First Christian Reformed Church

To Tell the Truth…or Not

Music has been always been a big part of my life. Both my mom and dad were highly trained and accomplished musicians who were committed to use their gifts to give glory to God. For 45 years my dad served as Director of Worship and Music Ministries at our church which of course hugely impacted my musical formation. One of the many legacies my dad left behind was his dedication to excellence in worship and music.

It was his mission to see musicians flourish in the use of their musical talents. God deserved their very best. Vocalists both acclaimed and aspiring from all over the world would come to him for instruction and inspiration. You can imagine the rich culture of worship and music we enjoyed in our church.

On many occasions my dad would include his students in the worship services which provided for some amazing musical memories. Well…sometimes. Not only was my dad in pursuit of excellence, he was also very patient. Too patient perhaps. Students who weren’t quite ready or perhaps never would be, were still given a chance to perform. This led to some pretty awkward moments in church history. The problem here of course was not my dad giving the developing talent an opportunity to grow.  We all need these opportunities to grow in our gifts and talents. No, the problem here was what to say when after a painful performance the singer without any real singing potential, would ask you, with a hopeful smile, what you thought of the song or piece. Do you lie and tell them it was beautiful, get their hopes up and risk a repeat, or do you tell them the truth, hurt their feelings and ruin any possible meaningful relationship because of the offensive reality.

It took us a few years to fine tune, but the following list is the result of many dinner conversations (and real life experiences) with my family about the challenges of truth telling in a music ministry. This list is a collection of phrases and responses that have shown to be invaluable situations where you feel you can’t say the truth or anything for that matter, but also don’t want to lie.

So…what did you think of my performance?

10.           Your mother must be proud.

9.             Wow! I have never heard anything like it!

8.             I didn’t think music like that was possible.

7.             Our music ministry is what it is because of people like you.

6.             You have such a unique gift.

5.             It must take incredible dedication to sing like that.

4.             Have you ever thought of taking your music on the road?

3.             I’ve never heard it sung quite that way. That was a fascinating arrangement.

2.             I hope they made a recording; I can’t wait to send it to my brother.

And my personal favorite:

1.             Thank you! That used to be my favorite song!

Although a somewhat playful list, the need for such a list reveals a deeper lying issue. We have a hard time telling the truth (especially in love) when that truth might be offensive or unwanted. We don’t want to tell our kids they can’t be anything they want to be. We could really do without commenting on the neighbor’s new hairdo. We want to encourage and be gentle. We avoid these moments of conflict of interest with silly responses of trivial encouragement and say they are trendsetters. Do we do the same with the Good News of Jesus? Do we share God’s word, our testimonies and convictions in a similar fashion? Are we afraid to say what really matters?

Paul Blackmon

One of the many legacies my dad left behind was his dedication to excellence in worship and music. It was his mission to see musicians flourish in the use of their musical talents. God deserved their very best. Vocalists both acclaimed and aspiring from all over the world would come to him for instruction and inspiration. You can imagine the rich culture of worship and music we enjoyed in our church.

 

On many occasions my dad would include his students in the worship services which provided for some amazing musical memories. Well…sometimes. Not only was my dad in pursuit of excellence, he was also very patient. Too patient perhaps. Students who weren’t quite ready or perhaps never would be, were still given a chance to perform. This led to some pretty awkward moments in church history. The problem here of course was not my dad giving the developing talent an opportunity to grow.  We all need these opportunities to grow in our gifts and talents. No, the problem here was what to say when after a painful performance the singer without any real singing potential, would ask you, with a hopeful smile, what you thought of the song or piece. Do you lie and tell them it was beautiful, get their hopes up and risk a repeat, or do you tell them the truth, hurt their feelings and ruin any possible meaningful relationship because of the offensive reality.

It took us a few years to fine tune, but the following list is the result of many dinner conversations (and real life experiences) with my family about the challenges of truth telling in a music ministry. This list is a collection of phrases and responses that have shown to be invaluable situations where you feel you can’t say the truth or anything for that matter, but also don’t want to lie.

So…what did you think of my performance?

10.           Your mother must be proud.

9.             Wow! I have never heard anything like it!

8.             I didn’t think music like that was possible.

7.             Our music ministry is what it is because of people like you.

6.             You have such a unique gift.

5.             It must take incredible dedication to sing like that.

4.             Have you ever thought of taking your music on the road?

3.             I’ve never heard it sung quite that way. That was a fascinating arrangement.

2.             I hope they made a recording; I can’t wait to send it to my brother.

And my personal favorite:

1.             Thank you! That used to be my favorite song!

Although a somewhat playful list, the need for such a list reveals a deeper lying issue. We have a hard time telling the truth (especially in love) when that truth might be offensive or unwanted. We don’t want to tell our kids they can’t be anything they want to be. We could really do without commenting on the neighbor’s new hairdo. We want to encourage and be gentle. We avoid these moments of conflict of interest with silly responses of trivial encouragement and say they are trendsetters. Do we do the same with the Good News of Jesus? Do we share God’s word, our testimonies and convictions in a similar fashion? Are we afraid to say what really matters?

Paul Blackmon

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