Saturday, September 14, 2013

The Courage to Sing

Tomorrow it is what is known as "Rally Sunday" in our congregation.  It's not in the liturgical calendar, but it's a sort of "unveil-the-education-year" and "have-a-party" sort of day, particularly in our denomination.

For part of the "party" tomorrow, we will have a dunk tank.  The Senior Pastor is one of the people who will sit in the dunk tank.  I am not going to sit in the dunk tank.  There is something about a dunk tank that makes my inner shy person kick in.

A couple of people tried to tease me into doing it, and part of me wonders why I am so reticent.  The Senior Pastor is really looking forward to it.  I have always called myself 'courage-impaired'; perhaps that is it.  I don't downhill ski, hang-glide or jump out of airplanes.  I have been on roller coasters, but they are not my favorite thing.  I have a not-so-irrational fear of falling down, as I actually have fallen down a lot.  So, perhaps, 'courage-impaired' is the right diagnosis.

This is not a good trait for a pastor, because it takes courage to lead.  It takes courage to tell the truth, make a decision, put yourself out there, set a course of action.  It is not good for a pastor to be 'courage-impaired.'

However, I do sing.

I chant the liturgy, when called upon, and I sing sometimes in nursing homes, and at gravesides.  I will sing a snatch or two in the pulpit, on occasion.  One summer I ran a summer program for children in a local church.  Every day I led a time of singing.   A capella.    I didn't think about it at the time, but it occurs to me that this was a courageous act.  Why I would rather lead a bunch of 2nd graders in a capella singing than sit in a dunk tank is beyond me.

I do not have an incredible voice, although I did take some piano lessons, and I sang in the choir some, too.  But not everyone who sings in a choir is willing to stick their voice out, solo.  It takes courage.

I have always thought of courage as an innate trait.  You are either courageous or you are not.  But maybe, just maybe, I am wrong.  Courage is not innate.  I learned a little about singing:  how to breathe, the sound of some notes, a few tunes (okay, actually a lot of tunes).

Courage has something to do with trust, it turns out.  You open your mouth, and you trust that the notes will come out.  You trust the lilt of the tune, the meaning of the words.  You open your mouth and you trust that people will sing along when you invite them.  And that even if it is wrong, it will be all right, in the end.

Leadership and singing have something in common, too:  You have to put your voice out there, sing a line, and ask people to follow you.  It's good to learn a few tunes, so you can know the moves, and have an idea where the song will go.  And sometimes the people follow you, and sometimes the people sing with you, a song you have all learned to sing together.

As it turns out, leaders are not the only ones who have to have courage.  And trust.

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