One thing I’ve been challenged with throughout my career is learning what my job really is. We as ministers of music have several hats we must wear – musician, administrator, praise leader, media specialist, pastoral assistant – but the most important role might not be any of these.
I’ve found that my most important role is to be a converter. By a converter, I mean someone that can absorb one type of information or energy and convert it into another. As musicians, we do this every time we play. Visual notes become sound. Chords are moved into melodies. Songs are converted into praise choruses. We face human issues that need converting all the time. Negative issues must be converted into biblically based responses. Soloists that are nervous and unsure must be converted. Carnal minds must be converted into spiritual ones.
Our ministries are constantly challenged by this idea of conversion.
At every point in our work, we are given the job of changing what is apparent into something else. This demands a special kind of knowledge. One, the ability to know how to convert, and two, what needs converting.
The ability to convert requires emotional and spiritual intelligence. We must be sensitive to the flow of the Holy Spirit in playing and directing, and have a goal in mind at each point. What needs to happen at this stage? Should the mood change to prayer or praise? Does the key need to change to fit the choir better at rehearsal? You can only move a ministry, song, or a service in a certain direction if you know where it is going, and then develop the tools to move it in the direction that your Pastor or leader has given. It may take more lessons, or self development or management books, or more bible study. But our commitment to excellence will ultimately determine our ability to move ministry in the right direction.
To know what needs converting, we must know exactly what constitutes good or bad results. We shouldn’t change things that are working just for the experience of newness. Neither should we tolerate or allow dismal performance for the sake of tradition. One thing that helps is being exposed to successful strategies from other ministries. It’s really important to connect with other musicians that are also trying to improve, because there you can find out if there really is a better way of doing what you’re doing. Workshops, classes, and websites such as Gospelmusicians.com can help expose you to other types of music as well.
In a future post I’ll try to touch on how to make those kinds of connections…looking unto the hills,