When I first learned that my official title was 'Music Minister' I cringed. I grew up poking fun at the lack of excellence in church hymns and the corny emotionalism found in certain denominational music. Sure, some churches tried hard to be excellent, but they were, ultimately, a long way off.
But now I was leading people in Christian worship music and amazingly, in my own church community, I was the one holding the destiny of what I used to make fun of!
I guess, like the many media images of pastors that we see, portrayed as boring, impotent, and self-effacing, I likewise had a warped image of what I thought a music minister was supposed be. I knew I had to replace that image in my mind quickly if I was going to have any success.
I was pleasantly surprised when I looked into my Classical music background. I found that many of those we consider great composer/musicians had religious convictions and inspiration for their music. Among them were Messiean, Beethoven, Mozart, and Mendelsohn, to name a few. But the one who stood out to me as a potential role-model was J.S. Bach.
Here was a man that stood for moral and spiritual integrity, as well as artistic integrity. He was not only inspired by Christianity in his work, but he lived it. Here was someone who took Martin Luther's 'praise songs' and brought them to a much higher artistic level. He was an innovator in musical tuning, keyboard technique and new instruments, as well as being the 'father' of Western art music. I couldn't think of a better example to draw from, as I embarked upon my new journey into contemporary Christian music.
My second example and role model for being a 'music minister' came from the Bible: King David. Before he reigned as king, he watched his father's sheep, out in the middle of nowhere. He was unknown, unappreciated and yet he was content to worship God in the wilderness...no recording contracts, no concert tours...just himself, his harp and God Almighty.
I related to this picture of David, because in my high-school years, I was 2,000 miles away from home, living in the generally unoccupied home of my violin teacher, practicing between 5-8 hours a day. Since I did my high school work by correspondence, I had no friends. It was just me, my instrument and God.
I learned in those days not to be afraid of being alone, not to be afraid of asking probing questions about life, why I'm here and what I'm doing. I'm sure David did this too.
Out of David's relationship with God, he wrote songs that have echoed through the ages, drawing hearts into a greater focus of God Himself. David, too, was an innovator of new methodologies of worship, new musical instruments, and ultimately, a new theology that made a way for the Messiah of the New Testament. David saw things that others couldn't see, he led Israel into a success that others couldn't accomplish, and he became the channel through which God Himself would enter the world.
After seeing these two examples of 'music ministers', I was fueled with new enthusiasm. I still don't like hearing the phrase 'music minister', but when I realized that I was in the same line as J.S. Bach and King David it sure made me feel a lot better!