I Always Feel like Somebody's Watching Me

A friend recently called me to say their niece was at event where I was leading worship.  The niece told my friend her thoughts on the music and proceeded to describe in detail the songs, the way I sang, my mannerisms while on stage, etc.  My friend finished by telling me, "So in case you didn't already know, people are watching you!"

The reality that people are paying attention to me and how I act is becoming more real as the years go by.  It's especially become obvious that people are watching even when I'm off stage.  I find more and more as that I get recognized by people when I'm out and about.  I find myself having a lot of "You don't know me, but I know you..." types of conversations.  I'm very thankful for those conversations and the kind words that are exchanged, but the more it happens, the more I realize that I never know who is watching me and observing how I'm behaving while I'm out living life.  I want my character to be consistent with who I profess to be, so there can be a bit of pressure that comes from a lack of anonymity because of course, no one is perfect.  My friend Lee McDerment has shared the wisdom, "Your talent can take you to a place where your character can't sustain you."  The awareness of our own deficiencies should compel is to pursue building up strong foundations that can withstand the scrutiny of spotlight, no matter how bright it is.  We all fall short, but a lack perfection should not mean lack of action in faith.  When your public platform increases, so does the importance for the integrity with which you live your private life to match your public faith.  

Reflecting on it more, I also realize that this is not just a call to those for those with public platforms; this is a call to every Christian.  By definition, our faith is public.  The book of James says "Faith without deeds is dead."  There has to be action to your faith that is outward and public.  So if we are following Jesus, then we will inherently be going public with our faith; and people will be watching.  We need to be living lives that are worthy of imitation, and the only way we can be living those lives is when we are trying to imitate Jesus.  Be people of love, unity, and grace; and don't be those people only when you know people are paying attention.  Be those people when you think no one is watching

How to Lead Great Band Rehearsals: Part 2

One of the best ways to set yourself up for a distraction-free Sunday service is to have rehearsals that allow for more freedom on Sundays.  God deserves all glory for services that usher people into His presence, but he's all also called us to lead his church so there are steps we can take to steward that responsibility well as musicians.  

Part 1 was about the difference between "rehearsals" and "practice" and how a simple tweak of language can cast vision to your team.  Once your language is adjusted, the next step is to back up the vision with preparation. Preparation begins and ends with the leader. You have zero credibility to ask your team for preparation, if you don't lead the way.

Here is how to breakdown preparing for a song:

1. The Beginning! How does each song begin?  Know what instrument starts the song.  Know the timing of chords so that you can communicate.  

2. The Map!  Know the verse, chorus, bridge order.  Where are you trying to take song dynamically?  Know when certain instruments enter/exit.

3. The Standout Sections!  Are there any special elements that demand attention?  Often there's a guitar riff, or a drum fill, vocal run, etc. that takes a song to the next level.  Make sure you are prepared to coach through those parts or at least remind the musicians that you want that part to the stand out.  

4. The Ending!  Have a plan for how to end the song.  Are you going to end abruptly?  Are you going to a big rock and roll ending?  Are you going to end gently with a swellabration (guitars and cymbals milking the swell to encourage celebration)?  

If you have those 4 areas nailed, then you should be prepared enough to navigate through any song and instill confidence in your band that they can trust your direction.

Here are a few other things to keep in mind:

1. Be Decisive- even if you don't have an answer for something, or have overlooked something in your preparation, just be decisive in the moment.  You can always adjust something in between rehearsal and the service.  

2. Have accurate lead sheets- make sure your lead sheets for your band are accurate.  The map and chords need to be exactly like the reference

3. Plan ahead- make sure you are giving your musicians enough time for prep.  A good goal to aim for is to have all prep materials accessible for them 2 weeks prior to rehearsal