Own It

Just as it’s important to not expect perfection of ourselves or other people, it’s also essential that we own our shortcomings. In the past several years I have been baffled by how a significant number of leaders whom I have observed have not acknowledged missteps. To take responsibility for malfunction is a sign of strength and not weakness. Discussion of deficiency with followers or subordinates is the setting of a good example by a leader. In the same way, addressing of incidents of breakdown shouldn’t include over-apologizing. It can include such statements as “I didn’t explain that as best as I could have”, “It wasn’t fair of me to expect that of you”, “I forgot”, “I dropped the ball” and so forth. It is healthy for leaders and followers alike to own shortcomings.

The Two Types of Mentoring

Mentoring is a training tool that is very much under used. There are two main types of mentoring – active and passive. Active mentoring occurs when there is an understood relationship of teaching between mentor and apprentice. The teacher must be aware that she is imparting and the student needs to know that she is receiving what is shared. In order for mentoring to be effective the learning must be welcomed and wanted by the understudy. Further, good tutelage doesn’t just happen. Both the trainer and trainee must do their best to ensure that planned mentoring sessions and meetings do not get squeezed out of their schedules due to the busyness of life. The second type, passive mentoring, occurs when there is not an understood instructional relationship and acquisition on the part of the person learning is primarily achieved through his observation. In fact, the two people concerned may never meet. A musician (or – dancer, videographer, singer, actor, painter and so forth) can learn a lot by observing, dissecting and reading about the art of others. Some mentoring relationships may involve both active and passive mentoring. However, nothing can replace a veteran musician intentionally sharing with a novice artist through a developing relationship how to be proficient. God created us to be in relationship and relationship is more important than any creation of art.

© Kev W Wood 2014

The Danger of ‘War Stories’

Some of the best advice that I received at one point during 21 years of working in group homes was to not tell ‘war stories’ to new staff. This wisdom also applies to arts ministry. War stories are those that often start with the words, “Well, when I was…” or “Well, I remember when…”. They are what veterans find tempting to share with novices; supervisors with subordinates; mentors with protégés. To not share war stories was good counsel since they may be the result of an urge in the teller but do not meet a need in the listener. Further, exchanging war stories can also lead to a back-and-forth conversational one-upmanship. A better use of communication is to support, affirm and encourage those whom we train, mentor and lead. Put another way, war stories are about reference points. If the resulting reference point helps the listener to have a more balanced, healthy and realistic perspective, the sharing of a war story has been beneficial (even if such a recalibration is difficult for the listener). On the other hand, if the new reference point is detrimentally and destructively disheartening and deflating, the teller likely should have resisted the urge and shown more discernment.

© Kev W Wood 2014

To Play the Right Notes

It goes without saying that one of the goals of a member of a church worship team is to sing or play the right notes. For somebody to miss this objective is distracting and affects a worshipper’s experience. In defining who constitutes a worship team most people think of those who play instruments and sing (even though the leading of worship can include spoken and other mediums also). In referring to the singers and musicians I believe that it’s more appropriate to use the term music team. I believe that a worship team, in any given setting, is everybody involved in the leading of worship – on and off the platform, both visible and behind the scenes. What good is it if the singers sing the correct notes and the musicians are in the right key if an audio operator overlooks turning on a microphone when needed? An actor forgets her lines? A computer operator advances a song slide prematurely? A dancer doesn’t become familiar with the stage beforehand? A lighting operator changes a cue at the wrong time? A stage hand doesn’t put the podium in place? And so on. By each person involved in the carrying out of a service plan being proficient in his or her area of responsibility and committed to striving for excellence (but not expecting perfection of one’s self) worshippers present will be able to focus on worshipping. May we each seek to consistently play the right notes in our respective roles of service.  May leadership expect excellence in each area of ministry.

© Kev W Wood 2014