Category Archives: leadership
… The harder challenge is to do what is hard and fair and noble even when you don’t feel like it at all, when you are “sick and tired” and tired and sick.
Every day matters. Every minute matters.
…There are no sick days. So get that out of your head, grab your sword, and start swinging.
This article shows the value in taking small steps (sort of like agile) toward a project while continuing to assess its value can lead to great rewards rather than trying to assess all of the value up front prior to doing any investment.
A good, short read.
I recently was asked on a social forum who I would like to have dinner with, and I answered with this post..
My adopted grandfather, Leslie H. Burns (actually Leslie Horatio Seleca Boyer Burns). He worked on a farm breaking horses and plowing in his youth up in western Canada, then lived in P.E.I. and then married and lived in Massachusetts. He met the Lord in his 40’s and God forever changed him.
He started seminary after taking his GED (or whatever they called it then). He got to the math and said “God if you want me to be a preacher, You’ll have to help me with this!” He told me “Then it all seemed just like common sense.” He went on to pastor several churches and capture the hearts of many people. It is his life often that encourages me that it is never too late to make a difference. He preached and acted as an interim pastor right into his 90’s.
My mom met him and his wife Myrtle at a church in Manchester, NH, and they adopted each other. He had a banjo clock that when I was little he would bring me to and open up the innards and show me the pendulum. He never had children of his own and cherished his time with mom and with us.
God called me to be a worship leader and song writer when he was in his 90’s and I was living a too busy life. He died only a few years after that and I miss him still though it has been about 12 years.
I had a dream a few months after he died. He was at a church office and was taking things out of his briefcase and putting them into mine. I said “Wait! I want you to tell me more about Jesus.” He smiled one of those smiles that comes from a lot of years of knowing and said “You let Jesus tell you about Jesus.”
I miss him. I know that still in my life I don’t live as dedicated to the Lord and as consistent in prayer as he did. I can remember as a boy living above his room (he lived for a while with us when he retired), hearing him cry out to God for one person after another every night. He prayed for me every day.
I look forward to eternity where we can not only do lunch, but spend time in worship and communion together again.
This is obviously a work that will stay in progress…
1. What is worship?
In its simplest essence worship takes two forms: ascribing worth and obedience.
As we recognize the echoes of God in life and then start to interact with Him we realize the enormous worth He has. The weight of this understanding of who He is brings the fruit of ascribing worth to Him. We can do this personally in many ways. Because we are image bearers (made in His likeness), we are creative and so we naturally create in our expressions of ascribing worth.
Having made it that far – realizing that God loves us and echoing back our love for Him naturally drives us to a desire to please Him. So we search out His desire for us and attempt to be obedient.
I think it is important to make the distinction between worship (what is happening inside us) and “expressions of worship” which are the outwardly visible acts we perform to express our worship.
God speaks in Isaiah 29:13 “These people honor me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.”  A worship act that is not coming from the heart is not authentic worship.
2. What does music and creativity have to do with it?
Bono wrote: “Show-business is Shamanism: Music is Worship; whether it’s worship of women or their designer, the world or its destroyer, whether it comes from that ancient place we call soul or simply the spinal cortex, whether the prayers are on fire with a dumb rage or dove-like desire … the smoke goes upwards … to God or something you replace God with … usually yourself.” 
People must worship. We ascribe worth all day every day. Music allows us to express worship as a community. N.T Wright said that our worship voices creation’s praise. 
Music is a powerful tool and can change people’s life and affect the way they walk it out. It can act to center us back to what we believe is important and keep us grounded in truth or take us far away from it. Thus the songwriter has a big responsibility.
3. How does worship further the Kingdom Story in the world?
Dan Wilt wrote: “… our primary mission is to tell the story of salvation, from original creation, to fall from relationship, to restoration through cross and resurrection, to complete and universal new creation.” 
To do this in the Church community we have created cyclic celebrations and rememberances that tell specific stories and remind us of what God has done, what He is doing and what will be. This again points to the gathering as a place of focus and the content of that gathering being very important. We must be intentional in our story telling.
4. How should all of the above affect how we lead worship as worship leaders?
Knowing that we are the point man or woman in the act of storytelling and that our decisions can affect dramatic change in the lives of another’s soul is a huge thought. Nonetheless it is true. Nowhere like in a worship gathering do we have the opportunity to take on the huge challenge of:
a. Reflecting the echoes of the world around us and bringing that echo back around to a facet of who God is.
b. Bringing reminders of the stories of God and inviting others to retell it.
c. Ascribing worth directly to God and creating those liminal spaces  (a threshold or door into the heavenly realm) where a worshipper can commune corporately with God.
That is a lot to do in the 20 minutes generally given it in a worship service. To me this means that we must make an impact on our congregation not only of what we are doing, which is huge in itself, but also that they should continue with their expressions throughout the week. We should also make time for specific, non-seeker sensitive (someone seeking God out who may come on a Sunday morning but need the acts of worship explained to them) worship times where the worship can flow and the exchange can be untethered from the rigors of some Sunday morning schedules.
It is more than we can do alone and to do it right boils down to one thing: The act of planning a worship “set” must be an act of worship itself. We must try and create a liminal space of our own to interact with God and hear what He has to say about the time we have allotted us. It is the only way we can lead: by asking our leader for guidance.
 “The Blue Note: Can Your Faith Face The Music?” Jan./Feb. Vol. 14 No. 1 2005 Pages 32-35
 Isaiah 29:13 The Bible, New International Version
 Dan Wilt, What Is Worship? (Houston: Vineyard Music USA, 2006), DVD
 Wilt, Dan, “Essentials In Worship Theology”, p.32
 Wilt, Dan, “Essentials In Worship Theology”, p.42
In Dan Wilt‘s article linked above he speaks of mentoring and being mentored. It is a great and much appreciated article and reiterated several things I feel about mentoring and could probably not say as well as Dan.
Dan Wilt in Essentials in Worship Theology wrote in his text,
“We are always flowing in some way and are at our best when creative inlets and outlets are occurring simultaneously in our lives. It is vital that our understanding of the nature of worship never leave it devoid of an ongoing creative flow from and for our local communities.” 
The lack of an inlet in a stream dries up the river. The lack of an outlet ends in flooding and the stream going outside of its banks. If both are not moving, then the result is stagnation and a place where once clean water becomes diseased and dangerous.
As artists, it is important to remember to keep the flow moving in our lives. As leaders, it is important to encourage that flow in others and to nurture it when it is in our power to do so.
For the last 5 years though I have been fairly active in ministry, I have felt “clogged” in fulfilling my calling. I was taking some flow in, but not really immersing myself like I had in the past. And while I was playing, serving and leading worship, I still was not stepping out like I felt God had directed me to. I have become complacent.
Being a person who firmly believes that the physical in our lives map to our spiritual condition, I am not surprised that I was recently diagnosed with and am currently being treated for a bunch of blood clots in my leg. I am walking out getting them cleared up and dissolved and at the same time trying to make changes in life that walk out my calling and thus get the life flow, spiritual and physical, moving again.
It was a breath of fresh air to realize that our creativity is important and even more than that a reflection of Him. To ignore it is to ignore His work in us.
Nonetheless it is sometimes difficult to make time for these things that make the life flow. For me it has been some simple changes that have already made a difference. A few set times to pursue fellowship with those who I can give and receive encouragement and sharpening, and a plan and target to focus creativity on. These are helping me make the turn, and will stick, God willing.
May God give us the insight to see how and where we can find that fulfilling activity that both brings Him pleasure and makes the life flow in and out of us.
1. Dan Wilt, Essentials In Worship Theology, p. 43-44
This is not the homework but a longer discussion I am inviting input to on the side. So if you don’t have time and need to see my homework just skip down a couple posts…
It was hard picking something to write about this time. I had several but felt like I would have to write and research a lot more to really get it said. One that really eats at me is this one. So many people in our congregation only end up worshipping at the Sunday service, but that is somewhat geared down compared to what it could be because we are sensitive to time. I felt that NT Wright’s indictment against much contemporary worship and not taking time to really read and dig into scripture  rang true, but we watch our service with a stopwatch (the schedule runs 2 minutes for this, 1 minute for that) – what to do?
Many worship services that ran a lot longer just seemed richer. Sometimes they had some moments that were not as refined as something more concise, but the assumption was that we would worship as long as it takes. I miss that.
Maybe the real key is to be engaged during the week. The Sunday morning service really does act as a catalyst for people and if we can engage them then maybe they will engage in deeper times of intimacy.
But times of large corporate worship gatherings are powerful times. I have seen God do amazing things in these sort of times. Not that God is limited to them, but I feel like Morphew said about the festivals that God really wants and enjoys these times with us.  For us to leave them out of our regular cycles of gathering I feel causes us to live less fully.
So I think – how about Sunday or Saturday night? Make it clear that this is an “as long as it takes” meeting. But the issues of time still come up. What if the guitarist needs childcare in order to play – you have limits.
What do you think?
1. NT Wright, The Word In Worship, Inside Worship (collection)
2. Derek Morphew, The Restoration of Celebration, Inside Worship (collection)
In Dan’s video  and the article linked above, Dan speaks of the Worship Artisan and proposes definitions and guidelines for becoming and being a worship artisan.
The immediate thought I came to was that often artisan and journeyman are used in the world of craftsmen. This immediately got my attention and gave me a new scope of measurement of where I was at as a worship leader.
In the Medieval times, there were guilds for various crafts. These guilds had positions within their craft of Apprentice, Journeyman, and master.
The apprenticeship makes a commitment to serve the master craftsman, traditionally a live-in position. They serve for a term of three to seven years. Then with the master’s approval, they become a journeyman (you can find a bit more information on a journeyman here). The journeyman can then work for any master craftsman who will have them.
A journeyman cannot have apprentices working for him. It is not until he has served as a journeyman and brings his work to the guild for approval that he can become a master.
I would guess that many today would consider the worship music industry to be the “guild” of our time, but if you applied this idea to the “profession” of a worship artisan, as someone trying to attain artisan status, you could derive several parallels:
1. At some point we are all apprentices. At some point, we decide we want to lead worship and learn the skills to do it. We become an apprentice of Jesus, and we need to stay close (live with Him) to get to know Him. This time is essential and cannot be bypassed. We also likely apprentice under another worship leader or pastor.
2. Once we have spent some time with our Master, and possibly under the guidance of some artisans, we will eventually graduate to become journeymen, able to be given a task and perform it on our own, but continuing under the covering of a master, and The Master.
3. Some will then gain master status, although for many it is not because of their maturity, but from a hit record. This puts them in the place of a master in that they are a craftsman unto themselves, and can work independently of another master. While some do this successfully, I believe the best worship artisans, the true masters, are accountable to others, and always subject to their One Master.
Someone once told me that to be a good leader you should always have a Paul (Father / Mentor), always have a Timothy (Son / Apprentice / someone to Mentor), and always have a Barnabus (peer / friend) in your life.
I feel this describes much of the place a true artisan would be in. If he is being mentored, he acknowledges that he is still growing. If he is mentoring, he must keep his own art sharp and fresh so that it can be passed on. If he is accountable to a peer, he has a lifeline that will help him remember his life song when he has himself maybe forgotten the words.
So I hope that as a journeyman and continued apprentice of Jesus and a servant to my Father, the ultimate Master, that I will finish a craftsman held in good esteem by the guild, and be a true artisan. Knowing my craft, my Master’s ways, and that my tools will be found well used and put to good use when I lay them down.
Some of the info on the Medieval guild system I got from this website: http://web.nickshanks.com/history/medieval/careers 
1. Wilt, Dan The Rise Of The Worship Artisan (audio track)
2. Jariwala, Nikhil Medieval Economy – Professions