The difference between musical performance and music ministry is in the heart of the musician.
There’s a fine line between musical performance and music ministry, and as a long-time cantor I can honestly say that it isn’t always easy for music ministers to know when they’ve crossed the line from serving God to serving self. Here are a few guidelines that help me:
- Performance is concerned with a quality product, while ministry is concerned with a holy process.
- Performance seeks to be successful, while ministry seeks to be faithful.
- Performance strives to shine like the sun, while ministry strives to lead others to the son.
- Performance draws attention to the performer, while ministry draws attention toward God.
- Performance is out front to be seen, while ministry is out front to lead.
- Performance entertains, while ministry prays.
- Performance is for an audience, while ministry is with a community.
If you still aren’t sure, pay attention to what is going on in your mind as you approach the microphone. Do you pray: “Lord, use this instrument as you will to bring your word to your people”? Or do you pray: “Lord, help me to sound my best so I will impress people; grant that I make no mistakes and do not make a fool of myself?” When you make a mistake, what is the first thought that crosses your mind: “Did that make people think less of me?” Or: “Did that distract anyone from God’s message?”
Finally, how willing are you to hand the microphone to someone else, trusting that God may want this other musician to minister to you?