You’re probably familiar with the game Rock, Paper, Scissors. The rules are simple:
Rock beats scissors.
Scissors beats paper.
Paper beats rock.
Each of the options carries an equal ability to trump or be trumped – unless you’re playing Kramer and Mickey’s version as shown in this Seinfeld clip, where “nothing beats rock.”
Now I’m going to apply rock, paper, scissors to church musicians. It’s an odd analogy, but stick with me!
There are many qualities that make for an ideal church musician. But for the sake of analogy, let’s say they all come down to three: skill, character, and spirituality (substitute “anointing” if you prefer). Like rock, paper, and scissors, each of these qualities carries a needed strength. And none of them are strong enough to always trump the other two.
You may know someone who is extremely dialed in spiritually. He or she has a close relationship with God and always seems able to discern exactly what’s needed spiritually in a situation. However, if that person is not skilled in music, there are better venues for that person’s leadership than singing or playing guitar.
Or consider the person who is skilled but lacks character. I once worked with a church music team who were struggling with their guitar player. He was very skilled, but he also had an insubordinate attitude. Thankfully he realized that his actions were disrupting the team and he stepped down.
Even having two of the three qualities doesn’t necessarily create a winning combination. A musician can be skilled and have good character, but that doesn’t mean he’s leading worship in spirit.
The reason I bring this up: many times leaders of church music teams favor one quality over another. Their thoughts and actions indicate that one of the qualities trumps the other two. They are like Kramer and Mickey, stuck in an endless stalemate. “Rock, rock…”
For example, if skill is valued more, one could end up with a very professional-sounding band that’s great to listen to but void of any spiritual fruitfulness.
On another hand, a distorted priority on character can lead to a legalistic environment. Imagine a musician who is very skilled and loves God, but is dismissed because he runs late to rehearsals or needs growth in his emotional maturity.
Then there’s the environment where it’s all about “anointing,” regardless of skill or real character. That is a very unfortunate situation indeed.
As leaders of church music teams, we need to look for musicians who have or can develop these qualities. We need to value others’ strengths where they currently lie. And we need to learn how to love others in their weaknesses.
That doesn’t mean be accepting of everything. You should set minimum standards for each category. But you need that skilled musician who needs some attitude development. You need that anointed vocalist who needs a little ear training.
And what’s also true: they need the opportunity.
What are your success stories in this area? Your trials? How have you found a way to see the potential in your musicians? Start or join the discussion below!