Leading by affirmation
What do you want? Should I come to you with a rod, or in love and a spirit of gentleness? (I Cor. 4:21)
In 1971 I was one of a couple hundred young instrumentalists invited to participate in the state college honor band. Our conductor was a well-known band director from a major college, and was renowned for his ability to coax great music out of mediocre musicians. One piece called for an exposed oboe solo, and the conductor wasn’t happy with the interpretation of our oboist. ‘NO!” he screamed. “What is the matter with you?? Play it like this“… and he sang the line to her. She tried again, but she interrupted,” NO, NO, NO!! Didn’t you listen to what I just sang?? Do it like this!” and he sang the line again. After several attempts, none of which were played to his satisfaction, she ran off the stage crying.
I owe a great debt of gratitude to John Rymer, the pastor of the first church I served in Etowah, NC. He called me into his office one Thursday morning and gently chided me for trying to make professional musicians out of a country church choir. He said, ” The choir has to know that you love them before you start demanding so much from them.” These words burned their way into my soul, and re-directed the focus of my music ministry away from an attempt to attain perfection toward a ministry characterized by encouragement and affirmation.
One can conduct through intimidation or by affirmation. Either approach may get short-term results, but leading by affirmation builds a team and results in a sense of unity. Be sure to approach your church choir, orchestra or worship team with a “spirit of gentleness.”