In July of 1999, I found myself sitting across from my first Pastor and boss, launching into my first full-time Music Ministry assignment. The meeting lasted about an hour. He began by stating how thrilled they all were that my wife and I had decided to make this our church home. He proceeded to hand me the keys to the church, show me where my office was located, point out thermostat locations, and inform me what hospitals they use (just in case I needed to fill in for a hospital visit). “Oh, and by the way,” he interjected, “do you know how to drive a Kubota tractor?” “No sir,” I reluctantly replied. “It’s easy,” he reassuringly said handing me the keys. We then walked outside where I was shown the field and long ditch line that I would become very familiar with over the next 5 years. In my mind I was thinking, “Am I the music director here?”
I learned a valuable lesson. Ministry in itself is all about serving others. The first four letters of ministry is M-I-N-I. Let me stop here and say, if you are all about position, fame, and wealth; ministry is not for you. I heard someone say of ministry once, “The pay stinks but the benefits are out of this world.” I went into that meeting thinking I only needed to wear one hat, the musician’s hat, but I quickly understood; I’m going need to get a giant hat rack.
Music ministry is more than just playing and leading worship on Sundays and Wednesdays. That’s the easy part. An effective Music Minister is constantly developing other people. This could be through individual or group lessons, part leaders, music staff, creative thinking teams, worship leaders, directing, instructional classes, mentoring, etc. A great leader in music ministry is not afraid to allow others to excel. Jesus was the ultimate example of this. He never intended on being just a one-man show. His plan was to pick 12 men with different personalities and abilities to fulfill the great commission. He even sent them out on their own to heal and teach others what they had learned from Him. I’m very sure that they were not as eloquent in their speaking as Jesus was, but He allowed them to learn from their mistakes and grow as leaders. Isn’t it amazing that He chose ordinary people to be His disciples?
There are five requirements which must be met before we can effectively serve others.
1. Make a Decision
In Exodus 32:26, Moses stood at the gate of the camp and simply said, “Who’s on the Lord’s side?” The Levites were the only people who came forward. They made a decision to abandon who they were and go forward. Moses knew from that moment that they would be the ones he could use and trust. Moses didn’t ask, “Who wants to be over the tent of meeting or who wants to be over the music?” They had no idea they would be would be given charge of those things, among many others. They simply just made a decision.
2. Kill what is Dear to You
The Lord told Moses to instruct the Levites to kill the firstborn from the other tribes. They had to kill close friends and acquaintances. Sometimes, in ministry, you will have
to cut off relationships. There may be a hobby, or something that you enjoy, that will have to be removed. The Bible says in I Corinthians 13:11, “When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” Paul instructed that we ourselves must die daily.
3. Be Thoroughly Cleansed
After the Levites made a decision, and killed what was dear to them, Moses instructed them to go through a cleansing process. He wanted them set apart from the other tribes. Let me stop here and say, the world and the church were always meant to be separated. I believe in separation, not isolation. Thank God that we look different! We are officially set aside, thoroughly washed, and anointed for service.
4. Carry the Burden
Before the Levites were to minister in the temple, they had to setup the tent, and properly arrange the furniture. God gave specific instructions on how he wanted things placed, and Moses appointed certain qualified people, who were skilled in those areas, to carry out the plan. I was surprised to learn that I would have to learn to wear the sound technician’s hat and the counselor’s hat as a Minister of Music. When God calls you into ministry, and you develop a burden for it, you perform what is requested of you without questioning and with a right spirit. You carry the burden. God’s plan for the Ark of the Covenant (presence of God) was to be carried on the shoulders when it was moved. Uzzah and Ahio got it wrong in two ways. First, it should have never been placed on a cart. As worship leaders we are to always feel the weight of responsibility on our shoulders to usher the presence of God into our services. Secondly, Uzzah committed a deadly error when he reached out and touched the Ark. Worship is always a positive experience. The presence of God should never be pushed into a service. I know it’s out of context, but it’s true in this setting, God said “If I be lifted up, I’ll draw all men unto me.” Carry the burden wrapped in prayer and covered by the spirit of God. Anything carried onto that platform that is of our flesh contaminates the entire service.
5. Have the Ability to Minister
God will never call you into something that you don’t have the ability to follow through with. As a young boy, I was always the kid that was the shyest in the class, never wanted to be called upon to talk or give a speech, and doubted myself when it came to making decisions. I was a follower. But at the age of 17, God had other plans when I was called into ministry. I have had to overcome my fear of getting up in front of a crowd and the worry about what someone might think of my leadership. I know it’s an old cliché, but God does not call the equipped, he equips the called. I am a testimony to this!
You may feel the calling of God on your life, but not feel like you have what it takes. Remember, God uses ordinary people.
Grab your hats, confirm your call, and hang on for a great adventure! Who knows…you might just have to learn how to drive a Kubota tractor along the way.
Bro. Tim Hall
Dean of Music
Texas Bible College