I would have just put it on my website and waited for people to come. Then hoped some of them might buy it.  Or worse yet, I would have thought “that would be a great idea” and then stopped right there and went back to playing Farmville. But because I got serious last year and determined I’d learn everything I needed to know about how to be more successful, I have a new mindset now. Now when I have an idea or a thought, I start researching how to do it. I learn as much as I can free and when I determine I’ve gone as far as I can free I spend some money. Because I understand now better than any other time in my life that God is always giving us ideas, placing people in front of us, putting us in the right place at the right time. And it’s up to us to take it from there. Because of that mindset Ad-lib Like A Pro and Vocal Ministry Breakthrough generated over $250 in sales, and did so less than a week before Christmas. That’s just putting it out there to you guys.

The point of this whole thing is not to talk about what I’ve managed to do. That’s not much money in the grand scheme of things. It’s more about really coming to grips with what it really takes to move to the next level with pretty-much anything we want to do. As we come to the end of the year we’ll all start talking about what a great year 2013 will be like we do every year. But most of us say that expecting that God will simply just drop it all in our laps without much effort on our parts. I have had to learn it just doesn’t work that way. God gives us ideas and knowledge and skills that we can use to be successful. But then He expects us to do something with it. He answers prayers by placing people in our paths that can help us achieve the things we’ve been praying for. It’s then up to us to see that as an opportunity He’s placed in front of us and then take advantage of it.

So many people are absolutely convinced God told them to do something or pursue a thing until that first hurdle comes. Or the first realization it will take time and work and money. Then just as quickly as we got the revelation it was Him, we suddenly get another revelation that it wasn’t. I’ve learned that while there are definitely things out of our control out there, very little of what’s holding most of us back has anything to do with our circumstances, income, background, race or anything else. God didn’t make any specifications about whom He gave the power to get wealth. He didn’t say He gave it to only one or two segments of the population or to one race of people over another one. We just have to understand what that power is, and that He gave us the ability to get it any time we want it. Other scriptures reinforce that notion, like 2 Timothy 2:15. Hosea 4:6 and Proverbs 4:7 .

Moving into 2013 I’ve had to understand that having a desire and even the talent to do something does not guarantee I’ll be successful with it. I must study, learn, grow in my knowledge and expertise of that thing. I must invest time and yes, money. He has indeed given us the power to get wealth. And as I’ve seen proof of myself, it will kick in as soon as we’re ready to start using it.

The one unpleasant thing every music ministry MUST have

If there’s one thing all choirs, praise teams, and pretty-much any other music ministry with more than one member have in common it’s personnel issues. That’s a broad term, to be sure. But I’m speaking specifically of the common problems most ministries deal with in regard to people just consistently being there and being on time.  It can really throw a monkey wrench in things when you’ve rehearsed material for Sunday morning and you’re depending on key people to be in place, only to find them absent or simply arriving too late.

There are times when a choir or praise team can’t do the song they planned to do because the leader who was supposed to sing it isn’t there, or the musician, or the director, or half the alto section- you get the idea. And while every music ministry who is preparing themselves well at rehearsal will have back-up songs in place for just such occurrences,  when it’s happening all the time it can really become a hindrance to the group’s ability to minister effectively. Not to mention it’s just plain frustrating and unfair to everyone involved with the process of learning, teaching and perfecting the songs.

While I haven’t always felt this way, as I’ve grown and matured over the years I’ve come to understand that you can’t always assume that what things look like from your vantage point is the Gospel truth. There may in fact be- and there usually is, to be honest- very valid reasons why a person is consistently late or absent at key times.  But if we’re going to be honest, we must also point out that for every person having a serious life circumstance that causes them to continually be absent or late, there must be 2 or 3 who could absolutely be on time with a little more effort.

There’s really only one way to effectively and fairly handle issues like this. But it’s one many choirs and praise teams don’t want to resort to. It’s the one thing that is, I believe, necessary and vital to the success of ANY organization, but especially music ministries. This unpleasant thing is:

Rules.

Rules are a no-brainer for most organizations. It just makes sense. It’s expected. Music departments though-especially smaller ones who don’t have many members to start with- have a hard time enforcing rules. You see if my choir only has about 10 members then I need every single body. So if 3 Sopranos come in late, I’m just glad they showed up. Come on up here!!

There is also the emotional difficulty of the task itself. It’s no fun telling people they can’t sing today. Especially when you really don’t know what the underlying issue is. But the truth is, the consequences of not having any rules in place-or having them and not enforcing them- soon become greater than the unpleasantness of enforcing them. When there are no rules that govern attendance and timeliness, then spotty attendance and tardiness become the acceptable norm for many members.

When you know you can be a half hour late on Sunday morning and still come on up, that’s exactly what you’ll do. As I said earlier, not every person that is late or absent is habitually doing so without cause. There are people who have real challenges that are valid. Challenges that they are working through and praying about. Issues that they’re fighting through in order to be there. But there are also people who simply aren’t putting forth the effort to be there on time.

As unpleasant as it is to do, rules are the only way to filter the two and make the whole thing fair for everyone. You will find that when there is a consequence for tardiness, for example- that people who are tardy for a reason they can’t help will come to you and discuss a solution. They will come to you in humility and explain their situation, offer to sit out for a while, try to work something out.
But the first time the person who is just late because they don’t want to leave home earlier has to sit in the audience and watch that ministry go forth in the Lord, they will feel something they haven’t felt before. They will feel the unpleasantness of not being able to come up and participate in the ministry. That is a powerful motivator, believe me. I’ll never forget one time my keyboard was in the shop for a while. Now, I didn’t sit in the audience, I simply went up and joined the Tenors in the choir stand. But the whole morning I was looking over there at the band going forth and just burning inside wishing I was over there too. And I LOVE to sing! So imagine what a person who enjoys singing in the choir or on the praise team would feel sitting in the audience unable to participate.

That feeling alone is often enough to motivate a person who is habitually late on Sunday mornings or absent at rehearsal to make an effort to be there that they simply hadn’t made before. But if I can miss rehearsal and still sing Sunday; AND I don’t even have to get up any earlier because I can still go up and sing even if I’m late…then there just isn’t much motivation for me to make any additional sacrifice to improve my attendance or my tardiness.

And as long as we’re talking about sacrifice, the fact that enforcing rules comes with sacrifice for the whole ministry isn’t lost on me. I understand better than anyone that when you start enforcing rules that force people to sit out when they miss rehearsal or show up late on Sunday, it can really put the ministry at a disadvantage. That’s especially true of smaller ministries where every member is critical.

This is in fact the most common reason most ministries don’t have, or don’t enforce rules that govern attendance and tardiness. But the fact is, your ministry will be held hostage by the issue until it is addressed with some kind of consequence. Your choir may have to do the crutch song  one Sunday instead of the one you rehearsed. Or the Praise team may have to go with plan B. Or there may be fewer bodies up there than you’d like.

But in all likelihood you won’t have to deal with that scenario too many times once you start enforcing some standard that does not allow people who habitually miss rehearsal or come in late to perform anyway. Rules are unpleasant to enforce and can be hard on everyone, really. But they have a very powerful way of making people either step up or step aside. Either way your ministry ends up better off in the end.