In music and worship arts ministry, the month of December is always full of activity. I need to take time out, though, and put some thoughts out there. Journaling was something I did a few years ago and it helped me to focus and hear better what God was revealing to me. I’ve gotten away from that discipline, but am determined to get back in the swing. A “blog” ……. makes sense since I type much faster than I pen out.
As I readied my music tote bag for tomorrow morning’s Christmas Cantata and evening Candlelighting & Communion, I was thinking about the busy-ness of this month – not in the usual secular way, but from an insider serving in ministry in the church. It’s not a sudden, come-upon-you thing. Then again, neither is Christmas in the secular world – it was actually before Halloween that I saw the first Christmas decorations appear in stores. Gak.
But ministry-wise, it begins with my planning and preparation phase which starts way back in August to get music ordered, then while the congregation is enjoying the choirs’ presentations of music leading up to Thanksgiving and Christ the King Sunday, all must be in place for Advent, the annual Christmas musical with the youth and of course the Cantata and then Christmas Eve worship service.
Planning out the details is the easiest part for me, of course; it’s all under my control to put the timeline in place and neatly organize what needs to be done and when. Those who have known me for years would also say it’s the part that is the easiest for me because I was born for dissecting and detailing out the big picture. OK, some may not think that’s a good thing, but, hey, God gives us all gifts for different purposes and this happens to be one of mine.
Getting all of the volunteers rehearsed and understanding the purpose of the presentation is pretty easy, too, as long as I continue to actively communicate to them the spiritual side of what they are doing since the last thing anyone needs is merely “another activity.” I can’t control how many volunteers attend rehearsals nor can I control the level of anyone else’s commitment to the ministry I’m in charge of leading except my own. But it is well within my power to demonstrate a contagious enthusiasm, be smiley, encouraging and quick to praise when their group effort is right on …… and even when it’s not so.
Also under my control is creating the multi-media presentations. Working on the videos and powerpoints may be time-consuming, but I find it very enjoyable and engrossing since I love the creative-technical aspects of my work. Getting all of the equipment ready and in place on Sunday in order to incorporate the multi-media, however, is not always as under my control as I would like it, but I am competent enough with working all of the boards and computer that I can get equipment in place and sound levels set an hour before anyone else arrives, then meet with the volunteer techs when they come in before worship service and go over in as short a time frame as I have to work within to get us all on the same page.
What is happily not mine to control is how the Holy Spirit moves during the worship service. I see planning and preparation on my part as a necessary part of my profession that allows the pastor and worship team to be ready to move not only as planned but for those beautifully unplanned moments when a song “needs” to be extended another chorus long or the prayers are led in a direction we hadn’t anticipated or folks come to kneel at the altar and the band and praise team seem to all “know” at the same time that we are going to segue to a certain song to allow those folks more prayer time with the Lord. What has always moved me the most is when a member of the band or praise team – who wouldn’t normally speak into the mic willingly – witnesses or shares an insight during worship that they suddenly felt led to share. That gives me tingles! Yeah, man! God is IN the house!!! Woooooooo!!!
No matter how difficult going through the processes of rehearsal and tech prep, creating rehearsal tracks for the choir, receiving yet more criticism from the usual “grouches” or being exhausted from sheer emotional outlay, I still love what I do because I love Who I am doing it all for. I love my vocation, am completely secure in my anointing to do what the Lord has called me to, and cannot see myself ever doing anything else. I thank God for His providence and wisdom that He always opens the doors that need to be opened for me and hands me on a silver platter precisely what I need at the exact moment He has determined I need it. Maybe not always in MY preferred timeline……. but always in His. I count on that. I trust in it.
That’s the difference between all the activity and ministry: activity is just, well, keeping busy. Ministry is purposefully and intentionally worshiping God Almighty, Jehovah Jireh, Mighty to Save, Yahweh, my Strong Deliverer, Pure Source – on my mind all day, intending the work of my hands for His purposes and ultimately (I pray) using me as His vessel to bless others by overflowing His love and grace and mercy from me to all those I come in contact with, not just on Sunday morning but everywhere at all times. I control what all I do. God controls whether or not He blesses and prospers it. I pray that my faith and this belief shine through in what I do and say everyday.
No need to wish me luck. I will take the peace of knowing God is in control with me to the Cantata tomorrow morning.