Listening May Be Your Most Important Skill

by vernsanders on May 27, 2011

This the last of a series of posts that might be called “Tales from a Life.”  Everything you read here has either happened to me, or occurred to me as a result of serving in some sort of music ministry position. I suppose this series of posts could also be called “Change Happens…Deal With It.”

Whether you are a church musician or a worship leader, your job description deals with music in some way or another…generally it is a major responsibility. And when it comes to music, one of the key skills is the ability to listen. While it is obvious that listening is important in ensemble  music making, even if you are playing or singing a solo, you still need to listen, in my opinion. Or else you get something like this:

OK…so I’ve never played with a group quite like that, but sometimes it has been closer than I’d like (and if you are/were thinking “I’ll pass the video by” I can only say…you’ll be sooooorrrrrrry…).

Back to the point of this post, though:

  • For those in music/worship ministry listening is very important outside of worship and rehearsal

In my experience, if you don’t listen constantly during the “non-musical” part of your job, you can find yourself “playing alone” so to speak. From meetings (ugh!) to casual conversations, to email exchanges (yes, true), it is important to listen…not just to what is being said, but to what is not being said, and how it is being said.

I think a lot of people who serve in “traditional” settings, have become defensive because they feel as if they are constantly being attacked. It has been my experience that leaders who start off from a defensive posture can create antagonism where there wasn’t any before.

It has also been my experience…and observation…that musicians on all sides of the stylistic universe can become arrogant, condescending, and dismissive of non-musicians. Usually that goes something like this: (cue internal dialogue) “What do you know about my job? I know more about (insert your favorite topic here: worship, music, Bach, Gaither, Casting Crowns, The Folly, …) than you do. Please go away and let me get on with giving you what I know you need.”

Two words: bad idea

Several more: it will work for a while, but eventually it won’t

So listen, listen listen, and then listen some more. You just might find that what you are hearing allows you to make beautiful music…together.

Been there, done that? Let me know your experience (and solutions) by leaving a comment below.

Ipod shuffle status: 3031 (Living Just a Little, Laughing Just a Little – The Spinners)  of 7875 (click the link to learn more about what this is)

Get my EBook The Choir in Modern Worship



Previous post:

Next post: