The Prodigal Altar Boy

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

The Prodigal Altar Boy Blog 171031 - Honor Your Gifts – The Breakdown!

Honor Your Gifts – The Breakdown
Honor your gifts, which come from God. Period.  

 1. Stop Being So Humble

No, really, you’re killing yourselves, spiritually with this one.  No matter your level of musicianship, it is a gift from God. When I get to talk to worship musicians about music, it doesn’t take long for self-deprecation to come out.  On both sides.  I’m trying to make mine go away.  

Rodney Dangerfield showed me that if you make fun of yourself, if you’re the butt of your own joke, when someone does takes a shot at you, they look as if they’re piling on.  Once I get through heckling myself, there won’t be any material left for anyone in the room.

So I get it. I know “why.” I know whole “humble” game and you’re not saving yourself from anything.  I don’t want to take away from #3, but, God Is Glorified, whether you hit that G# on the walk down or not.   Mistakes are going to happen and it’s how we recover that defines us as worshipers. Getting our musical bearings quickly and rolling on is what I strive for.  

Coming together as a musical unit means determining identity.  Since most of the songs you play are by other artists, who you are musically drives interpretation of songs.  While it’s nice to have that one guitarist with the pedalboard so big he can recreate any riff from any song, the more organic your interpretation of songs, the “easier” they become to play.

[Side note:  When it comes to intros, if the introduction of a song is going to tax your musical resources, look at other places in the song (e.g.: chorus, bridge, even the verse) to get started from.  Play to your strengths.  Never start rehearsing a song by saying, “Now how does the intro on the track go?” Start the discussion of how you as a group, or even a particular musician, wants to start the song.]

Identity begins and ends with attitude, because attitude is about knowing who you are.  Also, part of attitude is what you tell yourself.  In honoring your gifts, a good first step is acknowledging them.  “I do know how to _________, and that is a gift from God.”  You need to hear that more often.  Notice there is no adjective in front of that gift.  It is a gift from God, that is a fact.  What you make of that gift is up to you (and God), and honing your gifts is always a good thing.  

Acknowledging our gifts is great way to start paying attention to self-talk and being conscious of self-deprecating comments and thoughts.  When negative self-talk hits is a great time to acknowledge your gifts.  When someone pays you or the group a compliment, stop at “Thank you very much.”  There’s nothing more to add.  If they have a specific question, or want to talk music, answer the question or talk music.  No judgement of your playing/singing implied or requested.

Honing your gifts is a form of worship.  Taking God’s gifts, exploring and expanding them to higher levels gives us fluency to focus on making our worship relevant.   Increasing musical proficiency and using it to deepen worship honors our gifts.  While the process of preparing for worship also increases proficiency, time spent honing your skills is always in addition to time spent preparing for worship.  

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

BLOG TUESDAY - Honor Your Gifts


It’s Tuesday. Blog Tuesday, time I set aside to write down blog ideas to work on and develop.  Today is different because the idea came to me fully formed and I wanted to share it with the group here first.  It feels good to share my thoughts with you.  

Honor Your Gifts

Honor your gifts, which come from God. Period.  

1.     Stop being so humble.    No, really, you’re killing me with this one.  I hear near continual self-deprecating micro remarks.  [“…now you’re so humble about your gifts…you can’t even convince me, you got any…”] These are gifts from God.  Yes, they are amazing.  Put them to use.  Hone them, craft them, and most of all, share your gifts.

2.     There are no part-time saints.  If you think worshiping is something you do on the weekends, let me be clear.  The same eyes on you during worship are the same eyes that are on you after you step off the platform.  The gifts God gives you, talents, circumstances, “chance encounters,” etc., lead us to be salt and light to the world. 

3.     God is glorified. Sometimes you just need to be there.  Yes, we have situations.  Yes, sometimes, we just don’t feel it, and that is the time you need to do it anyway. Even then, God is glorified.  

4. Put in the time.  That is our ministry, we put in the time.  We don’t know what people have been through during a week, and we always have to be musically prepared to meet them where they are.

55.  You better be getting paid. Yes.  Something.  Training (workshops, retreats (no, not ones you’re playing at, but yes you should do those too), cash, gift cards, something.  This is about someone other than you honoring your gifts.  I will fight you on this one because it is so crucial.

66.  Support yourselves. Musicians always have other things going on and you should be attending those things.  If you don’t have anything going on, maybe you should start something! Network!

77.   Support yourselves.  Be kind to one another.  We all have the same goal and if we’re helping each other be and sound our best, we always have to let others know we believe in them.  

88.      Never miss opportunities to play.  Playing with others improves your musicianship. Make the first move and ask if they need _______?  Put yourself out there.

99     Toss, “Well, on the recording…” out of your vocabulary.  Here is the reality:  Why are you spending 75% of song practice on the first seven seconds of a song, and the remainder on the other four minutes?  Practice is like triage, work on the major parts first, then you’ll see how to get it started.  Gifts come with the discernment to figure out how to get into and out of songs.  Don’t be so linear about songs.  The recordings are a starting point, and one of many. Bridges, choruses, etc. are all fair game for ways to get into a song, which is easier when you have the rhythm worked out.

110.  Love each other.