Blind Spots

In my earliest days of fulltime ministry I was serving a church with no paid accompanist.  I was working on a youth musical with the youth choir and one of our church secretaries (back then they did not think being called secretary was an insult) played piano for our rehearsals on Sunday afternoons.  I knew this dear lady could not participate in the traveling tour with us due to schedule conflict, so from the beginning we planned to use an accompaniment tape (yes, reel-to-reel) for the presentation of the musical.  We sang the musical on mission tour and then ended with a big home concert.  I designed a printed program with names of the kids, adult trip sponsors, soundmen, etc.  At our home concert I bragged on the same list of folks.  After the service I was busy receiving accolades when our secretary/accompanist stepped up to me.  I reached out to give her a hug.  Her response had a hesitance that implied some reluctance to me.  Fearing she might be ill, I asked if she was feeling ok.  Her response struck me like a bolt of lightning.  With an unmistakable anger she said, “in the future you might want to recognize the people who helped get you where you’re going.”  I was not completely sure what she meant until she waved the printed program in front of my face.  It hit me like a ton of bricks!  Not once had I mentioned her contribution to the process.  No amount of apologizing could compensate for this ridiculous oversight.  Even though it was an honest mistake I felt absolutely awful about it.  It had just been a blind spot.

You may have heard of an illustrative self-awareness diagram that originated in the 1950’s called the Johari Window, named after its inventors.  I first learned about it in a psychology class, and have had numerous applications in ministry.  If you are unfamiliar with the window it is worth a few minutes of googling.  The grid calls attention to what we know about ourselves and/or what others know about us.  One area is visible to others and known also to ourselves.  Another section includes what is not known by other people, but known to ourselves, called hidden.  The area that is unknown to others and unknown to  ourselves as well is simply called unknown.  Yet another segment notes things in our lives that are seen by others, but not known to ourselves.  This section is called by some a blind spot.  While the incident above was just that, a single incident, it caused me to reflect deeply upon my attitude of gratitude.  I questioned why or how I could overlook the contribution of someone doing something that meant so much to the accomplishment of ministry with those students.  I had to evaluate my motives and focus to be certain that I was truly grateful, and not just using a willing servant who was available and capable.  God forbid that such an attitude would be in me.  I surely cannot claim 100% success since that occurrence, but I can tell you that expressing gratitude is always on my radar.

All of us have blind spots.  Sometimes they are more blatant than others.  I have been to conferences where a leader calls attention to some deficit in church worship life and then demonstrates the same deficit in their presentation.  In a recent national conference a leader stated emphatically that our worship was not dependent on what kind of motions we made, such as hand-raising. Then as he led us in worship songs he proceeded to foster a sense of shame for those who would not lift or clap their hands in response to the music.  The atmosphere  became quite manipulative and, in my estimation, unhealthy.  I certainly do not think the leader was aware of the contradictory tone of his attitude.  Rather, I think it was a blind spot for him.

Because worship leaders stand in the public eye so often and speak or sing words about the holy, there are some inherent dangers for blind spots.  Many modern worship environments are modeled after the theater stage rather than church, per se.  The setting may have been designed to attract the unchurched, but may have the unintended consequence of turning worship leaders into performers (an ever-present temptation).  In fact, just worshiping in front people whom you are inviting to worship along with you brings a set of presumptions that, by extension, may create blind spots for us as we lead.  We may work at having an appearance of worship, attempting to demonstrate to others what worship looks like (as if that is really possible).  We sometimes say things like, “you cannot lead people where you have not been.”  If we are not careful we may develop an artificial need to appear that we have gone somewhere that we know not of.  I am convinced that many worship leaders have a blind spot regarding how well the congregation is participating, because sound and lights prevent them from seeing or hearing what is really taking place in the pew.

The good news about blind spots is that the Lord sees all.  As hard as we may try to be pure or to look good, God recognizes our ongoing need to rest in His unchanging grace.

            My hope is built on nothing less

            Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.

 

            .Dressed in His righteousness alone

            Faultless to stand before the throne.

Standing on the Solid Rock!

Paul

Explore posts in the same categories: Leading Worship, Singing Worship, Uncategorized, Worship Reminders, Worship theology, Worship thoughts

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