Alright, all you amazing, awesome, worship team members & leaders – I’m talking to you! You are, quite literally, God’s gift to me. The ones who can just always pull it off, no big deal. You can improvise on the fly, you can play by ear, you can pick up the musical theme in a heartbeat – you are flipping awesome. I love ya. And I love having you on my team. I love how easy it is to play with you, how easy it is to get our band gelling with you around, and how fluidly you pull it all together.
I’m so sorry to say there is a “but.” BUT. I’ve known so many of you. I AM you. I am not being boastful, here, just honest. I can realistically walk into practice completely unrehearsed and pull it off, no problem.
But there is a problem. Just because we can technically “pull it off” without practicing, does not mean that practicing is unnecessary. Let me reiterate here – I am you. I am all of these things below. I did not read this in a book, I learned it from my own mistakes and frustrations by being you. So, calm down, Stevie Ray.
1. Practice makes perfect
Is there anything more cliche in the music world? Probably not. Does that make it less true? Definitely not. I’m sorry, but neither I nor you are being recruited to go on tour with or BE John Mayer so I just see no reason to assume that we don’t need more practice. If I’m wrong and you’ve got that offer coming in the mail, then this doesn’t apply to you because you already know this simple truth: John Mayer and those like him did not get that way by accident. It was… you guessed it… practice. More practice. And then once they got it perfect, they kept practicing. When John stops practicing, you can stop practicing.
2. Whoa, didn’t see that coming
Yeah, but you know who did? That guy on the other side of the stage who practiced. I have seen this countless times (me). One of us (me) is just cruising along, doing what everyone else is doing, until that one part. The part that everyone else listened to a hundred times and mastered and therefore played in sync. But you (I) didn’t. You (I) breezed right over it in your (my) practice time and so you (I) forgot just now when they all played it right. I don’t care who you are (I am), if you (I) don’t know the song inside and out, to a band, you are (I am) useless.
3. The band always knows
You know how your mom always knows when it was you? Your bandmates can always tell when you haven’t practiced, when you’re making it up as you go. And more often than not (especially for those of them who had to practice relentlessly to get where they are) – they are not impressed. It is uncourteous to show up unrehearsed, no matter how “good” you might be. The reality is without practice, you won’t be as polished as you should be. No ifs, ands, or buts. Honour your leader and your band by showing up prepared.
4. Your version isn’t the same
Most of the time, worship teams are learning from a recording. That’s what everyone else in the band is listening to. Unless your worship leader has given you all instructions to come up with your own version, you have to be familiar with whatever arrangement everyone is learning, otherwise its going to be difficult to play cohesively with your team.
5. Honor God with your gift
Practice is intentional. It means time playing and thinking through the songs you’re learning. It is a sacrifice of time. Taking the time to practice, especially when you don’t need it, says to God, “I want to offer you the absolute best possible that I have to give” as opposed to, “that’s good enough, right, God?”
Someone reminded me of the parable of the talents, once (found in Matthew 25). Talents back then referred to silver but the parable is about abilities, interestingly enough. A master was going away and left three servants in charge of his property. One servant received five talents, one got two, and one received one. The first man doubled the talents by trading. The second also doubled his talents, though he had less. But the last man dug a hole and hid his master’s money. When the master came back, he rewarded the first two and said, “Well done, good & faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little, I will set you over much.” To the lazy servant, he showed disappointment and cast him away. He basically says, “you knew I was coming back, you could have at the very least invested the money in a bank so I would get interest” (Matthew 14-30 paraphrased).
God gives us gifts and talents which he has left to our safekeeping. He doesn’t want us to squander them, we are to grow them. Going back to the first point – there just is no point at which we are off the hook – there’s always room to be better when it comes to music. Shouldn’t we be setting an example to those around us that we A) do not take our gifts for granted B) do not think we have musically arrived and C) believe God is coming back to claim our grown up gifts for Himself? The parable explains to us that when our talent grows, God’s glory grows. He expects us to steward our gifts well, not hide them in the ground and say “that’s probably good enough.”
If nothing else, make practice your humble response to God’s gift of talent to you. Steward the gift well and he will set you in responsibility over more and more.
-Molly Broomer (originally posted on itsallrighthere.org – used by permission…Thanks Molly!)