No More Lone Rangers
If your church is anything like mine, there is a lot to get done. The task of pulling off a service every week requires figuring out tons of details. If I were honest, there are many times that I’m so overwhelmed by details that I don’t really care what we are doing or why we are doing it; I just want the information.
Then once I have the information, I just want to get it done…and please don’t change anything. I’ve got a lot to do, and I could get it done faster if you would leave me alone and stop tweaking your idea.
Before I wrote this out, it sounded funny in my head. Now I’ve written this, though, it seems more sad and depressing. I get where I’m coming from because it is true, there is a lot to do. But on the other hand, I imagine that the people I work with have a very different picture of my response.
Because we are overwhelmed by the tasks before us, it is very easy to get into “Lone Ranger” mode just to keep our heads above water. This is hard to do when you have your head down all the time trying to stay ahead of the curve. I would argue that this posture contributes to many of the negative sides of being a technical artist—being misunderstood and feeling isolated. I don’t think it is the way that God intended the Body of Christ to function.
Tunnel Vision = Blinders
When we are in “get it done” mode, we start seeing things through tunnel vision—focused only what is right in front of us. When the work piles up, focus ensures that the stuff will get done, which is good. But since tons of work can be the case most of the time, our hyper focus means we aren’t generally focused on anything else…ever.
Since most of us work on teams, this tunnel vision really becomes like a set of blinders. No, I’m not talking about the kind that you point at the audience for the acapella chorus, because that’s cool. I’m talking about the kind that horses wear. They keep the horse heading in one direction by keeping the horse from seeing what’s around them.
When you are on a team, these blinders can tend to isolate you from those around you. Having blinders on keeps you from being aware of what is really going on. If all you are doing is staring at the cue sheet following the lyrics, you’ll tend to miss the unplanned pastor walk-up. If you are staring down at the console, you’ll miss turning up the solo instrument that is up on the IMAG screen so everyone can hear it. If you are too busy programming the perfect lighting sweep, you don’t realize the song calls for much less. You have blinders on.
In the local church, we are all working together to pull off a service where people can encounter God. This can only happen if we are in tune with what is really happening. If we are so fixated on what is right in front of us, what are the chances we are missing what is happening in the room? In the settings I’ve been in, these moments are usually ones we don’t plan for. If I am flying by the seat of my pants or so consumed by the work that needs to get done, how many of those moments do I miss? Not only for your congregation but for myself?
Moments that you should be able to engage in. Moments that help you stay connected to why you have decided to be involved in production in the local church. To be alert and aware to the moment. To respond in the moment. To adjust the plan to create the exact right moment.
I love to plan. I love to put on my blinders and get some work done. But I love responding in the moment more. I love being super-prepared so that I can have my head up and absorb what is about to happen.
When you are Lone Ranger-ing it, when you are pushing ahead like there is nothing else going on but your part, you are missing a key component of what it means to be on a team. You are also missing opportunities to combine your gifts with the gifts of the others on your team. When you are so busy that nobody can bother you, you are not living out the Body of Christ the way God intended it.
You end up isolating yourself from others. People who are right next to you in the booth, people on stage, people back stage, people in the congregation.
The work we are doing is difficult and requires all of us pulling together, not everyone pulling on their own at their own pace. If you are unaware of the people who are pulling right next to you, you are going to bump into them. You are going to clash. And what are the chances you are even pulling in the same direction?
We cannot do this without each other. And we can’t do this together unless we are aware of what others have going on. If you are just trying to pull your own load, you can’t make it as a team—unless everyone adjusts to your pace. Any good team can compensate for each other, but adjusting the pace for the same person every time isn’t teamwork. That’s enabling.
Doing production in the local church is a team sport. Even though it sometimes feels like a solo sport of defense. We can’t do it with our own needs always being the most important. We can’t do it without the consideration of the needs of the band and the needs of the pastor and the needs of the other artists involved.
Production with blinders is not any way to live. Look around you. What’s happening? Who’s with you? What is God doing in those around you?
Production in the local church is a team sport. Learn to pull together.