Worship Leaders

Are You Reflecting or Directing?

Look upon me and be merciful to me,
As Your custom is toward those who love Your name.
Direct my steps by Your word,
And let no iniquity have dominion over me.
Redeem me from the oppression of man,
That I may keep Your precepts.

Psalm 119:132-134

Let me admit this right up front—I’m a child of the ‘60’s.  Although I grew up in Waco, Texas, our family spent most summers in Boulder, Colorado where my Dad taught summer classes at Colorado University.  Talk about a clash of cultures!

You see, in the 60’s, Boulder was a bastion of the radical change of social values championed by the hippy generation.  To say the least, Waco was not.  My values were rooted and grounded in hard work and “toe the line” Southern Baptist theology (although at the time I wasn’t even sure what theology actually meant).

The intersection of those Waco values with the message of the hippy generation wasn’t just limited to my summers in Boulder, however.  That intersection occurred virtually every day as I listened to the music of my 60’s generation on my transistor radio.  Yes, Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin, the Mamas and the Papas, the Stones, Beatles, and the Grateful Dead made the radio charts even in Waco, Texas. 

In the 70’s, my life was impacted by many songs of the Jesus Movement as well as early CCM songs that may be quite familiar to you even today.  Andrae Crouch, Keith Green, Larry Norman, Love Song, The Imperials, and Evie delivered lyrics that shared a set of values that were quite different from the music of my teenage years.

So, you tell me:  Did those songs my generation heard so often in the 60’s “direct” our values or “reflect” the values of our society?  In other words, did those songs open up a whole new way of thinking for us, or did they simply articulate deeply entrenched attitudes and desires?  You can ask the same question about every genre of music including our CCM favorites as well.

After decades of pondering that question, I can assure you of this—the answer is “both.”

As you write and sing, as you play and perform, keep that truth in mind.  The lyrics you choose to sing will impact everyone who chooses to listen.  And what you listen to will impact what you write (see Matthew 12:34-35).  So make a decision today to spend more time reading, speaking, and hearing the Truth of God’s Word.  Then do all you can to deliver to your audience songs that will direct them to God’s Word—to His precepts, to real Truth.  We already have enough of world’s opinions and values floating through the digital universe.

Fearfully and Wonderfully Made

cowrite

Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.
And in Your book they all were written,
The days fashioned for me,
When as yet there were none of them.

Psalm 139:16

So, let’s be honest.  Musicians can certainly live what most of us would consider a “normal” life, but you clearly possess a talent that really does set you apart from the rest of us. 

My Mother was one of the finest musicians I have ever known.   As a child, her passion for music and her talent on the piano just didn’t “take” with me.  Looking back, I missed an amazing opportunity to learn to play from one of the best.  There was a basic problem with that idea of course—I simply wasn’t a musician.

I didn’t realize it at the time but being raised by a musician was God’s way of training me for a lifetime of working with amazingly talented people.  That means I’ve had a front row seat when it comes to the highs and lows that you experience. 

In my earlier days in the Christian Music Industry, I had a close friendship with one of the top-selling Christian rockers of that time named Mylon Lefevre.  I began one of our conversations by complaining about the difficulties of working with talented artists like him.  Very quickly, with tears in his eyes he said these words to me, “You have no idea what it’s like to go to the secret place, where only you and God can go, and He gives you a song.  Then you prayerfully shape it and hide it in your heart, fully knowing that at some point, you have to share it with people like you who will decide if it’s worth hearing.”

I could see his sincerity, but I didn’t really understand the creative process he described.  Of course, after writing a few books, I now understand much better.  So, let me be blunt:  Don’t give up even when “we just don’t get it.” Go and do all that is in your heart.  Write, sing, play, and then share what you find in that secret place with the rest of us. 

Outwardly, you may be a banker, a seamstress, a maintenance man, a mom or dad, a math teacher or fulfilling countless other jobs.  Your primary occupation may change along the journey of life—but you will always be a musician.  That’s just the way you were made so work on your craft and share your songs wherever you can.  We just might need to hear what He has to say through you.

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