I am a member of the musicians group at church. I lead worship sometimes. A couple of years ago I began to have piano lessons as I was very keen to write songs. The words have never been that much of a problem to come up with, but I really don’t do tunes. I thought that if I could play an instrument, I would come up with the tunes. I am not the most disciplined of folk, but I actually did practice quite hard. My music teacher used to reward me with coloured stickers, to put on my music folder, if she thought I had done really well. The minute she introduced the stickers, getting the sticker became the focus of my lessons. I would try to get note perfect and put myself under intense pressure to get the sticker.
You know how it is with teachers – they are constantly raising the hurdles. Once a pupil gets one thing right, the teacher moves them on to something more challenging. It was the same with the stickers. Suddenly they were not being given away like sweeties! I was required to do much more to get the sticker! Of course, I just piled on the pressure! It was unreal. Learning to play was no longer fun – not because of my teacher, who was wonderful, but because of my being so “reward” orientated. I wasn’t enjoying the experience and it wasn’t helping me to find my tunes. So I decided to stop taking lessons. I admire those people that stick at these things – but for me, I don’t think it was something God called me to do. It was not a gift. Maybe it will be in a few years time. I think that gifts have times and seasons for some people and some situations.
Last night at musicians, we were practicing worshipping spontaneously. Sometimes we sing hymns and choruses in a very rigid manner. Perhaps it is all the way through twice and then we move on to the next song. What I want to see is the songs or the choruses being like an airport runway – just the starting point on the journey of worship. As I read the words of the song, I look to see what God wants to say to me, or find the response that is in my heart to the words. Often in our worship there is an opportunity as the musicians play to do that.
Yesterday I discovered that I have built safe areas, predictable responses. I begin to sing that God is worthy of worship, that there is no one like Him and I bow before His throne. All of this is very true – but for me it is safe stuff that I have sung about before. The sentiments expressed are "normal fare", the content of my songs is "the usual stuff". I think it is almost done without thinking – it is my “worship mode”.
I was particularly challenged last night to not do that. The minute I heard the usual words slipping out, I felt God saying that I was being lazy. I was not really exploring just how the words of a song had really affected me. I made myself really think about what it was I really wanted to say. What came out was a cry of my heart. God is easy to love but loving God with all our heart and soul is just the first step. Loving people is the next step. I was asking God in my song to give me His heart, that I could love and reach out to the lost, the way that Jesus did, the way that I was called to. Powerful stuff! It was very different, and unique and…my heart’s response!