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Before we dive in, I want to clarify two things. First, practice is not rehearsal, and rehearsal is not practice. They are different and we need to know how and why.

Practice is personal. It?s done away from the times you?re with a band or group of other musicians or singers. It?s those times we set aside to hone our crafts and strengthen our ?chops?. To me, it?s much like our personal devotion times with the Lord. If your devotional life was only done in public and in a place where you wanted to be seen, I would push back and question the depth of your faith. It?s like the athlete who competes in the Olympic games. They didn’t get to that place by only competing against others in the public eye. They got to that place by intense, often painful hours, of practice and development. A great thought on this is Malcolm Gladwell?s Outliers and the rule of 10,000 hours.[quote]Practice is personal. It?s done away from the times you?re with a band.[/quote]

Let?s quickly talk about rehearsal. This is what we do when we gather as a team. It?s putting together all of the pieces of our personal practice times. If we?ve all been given a piece to a puzzle, we must come together to see how that piece contributes to the puzzle as a finished picture. This process needs a good leader ? someone who knows music and knows it from a 30,000? view. For us, it?s either our weekly worship leader or music director. It changes depending on who?s scheduled. This person should have a good grasp of all the pieces in general and be able to communicate to the group well.

In Matthew 25:14-15, we see the parable of the talents. We have all been given different measures of talents. But no matter the level or depth of those talents, they are gifts we?ve been entrusted with.

These gifts are precious and I believe designed uniquely for each person. We know that our Father gives good gifts (Matt 7:11). But I also believe that with these gifts comes an expectation to nurture and growth them ? to see them to their fullest potential. This is called stewardship.

Are you stewarding the gift you?ve been given as a musician or vocalist? Are you being responsible for what the Lord has entrusted to you? Like the story in Matthew 25, those who fail to do anything useful with the resources, talents, gifts, and opportunities God has given them will fall under his displeasure. I believe how we respond to the gifts we?ve been given shows our faithfulness to Christ. Leaders, are we encouraging our teams to practice? Are we providing the support and encouragement to do so? Are we giving our teams something worth practicing for?[quote]Are we giving our teams something worth practicing for?[/quote]

To me, within the context of serving the church with these musical gifts, it often comes down to vision and buy-in. And as the leader of my team, I must be confident in the vision I believe the Lord has given me and our church in regards to our worship times. If that?s not clear to me, it more than likely won?t be clear to my team. If they don?t see this replicated in me, I doubt they?ll get to that place themselves. And without buy-in and trust, I am doubtful that anyone on my team will be overly committed to working behind the scenes in their personal practice time toward any goal or vision. You can preach practice until you?re blue in the face, but it probably won?t make a difference if people haven?t bought in.

One final note, though. If you, as the leader, have cast a clear vision, have set clear expectations, and have built that trust, you ultimately aren?t responsible for their lack of stewardship with their gifts. You can lead the horse to water, but you can?t make it drink. And if your horse isn?t drinking, it might be time to find another horse.

Pastor, leader, church volunteer, and musician, I would ask that you take a step back and really ask yourself if you?re stewarding the gifts and talents the Lord has given you. This is not me trying to shame or guilt you at all, but instead to help us see that what the Lord has given to us as gifts should be stewarded well.

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