Essential Attitudes for Music Ministry PART 1 OF 4
If you are a decent musician, you became thus through lots of blood, sweat, and tears. And if you’re a diehard musician, it took lots of tears. Musicians tend to be a little more passionate and emotional. Nothing wrong with that, because it is this sensitivity that makes a good musician. These “wunderkids” seem to possess special software in their brains which enables them to receive all stimuli around them, run it through their internal processors, and spit out a near-divine opinion. And woe be unto the hapless man or woman who dares challenge their dictum. In fact, it were better for that man or woman if they were to have a 9-foot Steinway hung around their neck and they were cast into the nearest duck pond. Is my case overstated? Maybe slightly, but if there is an Achilles heel for a musician, it is a tendency to pride. Satan was (and is) a talented musician, who was destroyed by the original sin, pride.
Where in the wide world did we get the idea that we are God’s gift to music? Who told us that? Our parents? Aunt Ethel? I am firmly convinced that the more we allow ourselves to be the hero of our personal snow globe church, the more we stamp out chances at musical growth.
So, how do I foster true humility in my music ministries? Remember this:
God lent us His talents, not the other way around
Mt 25:14 ¶ For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods.
Mt 25:15 And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey.
I never realized until a few years ago that the word talent came from this story in the Bible. In today’s culture, when someone is talented we think he has this innate skill. It’s almost like the guy was just born with superior ability. He doesn’t even have to try, just nails it every time. It’s not fair, really. He won the musical lottery and I’m just standing here in a pile of scratch-offs.
I do not deny that certain individuals have a knack for music. They truly are gifted. But may I remind you that if a lady is a gifted violinist, she has received a gift? Where did that gift come from? Her talent was given to her by God and He gave it to her for a reason. Where did you pick up your perfect (or acquired) pitch? From God. Why do you have such a love for music? (I am not asking what it is about music that you love; I’m asking, where did you get the actual love for it?). It came from the Father of lights.
Our musical talent was given to us by God. He is the Creator with a capital “C”; we’re just creators. Like the little girl who asked her father for money so that she could buy him a gift, we can say like David, “…of thine own have we given thee.” The truth is, we are privileged to sing; the congregation is not privileged to hear us.
God expects a return on His investment
Matthew 25:16 Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents.
25:17 And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two.
25:18 But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord’s money.
God expects us to invest our gifts and talents. In other words, you should be a better musician today than you were 10 years ago. And musical growth is not merely being able to play the scales faster or cleaner. Your 10-year growth includes every facet of your being, including your motives, technical skill, and your stage presence. You may have lost a step playing scales, but perhaps you now play or sing with your whole heart. Your growth could be that you’re not as caught up in the fear of man as you once were. There is nothing arrogant about a musician who takes the talents he has been given and increases them for the glory of God.
On the other hand, pretending that you have no talent is nothing more than pride in disguise. The third servant in this story decided he was so “humble” that he couldn’t possibly see a return on an investment of only one talent. He gave the excuse of being embarrassed and afraid, but that’s not how the lord saw it. His performance review said he was WICKED and SLOTHFUL.
The judgment Seat of Christ will reveal my true motives in music
Matthew 25:19 After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them.
There will be a day when God will reckon with us – demand an account – about the talents He lent us. There will not be a review board of my peers who will summarize my music ministry. Jesus Christ Himself, the faithful Witness, will recount my service in His church. He knows every chord I ever played and every note I ever sang. As fearful as this can be, it is also liberating. I sometimes worry that people might think me “too big for my britches” when I stretch myself musically. If my true aim is to bring glory to God with this song, and more glory to Him than I did 10 years ago, I have the assurance that I ought to improve and I find myself wanting to.
Rewards will be given in accordance with our effort
Matthew 25:21 His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.
Matthew 25:26 His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed:
Which servant was the lord speaking to in verse 21? The first or the second? You can’t tell, can you? It’s because, with the exception of one word, he said the exact same thing to both of them! Did they have the same output? No way! The first guy made 250% more than the second. So why did God reward them the same? Because God is grading on a curve! He doesn’t look at what we have done in comparison with everyone else, but what we have done in comparison to what He gave us.
When we fail to use our God-given talent, the Lord doesn’t excuse us based on the size of our talent or the fear that we experience when we think of using it. He uses other words, like wicked and slothful. The real reason we’re not using our talents for God is because of our evil and lazy hearts.
How has God taught you about humility in music ministry?
Pastor Jonathan Marshall
Assistant Pastor at Hope Baptist Church, Toledo, Oh