Just the Band Guy
by Paul Baloche
“I’m just a band guy”. That was my attitude when I volunteered to play on the worship team at my church almost twenty years ago. I wasn’t really interested in being up front, charged with the responsibility to talk to the congregation let alone “lead” them in some way. That all seemed pretty intimidating, and quite frankly- a hassle. Yeah, that’s right, dealing with people can be a hassle. And so I was content to show up with my guitar rig and dutifully play the appropriate parts behind our Pastor who artfully encouraged worship from the platform.
That all changed the Sunday morning that my Pastor turned to me and said over the microphone so that everyone could hear, “Paul, would you come and lead us in a few songs while I pray with folks at the foot of the stage.” Yikes!! Everything in me was like “Nooooo Waaaaay” but I pretended to be OK with it as I nodded yes nervously approached the mic. I wanted to declare out loud, “I’m just a band guy thank you very much” but it was too late. I was being pulled from the sidelines to front and center, where all eyes stared back at me with profound expectation. I think I screamed a desperate prayer under my breath like, “O God, don’t let me stink and bore people to death.”
That all seems a little silly now but at the time it was fear incarnate.
Down the Road
As weeks turned into months and months into years I began to grow in my love and concern for the people that I served each Sunday. Instead of fearing their disapproval or rejection of me, I began to realize how important our corporate gatherings were to the spiritual health of our congregation. As I became more aware of the different challenges and trials that so many of our members were facing, I began praying and asking God to give me His heart for the people I served. I prayed for wisdom and insight as to how our team could help strengthen our folks not only on Sunday mornings but also throughout the week. I became less preoccupied with striving for a flawless set list and more focused on how we could build up and encourage others through music, prayers, and scripture.
The perception of my role went from band guy to worship leader to “lead worshipper” to finally Worship Pastor. I started to experience a shift, in thinking of myself as a Pastor who utilizes music as the primary vehicle in helping others worship and connect with God. Previously, I saw myself as a musician first, who “should probably get more involved in the leadership of the church”.
The church needs leaders. It’s easy for us to sit back and let someone else do it. It’s easy to analyze and criticize the decisions that our Elders or Pastors make. But I learned very quickly how difficult it is to wrestle through the endless array of problems when I stepped up to be an Elder myself. Wow! What a revelation it was.
Since then I have gained such an appreciation for those who are willing to sacrifice hours and hours for the sake of the local church. Everything from the most difficult personal issues of church members to the mundane minutia of buildings and budgets. So many times we want to walk away and leave it for someone else to figure it out, while we sanctimoniously sip our Starbucks from the sidelines and cynically point out the flaws and inconsistencies
Joni Mitchell sings, “I’ve looked at life from both sides now”. Too many times I played the blame game but I’ve also felt the sting of judgment from the professional complainers. No matter. Jesus said to Peter, “Do you love me? Feed my sheep.” There is the command for us to love, nurture, and feed the people of God- To lay down our lives for the sake of the call. Except thankfully for most of us, these days “laying down our lives” means putting up with the inconveniences of people and leadership, as opposed to being martyred or burned at the stake. Jesus also revealed that too often “the laborers are few”.
I urge you to consider if you have been resisting the tug of personal leadership and opting for an easier path. The path of showing up, punching the ministry clock, and then checking out with very little emotional investment or commitment to church relationships.
I am heartened by people like Glenn Packiam, Lincoln Brewster, Vicky Beeching, and Laura Story who not only write and perform skillfully but have also embraced the call to provide Pastoral leadership in their local church.