Lectionary meets business book

I rarely read business books anymore.  I use to read them a lot, especially during the years that  churches, and the “hot” church leaders seemed to be taking all their cues from the world of CEOs and were downloading church strategies from “entrepreneurs ‘R us” kinds of organizations.  I have pretty much sworn off of walking down the business book aisles at Borders or Barnes & Noble.  Spending three years in a doctoral program that called for long hours poring over  ancient liturgies and confessions of the Church Fathers had a way of exposing cheap “I’m Ok, you’re ok” kinds of Norman Vincent Peale blather as having no place in the church, much less influencing how the church worships.

Surprisingly, here during the season of Lent (yes, I try to take the season seriously even though I am Baptist to the bone), I picked up a book that a friend recommended that is from this very business genre.  Ebbie (my wife) fusses at me sometimes for having too many books going at once (probably because I leave them laying on the kitchen table).  The last couple of weeks I have been guilty as charged, but in the midst of it I have sensed word from the Lord coming from an unusual variety of directions.  Let me hasten to say that WORD (Holy Bible) is always first and last influence.  That is, by being in the WORD every day it influences and shapes anything else I will read, or hear, or see.  By being the last it corrects and repositions anything that comes in between.  So, during this Lent, reading the daily readings suggested in the lectionary I am praying to hear from the Holy Spirit concerning life and ministry.  The pragmatic side of me is still very much alive as I tend to read ahead in the lectionary readings to see what Sundays’ readings say, especially if I will be participating in worship leadership somewhere.  This weekend those worlds, daily lectionary scripture readings – Sunday scripture readings – and pop business book, all spoke into life and ministry.  I will try to share the part that I think is addressing some of my ministry with worship leaders.  My heart is often burdened for music ministers who face friction in relationships with their pastors, church members, or church leaders, especially over issues related to worship leadership.

In reading the book, Linchpin by popular writer Seth Godin, I found myself connecting some of his philosophy with music ministers who feel trapped by the demands of pastors, or other church leaders, elected or self-appointed, when those demands (sometimes disguised as “just a suggestion”) are contrary to internal deeply held convictions that reside in the heart of the worship music leader.  Godin talks about sorting out the question, “Who are you trying to please?”  In the case of someone working within a system, he calls for differentiation between satisfying a “boss” who looks to keep you acting like a cog in the machine – doing what you’re told, bowing down, serving his limited understanding of what will work – and satisfying a different audience, who wants to see you fulfill your larger purpose, use your creative gifts and artistry, and be who you are made to be.  Of course, we have to revert to and trust scripture to temper our grasp of Godin’s empowerment, but I think there is good biblical ground on which to stand.  It is common sense that tells us we are who we are, and faking our way to appear as the cog in the machine someone else wants us to be will never fool anyone.  I sometimes think people are asking us to be what I call “authentically fake” in order to serve their vision of what an ideal worship leader would be like.  Acting out someone else’s vision of the me they think I should be usually causes a critical loss of passion.  I walk away from so many meetings with music ministers praying, “Lord, please break him/her free to fulfill your purposes for your glory!”

Godin’s book is helpful as far as it goes.  Enter the Holy Scripture!  Lectionary Epistle reading for Second Sunday of Lent (Feb. 28):

17Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you. 18For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things. 20But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.  1Therefore, my brothers, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, that is how you should stand firm in the Lord, dear friends!  (Phil 3:17 – 4:1)

These two ideas may seem far apart to you.  Certainly I am in no way equating Godin’s appeal to scripture, God forbid.  Rather, in considering those of you beat down by imposing egos with whom you serve, I sense that need to find strong anchor in your calling, your Lord, the One who deserves your “living sacrifice.” (Rom 12:1)  Let me hasten to say that part of being living sacrifice may include a reminder of who God has placed in authority over you in your situation.  I trust you will never hear me saying, “be insubordinate to authorities.”  That is a pretty sure way to lose a position, and quite possibly your own self-respect.  I am saying, however, that it is crucial for all of us to understand where our call comes from, and trust “the power that enables him to bring everything under his control.”  As music ministers, from our “second chair” leadership position we are expected to serve pastors and church members.  It is inherent in our call to serve the Kingdom.  It is critical, however, that we recognize where that call has originated, still resides, and therefore, “stand firm in the Lord!”  The Creator has built into you certain sensibilities, gifts, artistry, and means of seeing things that are unique to you.  To bury those abilities would seem less than living out your calling.

Explore posts in the same categories: Private Worship, Worship Reminders, Worship theology, Worship thoughts

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