True or false: A music ministry should never “perform”

I haven’t heard anyone debating this lately, but among many church circles it is often said that Christian musical entities should never “perform”. I’ll say right off the bat here that I do understand the heart of the people that say it. But I think all the fear, disdain and general rejection of the notion of performing (as opposed to ministering) is based largely on a mis-understanding or misinterpretation of the meaning of the word itself. So in this blog I want to do two things.

First, I want to give you a very clear, definitive answer of not only the word “perform” but the word “performance”. Once we have that we’ll take a closer look at the whole “performance” thing, how it relates to music ministry and why I think the whole thing is really much ado about nothing. First, let’s get the definitions out of the way.

per·form

 [per-fawrm]

verb (used with object)

1. to carry out; execute; do: to perform miracles.
2. to go through or execute in the proper, customary, or established manner: to perform the ceremony.
3. to carry into effect; fulfill: Perform what you promise.
4. to act (a play, part, etc.), as on the stage, in movies, or on television.
5. to render (music), as by playing or singing.
6. to accomplish (any action involving skill or ability), as before an audience: to perform a juggling act.
7. to complete.

per·for·mance

 [per-fawr-muh ns]

noun

1. a musical, dramatic, or other entertainment presented before an audience.
2. the act of performing a ceremony, play, piece of music, etc.
3. the execution or accomplishment of work, acts, feats, etc.
4. a particular action, deed, or proceeding.
5. an action or proceeding of an unusual or spectacular kind: His temper tantrum was quite a performance.

 

If you take a closer look at the definitions for the word “performance” you start to get clues of where all the hoopla about the word came from. In the first definition you see another word mentioned that we don’t like; “entertainment”. You see, somewhere way back in history someone decided Christians should never be entertained or find anything entertaining. So for many people who dislike the word perform being associated with music ministry, there is this notion that if you say you’re going to perform, you are suggesting that your offering will somehow be fake, or less sincere…for “entertainment” and not ministry.

As I said in the opening paragraph, I really do believe people who say this have their heart in the right place. However, when you take a look at the definition for the word “perform” you really start to understand that there’s nothing sinister about the word nor the notion of “performing”.  Stripped of all the extra implications and other stuff, to “perform” is, quite simply, the act of getting up and doing something in front of a bunch of people. It’s that simple. There is nothing sinful or fake about it. Even if it happens to actually make someone smile or laugh.

Here’s the one truth I want you to take away from this. Absolutely everything we do in the delivery of the word of God through music is part of what makes it a “ministry”. That is why everything we do needs to be done at the highest level we can aspire to. If ministry really is the goal, we must understand that the presentation, or”performance” of it is a critical part of effective ministry.  Often a message is only going to be as powerful as it’s messenger’s delivery of it. You’ve seen enough outstanding preachers AND bad preachers to verify that is true.

It is for that reason that we leave our homes and families, drive across town to church in the middle of the week and practice these songs. Learn musical arrangements. Memorize lyrics and harmonies. If we are never to perform, then why would we even need to do all this? Why not just show up Sunday morning and make it all up? Why should we spend all this time learning and perfecting these songs if it’s really true that we should never “perform”?  Because if we did it would most likely be a chaotic, disorganized mess, that’s why. So, just as the dynamic preacher studies and prepares himself for his message Sunday morning we prepare and rehearse and perfect our songs so the “performance” of them will minister to God’s people in a powerful way.

Heck, call it something else if it makes you feel better. Some people say “render” selections, for example. At the end of the day though, it’s really no more than getting up in front of an audience and “delivering/rendering/espousing/ pontificating (lol, whatever) the word of God in song.  You can even say “minister in song” if it sounds better. But even if you say that you’re talking about the performing of those songs in front of an audience. The two really can’t be separated.

So the whole ” a choir should never perform” thing  didn’t make sense to me the very first time I heard it. But I didn’t bother to debate it or argue  about it. And I don’t suggest you do either. Just know in your heart of hearts that it’s not about what you call it, it’s about why you’re doing it.

Image courtesy of “Stuart Miles”FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The one big drawback about passion

I suspect this will resonate with groups of all sizes and types, but I think choirs and praise teams will relate most. One of the most frustrating things about group music ministry is the unfortunate task of dealing with all the different personalities, quirks and idiosyncrasies of people. To call it challenging would be an understatement, wouldn’t it?

But if you’re a part of a choir, praise team or other group music ministry, you know exactly what I mean. The lack of enthusiasm. Tardiness. Absenteeism. A less than positive attitude. In a word, Apathy. The sad truth is not everyone that is a part of any given group is necessarily there for the right reasons. But I think that’s a lot less common than perhaps we think. Many people join the music ministry because they love it, but have simply been there so long that they aren’t excited about it anymore, as I described in Music Ministry Auto-Pilot, it’s a routine that has become routine.

We must also understand that not everything is as obvious as it seems. We often don’t know why a person is constantly late, missing rehearsals, generally apathetic, or whatever the problem may be.  And I’ve found over the years when you have such things happening across the group as a whole it’s a sign of a bigger issue or issues. The group as a whole may not be happy with some aspect of the way the ministry is administrated.

I’ve been talking about passion and love for ministry here lately and how they both intertwine. It is the life-blood of every ministry. Without it a ministry can’t be effective or, in my opinion, anointed. But here’s something I want you to really pay close attention to and understand, especially if you’re in a leadership position.

Passion cannot be mandated.

Let me explain what I mean by that. You see, the typical reaction to wide-spread apathy in a group is one of frustration. After all, this stuff should be obvious by now. This is music ministry. We know this.  Right? So leaders who find themselves dealing with these kinds of issues can sometimes react in a rather scolding manner. We start addressing the issues at rehearsals. And even though we often use all the right language, scripture and teaching, often it all comes across rather combative. Sometimes it even comes across like scolding. I’ve been guilty of this a lot, I won’t pretend otherwise.

It’s hard not to. Believe me I get it.  But the thing is, you can never get someone passionate about something by forcing it down their throats or beating them over the heads with it. Your motivation for doing so may be absolutely born out of passion, but the approach is often all wrong. Passion cannot be mandated. It can’t be forced upon people. It can’t be an ultimatum. That doesn’t negate the need for boundaries and established rules by far. But we’re talking something that goes beyond just showing up when you’re supposed to and doing what you’re supposed to do. We’re talking about enthusiastic, passionate participation in a ministry.
That kind of passion can only be shared. Shown. Lived outwardly in front of people. When it is experienced that way it is felt. Seen. Understood. And eventually, caught. I’ve come to understand over the years that the more passionate I am about my own service, my own position, my own ministry- about everything I do related to music ministry- the more it changes people’s attitudes around me.

I’ve always been known around my church for my love of the music ministry. Being passionate about it. But it seems here lately that reputation has grown even more. Not because I go around saying it though. I just am. It shows in the way I play, the way I sing, the way I direct. I can’t help but show it, because it’s just in me. And so these days when I speak to the choir or praise team about issues or challenges, the conversation is different. My tone is different.

It’s still deliberate, still one of authority, still adamant. But nowadays when I talk to my praise team about the importance of perfecting our sound, it’s coming less from that place of frustration and more from a place of  “I so want you to feel the way I feel”, or “when you begin to really understand this the way God gave it to me it’s going to transform this whole experience for you”.

I talk about how powerful and anointed our ministry can be. I talk about the importance of knowing our songs,  just like I always have. But now instead of negative language about “not sounding a mess” or “getting up there messing up” or “half-doing it”….you get the idea….I find myself instead talking about how powerful it is to be absolutely sure of every note and every word of a song. I talk about how freeing it is to sing without any fear or doubts. How it frees you to really worship God and feel His presence in a much more powerful way. I talk about how it affects the audience, and changes the atmosphere, and makes the people more receptive to the word of God.

But these days I don’t just say “we have to do it, it’s important”. I talk about what a wonderful feeling it is when God uses us mightily that way. I speak from a place of love and passion that they can see, and hear, and feel. Passion  expressed, shared, lived outwardly, is caught. It’s embraced. I’ve been doing this a very long time, so I know how all this sounds. I know it’s easier said than done, and I wouldn’t sit here and try to convince you that I always get it right.

But I do know that the more passionately I approach ministry from every angle-especially conversations about it- the more of it I see creeping into others around me.

 

The one thing that must be your reason for EVERYTHING

Saturday night, about 9:00, I was relaxing in my apartment all by myself. Watching comedy shows on tv while I fold laundry and enjoy a couple of Sweet Italian Brats. And I was smiling. Not because of the comedy show I was watching though. No, that was making me laugh. This smile was coming from a different place. It was coming from a place of deep satisfaction, contentment, gratitude and just….love, I guess you’d call it.

You see Saturday I installed this cool new feature on my fan page that allows people to actually type up a review and rate it with up to 5 stars. Well, I sent the word out to my mailing list, posted on my fan page, sent a few private messages, etc. Lo and behold, the thing wasn’t working correctly. People were trying to leave their review and were unable to. I was so frustrated! Frustrated and embarrassed, actually.

So now I’ve sent out all these e-mails with a link to something that isn’t working. Not to mention the promoted post I had out there. So after deleting the app and re-installing it, now I have to go “eat crow” and ask these people to do it again. I thought “oh man, they’re going to be angry because I e-mailed them again. Someone’s gonna complain I’m spamming them, or unsubscribe. And in fact one person did (that I know of).

But in the meantime something else was happening. Something wonderful. In the middle of my frustration I started to notice that my fan page was more active and busier than it had ever been in any one day. I was laughing and chatting and talking with people, and everything I was posting was getting comments and likes, and…wow! But that wasn’t the best part. The best part was that people were starting to respond to the call.

They were starting to come to the fan page to leave their reviews. And that was touching enough, but there were a couple of people who were so determined to share their kind words with me that they spent most of their morning trying to get the app to work, going back several times and leaving their comments. Not to be denied the opportunity to share how they had been blessed, several of them simply posted their wonderful comments right on my wall when the app wouldn’t work.

One of my subscribers has told me since day one that he doesn’t do FaceBook, period. Well imagine how I felt when a comment showed up with that little blank head on the left where the picture should be. It was him. He felt the need to share his appreciation so strongly that he actually created an account and liked the page just to do so. Overwhelming.

So in the middle of all this, the guy who created the app responded to my distress call. He came to my page to test it by leaving a review. While he was there though, he couldn’t help notice all the great comments, responses and love going on. “Wow, great page Ron! You have great content and such a responsive audience” I felt like company had just dropped in unexpectedly at my house and found it in absolutely pristine condition, with everyone dressed to the 9’s and on their best behavior.

So I’m reflecting on all of this at the end of the day and just marveling at how absolutely great it all made me feel. And I think I understood at that moment better than any other time in my life why I’ve dedicated my life to music ministry. It certainly hasn’t been because of days like this. No, days like this are rare indeed. This is not the norm, it’s the exception.  So what drives me to do this all the other days when there’s nobody there? It has to be something besides kudos and recognition, because often they are simply not there.  No, the single driving motivation for everything I do in this ministry is passion. Love.

 In music ministry and everything else in life you set out to do, unbridled passion for it must be the reason you do it. Not the promise of money, not the hope of eventual fame or recognition. Not the praise of the masses. It must be love. Passionate love. That kind of love, I discovered at that moment, is the thing that has made me come to that page all of the other days when nobody’s engaging or commenting or liking or anything else.  All of the other 364 days when nobody’s stopping by, or those days when I write a fantastic article that doesn’t raise an eyebrow.

Or when I drive that choir to the point that they almost hate me at rehearsal and then they absolutely sing us through the roof Sunday, but nobody says anything or makes the connection or says thank you. Or all those times I go to that other church and prepare their choir for their musicals and special occasions, driving 30 minutes one way on a Saturday (leaving my visiting kids at my place) 3 weeks in a row, only to hear them give most of the credit to their director and only casually mention that I “stopped by and helped out”.

Passion is the thing that drives you to keep doing it even when there doesn’t seem to be much of a payoff for you. Love is the thing that makes you HAVE to do it even after the 100th conversation with yourself that you should quit. It is the thing that makes you do it even when you feel nobody really appreciates it.

Of course, I knew this stuff.

But Saturday I had an epiphany. You see there I was, basking in the warm glow of this Fan page love fest that was happening. And feeling sooo loved and sooo appreciated. But then I realized that The Music Ministry Coach.com (something I didn’t want to create) is the perfect merging of everything I love passionately. God gave me a love of music. He gave me a passion for teaching. And he gave me a joy of writing.

So before I ever joined the choir as a kid, I listened to the background singers while everyone else sang along with the leader. Before I ever had a blog I wrote poems at 11 years old. And beautiful essays in  high school, and love letters to my girlfriends, and songs, and articles that I did just for the joy I got from the creative release of writing. And before I was ever a vocal coach I loved teaching people things.  Anything. I taught several members of my family how to drive a stick.  My minister of music and I still laugh today about how I used to teach her songs on the piano before I could play myself.  In fact anything I knew and understood well, I could teach.

I guess what I’m trying to say here is true passion; a deep, undeniable love for what you do, is often found in the things you would do just for the joy you get from it. That thing you’d do if nobody ever noticed or said anything or gave you a pat on the back. That kind of love must be your single and most important reason for doing anything. That alone will sustain you, and drive you, and encourage you, and motivate you to strive for excellence in your service to God. It will stand alone as the single quantifiable, justifiable reason you to keep going when everything says you should quit. And it alone should be the acid test you use to decide if music ministry or any other ministry is really where God wants you.

I can tell you from over 30 years of experience that you had better not join any ministry for the fish and the loaves, or the praise. If you do you will certainly spend most of your time unhappy and unfulfilled. But when you find that thing that you do for no other reason than the joy and deep self-satisfaction you get from it,  it is then God blesses you with a day like I had Saturday. It’s then-when you’ve reached a place where you simply don’t care if anyone notices or pats you on the back or not- that you are reaching your highest level of real ministry, which is service. When you reach that place, even on your worst days you won’t have to ask yourself why you do it. ( Colossians 3:23-25 )

7 powerful scriptures for next level thinking

I often think about my business and my ministry here at The Music Ministry Coach. What is my mission, or calling? Of all the things I teach and write about, I wonder, what is the central thought, message or idea that keeps resurfacing? As I think back over the different articles I’ve written, teaching I’ve done, posts on my Fan Page and even things I regularly do to help me stay on point in my own music ministry, I see one thing that keeps coming up again and again.

Thoughts. Thinking. Mindset. Attitude. For me, this is the hub that everything I teach and write about music ministry stems from. You can see it showing up over and over again in blogs like  3 Powerful Steps to an anointed music ministry and The 5 second rule of music ministry . A while back a dedicated an entire article to the subject of taking your music ministry to the next level by adopting a “next level mentality”, I called it.

Many years ago, sitting in an unemployment office with no job, I found myself alone at the desk of one of the agents that worked there. She had gone to retrieve paperwork or something. My eyes started wondering around for something to entertain myself while she was gone, when I spotted something on her wall that would change my life. It was this:

In a Sunday school session one day we were talking about the mind and healthy thinking, and I mentioned this Charles Swindoll piece and the importance of positive thinking. The instructor disagreed with me that Christians should practice positive thinking. He believed that doing so somehow negated or weakened our dependence on God.

But positive, healthy thinking is very much a biblical principle. One that gets a lot of attention in the bible in fact. There are far too many of them to include them all here, but I’d like to share with you 7 of the most powerful scriptures regarding positive, healthy thinking. Keep in mind as you read these, a couple of things:

1. Very often when you see the word “heart” in the bible it’s meaning is synonymous with “mind”, thoughts or memory.

2.  These scriptures are great for meditating on as you seek to renew your mind for higher levels of service in music ministry, but they will elevate every area of your life you apply them to.

Just hover your mouse over these scriptures and the text will appear.

Phil 4:8

Psalm 19:14

Proverbs 4:23

Phil 3:13-14

Acts 24:16

2 Cor 10:5

Psalms 51: 10

Can you really  improve your music ministry by changing how you think? Absolutely.  I’ve heard from more than one person who shared with me that their whole view of music ministry has changed since they connected with me. Others have told me they’re suddenly excited again about serving God in the music department. Still others are more determined and encouraged than ever before, just from reading the blogs, posts and e-mails. People who were on the verge of leaving have decided to stay. People who were content where they were are now seeking new levels of service to God in their music departments. People who thought they couldn’t do certain things are now realizing that it’s not what you “can’t” do, it’s what you “don’t know how” to do. And since we can do all things through Christ, anything you don’t know can be learned.

Much like the deliberate renewing of the mind that is expected of every new believer, there is a renewing that happens in your mind when you become determined to adopt a higher level of thinking about everything you do. And scripture shows us that what we spend time thinking about becomes a part of our heart. It’s the key to happiness and success not only in music ministry but every aspect of your life.

The “5 second rule” of music ministry; Use this to quickly move past any negative emotion

As Time Goes ByIf you’ve spent any time at all serving in music ministry, you know that you’re not always excited about everything you have to do. You don’t love every song you have to sing. You’re not thrilled about every engagement. Sometimes you’re not even all that happy about certain people and what they do, say, sing, etc. Let me give you a personal example.

When I first came to the front in my music ministry, it was as a choir director. I didn’t ask for the position, I was sort of “drafted”. But even at that young age of around 15 or so, God had already placed such a love of music in my heart I was happy to serve in any capacity. Over the years though, I started doing many other tasks with the choir, and other gifted directors came up behind me.

To make a long story short, I seldom direct anymore, because I have other roles and responsibilities. My main roles now in my music department are that of voice instructor and keyboard player. Still though, there are times when I’m called upon to direct. To be honest, when I am it always irritates me a little. It’s easier for me to deal with if my director simply can’t be there and needs me to have his back. But it’s really irritating to me if he IS in fact there and just not prepared or doesn’t know the song we’re about to sing for some reason.

In both situations, the source of the irritation for me is the same. It’s not that I don’t enjoy directing the choir anymore. It’s not that I don’t want to help out. I love my music ministry and I believe the sole reason I have any musical gift that I have is so it can be used to help the ministry. What I don’t like about it though, is that any time I have to direct it pulls me away from the keyboard. That’s frustrating for me because I’ve prepared myself to play the piece. The band has prepared for the piece as a unit. What I have NOT done is prepare myself to direct the song. So I’m at a bit of a disadvantage, the band is at a bit of a disadvantage because we all depend on each other, and it’s just a mild irritation all around.

This is one small issue that kind of bothers me, but it could be any number of things for any member of any music department- or any ministry for that matter. In music ministry, often it’s something as simple as not caring for the song we’ve chosen to sing that morning. Whatever it is that you find personally irritating at any given time though, has to be very quickly dealt with. You must have a way to quickly-often within seconds- deal with your personal issue with the song that’s been chosen, or the fact that you’re being asked to lead it again for the 100th time, or the fact that you PREPARED to lead but the song selection had to be changed and now you’re not singing after all that practice….I could go on and on here, but you get the idea.

We need something for those negative emotions that pop-up seconds before we’re about to stand before God’s people. I don’t think many of us really understand how even things as small as facial expressions have a profound impact on the effectiveness of our ministry. If you allow negative emotions, feelings, dissension, irritation or disappointment to remain in your spirit while you’re up ministering to God’s people, then the truth is you’re not ministering at all. You are, at that moment, completely in self.

Nothing matters about what’s going on at that moment except you, your emotions and how you feel about whatever is happening at that moment. That’s something that can’t be hidden from the audience or from God. As someone who is always out front; whether it’s in front of the entire congregation or simply in front of my own choir at rehearsal, I knew I needed a way to deal with something like this quickly. So I developed my own music ministry “5 second rule”.

You may or may not be familiar with the 5 second rule regarding food. But there’s a running joke here in the United States that says if you drop a piece of food on the floor and it’s there for less than 5 seconds, it’s ok for you to pick it up and eat it (lol). Well, as I kept being asked to direct the choir-usually with virtually no notice, I had to find a way to deal with the irritation I felt, and do it in the few seconds it took me to rise from the keyboard and walk over to the director’s spot. That little mental routine became what I now call my 5 second rule.

I had the opportunity to work with a choir a few years ago for about 2 months. The choir was simply paralyzed and unable to move forward with their ministry because it’s ranks were full of people who were simply refusing to do things that they could in fact do that would help the ministry move forward. There were people who could direct that wouldn’t. There was one who could play that wouldn’t. People were singing in the wrong sections for their vocal range because they didn’t like the section they belonged in.

God impressed upon me to share with them the way I deal with directing when I don’t want to, so I began to explain my 5 second rule to them this way;.

“There will always be things you don’t want to do. Songs you don’t want to sing, whatever. We’re only human. But you have to remember that the music ministry is NOT about you. And when it’s time to sing, you must set aside everything you’re feeling that IS about you, and focus on ministering to God’s people. You can’t allow any kind of negativity in your spirit when you’re up in front of God’s people.

Now, I wouldn’t dare stand here and tell you not to feel it. We’re all human and I’m not sure we could avoid it if we wanted to. But here’s what I do when I’m asked to direct and I don’t want to. I give myself 5 seconds to feel whatever I feel. Acknowledge it, pout about it, say it ain’t fair, whatever. From the time I’m told until the time I raise my hands in front of the choir is all the time I’m allowed to let it be about me. Once I get to that director’s spot, that’s over. I take a deep breath, blow it out and say to myself, “ok this is not about me anymore.”And it isn’t. It’s not about us, what we feel or even our right to feel it. Not at that moment.

It’s about God and it’s about ministry. So from that second I raise my hands I’m committed to giving God everything I have in that song. In fact many members of my choir would be shocked to find that I ever feel anything but complete joy about directing. Because that’s all they see when I’m in front of them. The same is true when I’m teaching a song at rehearsal, whether it’s my favorite song or one I really don’t care for at all. They’ll never know how I feel about it based on my outward emotions, facial expressions or lack of enthusiasm.

It doesn’t matter how I feel about the song, or directing, or anything else at that point. Because none of it is about how I feel. So from now on, that’s what I want you to do. Whatever it is you don’t like, you have 5 seconds to feel it. Once it’s time to minister though, it’s not about you anymore. Remind yourself of that every time you feel a negative emotion right before you’re about to minister in song. Just say “5 seconds”. Then get over it and give God your best.”

 

 

The blessing in being pushed

JB-09-APFT-001Many people who follow me or have known me for a while don’t know that I’m a veteran. I don’t tend to bring that up when people are talking about veterans though, or celebrating veterans. Someone asked me why one day. I told her that sure, I was in the Army for 3 years, but I never saw a minute of war. I spent the whole time state side. That’s hardly something I feel comfortable comparing to those who actually fought, saw friends murdered, sustained life-altering injuries.

But I did serve 3 years in the Army. The experience taught me a lot of things, but it taught me one thing in particular that I’ve never forgotten and still embrace to this day. That is, that you will never really know what you’re truly capable of until you allow someone to push you beyond what you THINK you’re capable of.  I absolutely hated boot camp. And I absolutely loved boot camp. I hated it because of the drill seargents, of course. At the end though, I loved it for the same reasons.

You see when you’re going through boot camp those drill sergeants are constantly in your face, yelling at you. Screaming at you. Punishing you for every little thing. Forcing you to keep going when you swear you can’t take another step.  We used to run for miles every morning. I remember one guy in our platoon who would constantly fall behind the formation, gradually through the ranks and finally out of the back. Every time he did though, my drill sergeant would turn the entire platoon around. We would all run back to the place he stopped, gather him up and continue on our way. We were so angry, but we were learning a very valuable lesson that created an amazing bond between us.

We all thought they got some kind of sick pleasure out of torturing us. That is, until graduation day. At that moment, standing there in the best shape of our entire lives, strong, confident, self-assured men, it dawned on us what they had been doing all along. Pushing us beyond our own perceived limitations. Forcing us to go further than we thought we could.

And the “punishment” they inflicted on us? Exercise. Yup. Push-ups. One guy in my platoon couldn’t pass the push-up portion of the PT test. So every time we were anywhere   in a formation the drill sergeant would randomly call his name….”JOHNSON! DROP!!! And Johnson would drop to the ground and start doing push-ups. One day (and I’ll never forget this) the drill sergeant told Johnson to drop and give him 20. Only this time when Johnson went down, the entire platoon joined him (remember that bond I talked about?)  And we all did so every time after that. By the time we reached graduation Johnson could do about 80 push-ups in 2 minutes.

I could tell you story after story like that, but hopefully you already see where I’m going with this. You see I’ve worked out on my own off and on many times since then. I’ve been in some pretty good shape, too. But I have never again achieved the level of fitness I achieved during boot camp. Why? Because I’m incapable of pushing myself as hard as they pushed me.

That’s true of most people though. Very few people can push themselves beyond what they perceive is their limit. There is a very strong sense of preservation that is innate in all of us. It’s very difficult to circumvent that sense of self preservation. Even the most determined of us will only push ourselves so far, because it’s too easy to just stop. Even if we don’t want to, the feeling to do so is so overwhelming that it’s hard not to. Yet when when someone comes along and takes that option away from us we find that we can in fact keep going.

What does any of this have to do with music ministry? Everything. You see, most people who love to sing want to be in the best choirs, most awesome praise teams, most anointed groups. But very few people understand what it takes for those groups to perform at that level.  Many others join such groups only to find themselves constantly frustrated and angry about the work involved.

Behind every great, awesome, anointed choir, praise team or group, there is someone relentlessly pushing them towards perfection. There is some person; some director, some musician, some music director- who just won’t take “close enough”, or “not quite”. Someone who keeps making you do it again and again until the harmony is right. And he gets on your last nerve. Makes you angry. You can’t understand why he doesn’t just move on. He’s too much of a perfectionist, you say. You think about getting out of the choir or praise team.

But then something happens. What happens? Sunday comes. And you go forth in anointed, powerful, atmosphere-changing ministry. And God’s people are blessed beyond measure. And YOU’RE blessed. Souls are saved. Yolks broken. And at that moment, standing there basking in the spiritual down-pour, you feel amazing. Like you’re doing the very thing God put you here to do. Oh, to be used by God in such a powerful way!

After church you feel so good as the members come up and go on and on about how powerful the music ministry was today. And maybe you begin to share how the song was ministering to you so much that you were able to just lose yourself in worship. At that moment though, few people are able to make the connection between that, and that guy that was pushing you relentlessly at rehearsal.

It’s hard at that moment to see that the pushing brought about the perfecting, which brought about the praise. You see everyone wants to be a part of an anointed music ministry. But few understand that the most anointed choirs, groups and praise teams are those with the strongest, hardest, most ridged work ethic. And there is always someone at the head of groups like that who pushes, and drives, and insists on the best you can give, even when you feel like you can’t give any more.

Most soldiers don’t really realize how profoundly their drill sergeant has impacted and changed their lives until the end, when it’s time to go. The same is true in life, isn’t it? Whether it’s the hardest teacher, the tough boss or the insistent music director, very few of us really understand the impact they have on our lives until they’re no longer there for whatever reason.

So my challenge to you today is to not only allow yourself to be pushed, but embrace it. Having a mentor, a coach, motivator, a trainer- someone to push you past your limits- will always make you a much better version of yourself than you could ever achieve on your own. Join my mailing list below and start today getting the push you need to take your ministry higher.