Classical musicians know there are certain things that you JUST DON’T DO. You don’t look directly at someone in your section while they are playing a solo. You don’t show up right on time. Right on time is late. You don’t wave to your Aunt Mille during the concert even if this is the first time she’s ever seen you in a tuxedo. That kind of thing honestly just ruins the mood for everyone there (except your Aunt Mille).
In all seriousness, some of these no-no’s are universal rules that should be abided by, not only by musicians, but by the church.
So allow me to introduce you to 5 “musician taboos” that anyone who calls herself a follower of Christ might want to consider adopting.
- Don’t Play Someone else’s part
OK, so you didn’t get first chair the last time auditions came around. And you think maybe you are better than the guy that won. Guess what? He won, you didn’t. So don’t go playing his big solo part while you are warming up with him in earshot. It just makes you look petty (and jealous).
Church-goers can be quick to despise their role. But all roles are necessary for the church to function as it was meant. Check this out, ‘So the body is not one part but many. If the foot should say, “Because I’m not a hand, I don’t belong to the body,” in spite of this it still belongs to the body…..God has placed each one of the parts in one body just as He wanted.’
So just because we might be smarter or more talented than those above us in the Lord, let’s hold back on the judgement. So what’s our role? It’s pretty simple. We’ve gotta suck it up and play the part we’ve been assigned to the best of our abilities.
2. Don’t talk back to the Maestro
When the conductor (who’s usually tall, old and German) tells you how to play your part, you don’t argue. You don’t explain why your interpretation is better. You don’t ask for a private meeting after rehearsal. You just nod and do what he is asking of you to the best of your ability. Even someone who raises their hands to ask one too many questions is likely on the road to getting booted.
So, when the pastor (who is usually old, slightly rotund, and spits a lot) tells you how to do X, Y or Z, don’t argue. Don’t explain why your viewpoint is right. Don’t explain why you like this other leader’s way of thinking about this or that better than his. God ordains authority and our inability to submit to those God has appointed over us reflects our inability to submit to God himself.
3. Don’t suddenly totally reinterpret Beethoven (or the Bible)
Beethoven is awesome. His music is simple, yet profound. He was a master at giving us exactly what we need, right on that page of music to tell us what he meant. Orchestras have been interpreting his music for centuries, and the majority have settled on a reasonable understanding of “Beethoven style”. When someone goes out in left field and starts messing with that style, it simply doesn’t work. It’s just not true to what was written. It’s just not Beethoven.
Same with the bible. This thing has been around a long time. Masterful minds have spent lifetimes plumbing the depths of its wisdom. Any new interpretation of scripture which takes things in a totally new direction should be considered highly suspect. God doesn’t suddenly give a revelation to some guy now that he refused to give 200 or 300 years ago. If God thinks it’s that important, it’s been revealed to not just someone, but many trustworthy someones over the course of history.
4. Don’t be a know-it-all
Musicians need each other to make music. I mean, there are a handful in the whole world who wander around making a living as solo acts, but they are few and far between. Being successful in music is as much about how easy you are to be around as it is about how well you play. If you are constantly nitpicking every player near you, guess what? Even if you are the next Yo-Yo Ma people won’t invite you back. In order to make our best music, we need to be in an environment that invites our best and doesn’t require us to constantly rise above the negative energy and attitudes of others. Music is challenging enough without nay-sayers and judgie-judgersons critiquing our every note.
It’s the same in our Christian walk. We need comrades who encourage, exhort, and uplift. We naturally run screaming from those who want to tisk-tisk us about skirt length, hair length, or wearing non-mixed fibers. Don’t be THAT guy, ok? I promise, when you learn to encourage, and take time to laugh and love you will find yourself suddenly surrounded by friends and helpers. Remember the journey is way better with a friend. Even Christ sent the disciples out 2 by 2.
5. Don’t do the bare minimum
There are lots of menial jobs attached to being a musician. Somebody’s got to put those music stands in place or restack those chairs. Someone’s got to pick the music and organize it for everyone. Somebody’s got to book the travel for that gig, or make sure there is an itinerary in place for all the musicians. Great collaborators know that we add value not just by doing our “one job” well, but by being a team player who contributes in as many ways as possible.
As Christians, this is a great rule of thumb. I’m sure we’ve all been guilty of wondering, ‘What’s the minimum amount of church-going, praying, and holiness that will get us to heaven?’ Here’s the thing. When we go through our lives just doing the minimums we never get to the blissful stuff. We never experience the real power, the unspeakable joy, the full intimacy of relationship with God. We just float along, missing the good stuff, hoping to avoid the bad stuff. That’s no way to live.
And when we join a church in order to consume (consume relationships, consume sermons, consume worship) rather than contribute (by giving, praying, volunteering, and serving diligently), we actually become a weight rather than being one who helps to shoulder the load. Imagine how different our churches would be (and how much more effective) if they were filled with individuals who instead of asking the church how it can serve them said, how can I serve my church?
I could go further, but these taboos are a good place to start. Let’s get beyond the minimums, let’s encourage and exhort, and let’s know when to let the leader lead. These “donts” lead us to “do” the stuff that matters.