May I Never Boast Except in the Cross

In a previous post, I talked about how we must be humble about our successes and talents in the ministry because these are gifts God gives to us, and not of our own efforts. Many of us are church musicians, a very visible service platform, and it is easy to become self-serving and proud. We might boast of being able to play a difficult guitar solo, or being able to come up with a variation of a song, for example.

In other words, we might be tempted to boast because of the external, that is, what we play and how we present ourselves on stage. The Galatians faced a similar issue, because many were being compelled to be circumcised to give a good outward impression: "Those who want to make a good impression outwardly are trying to compel you to be circumcised...they want you to be circumcised that they may boast about your flesh. " (Gal 6:12, 13b). Thus, we may be tempted kneel on stage, jump around, play the best parts we have, not because we want to worship, but to "boast about your flesh". This is definitely unacceptable.

Rather, we should boast not about ourselves, but about God. We boast by bearing testimony about how God has changed our lives, about Jesus' work on the cross, and so forth. This is because in the same paragraph, Paul writes: "May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is a new creation" (Gal 6: 14-15).

Therefore, do not show off, do not try to impress with your instruments and talents. Boast about God instead!

Lastly, here are some actions that I feel arise from a wrong attitude. You can use this as a checklist to check your own heart, or if you are a leader in your ministry, to watch out for wrong attitudes. It definitely isn't exhaustive, or 100% correct, but its a place to start and to think about:

- Playing alot during the quiet parts, which are meant to be anchored by the keys/acoustic. The musician might play too many fills, playing too loudly, or using too much distortion. This is especially distracting for the congregation as well, and puts the spotlight on an individual, rather than God.

- Using a sound that is too large and too sharp. While you need a sound that can cut-through, do not let this be an excuse for overwhelming all the other instruments, and putting attention on yourself.

Here's a rather exaggerated example of the first two points:

- Not paying attention during the sermon. The musician that for example goes out for a 30min coffee break during sermon may not be interested at all in the service, in God's word, but is just there to play his or her instrument.

Leave a comment in if you can think of more actions!


Sam said...

thanks a lot for that. great reminder for myself

andy said...

great post dude...good reminders..

haha, was laughing the entire duration of the video

Nate said...

YES THANK YOU VERY MUCH! This is so encouraging for me wanting to go in ministry whilst me loving worship (but can't play any instrument)

Music can cultivate a heart, but preaching from God's word will open it for what can be done to the heart. We were all saved by God's word, and by God's word is how we get much inspiration for these songs we love so much...

NEVER TAKE THIS FOR GRANTED, there may be something you need to hear in that sermon that will help you out...ALWAYS LET YOUR HEART BE OPEN TO GOD'S WORD BE PROCLAIMED

J said...

The other actions are maybe shredding during the song.. for example "Jump Around" A fast song but ppl can turn it into something very heavy.. Making it sounds like G3 Jam kinda stuff.

Anonymous said...

I do agree with you on everything you said but I think that was a bad example with that video. YES the first part was very loud but I believe sometimes there is nothing wrong with that kind of playing. The second part of that video where you said was good playing was to quite and not domanite enough. The guitar was blending to much with the other instruments. This is just my opinion.

kenny said...

Thanks for your input. Music is a very subjective thing; for example some of the older folks feel that Christian music today is too noisy, and prefer hymns.

Generally, the aim of the post is not to talk about what constitutes domineering or non-domineering styles, but to talk about the right spirit we need to adopt, that God must be placed at the forefront of our music, and not ourselves.

For example, I don't think is right if we play something that gets the congregation to focus on the musician, rather than on worshiping God, and I think its better to err on the soft side for this.

Cwisfa said...

I agree with Kenny on this one-

Although it would be good in a praise song - the 'blurting', piercing sound of the guitar just overrides any sort of worshippy or praising feeling others may have for the lord and kills the atmosphere. It's good in other songs - but as you said, he follows the melody - and in this case, solemn but still noticeable is the key - as we are not the ones important - as is our God; the main topic of this post.

Video nearly made me cry in laughter.

Keep up these topics Kenny.


Anonymous said...

Hmm..thanks for the article. 1st & 2nd pt are very obvious to sum of my youth ppl playing. As an acoustic player, I guess I should kp it low at times, depending on the song~ :)

Matt said...

Regarding the leaving for coffee breaks - be careful not to jump to conclusions about your band. When I first came to my church, I thought the band members had poor character because I always saw them leaving during the sermon. Then I joined the band and learned that at our church the same band has to play at multiple identical worship services! Conclusion - they do care about the sermon, just not enough to hear the same sermon multiple times in a row.