Last week I finished reading the book ‘As The Minstrel Playeth‘ by David J. Napier. I knew I would be blown away by this book, but I wasn’t expecting such a tremendous explosion of emotion. As I flipped through page after page, so many thoughts flooded my mind.
I have posted about how I have felt called to the Worship Arts for a few years now and after reading this book I know that the call is greater than ever. And it’s not a specific call just to me, but to all believers. There are many times in my Christian ‘infancy’ that I come across moments that are like ripping a band-aid off a fresh wound. One of those moments happened in the first few weeks of attending Living Word. I had always been told that ‘Music is from the Devil!’ And, ‘If you keep playing that Devil music you’ll go straight to HELL!’ But then I learned that we were created to praise God. That if we don’t do it, the earth will! (Luke 19:40) There was a song that we sang at LWFC:
“I was created to make Your praise glorious!”
This song was so freeing! Once I really grabbed hold of that, I felt a HUGE burden being lifted from my heart. I was finally able to… do what I was created to do. The only thing I can liken the experience to, is being under water… for years! You know the feeling when you’re almost to the top of the water and you feel like your lungs are about to burst? It was like that first gasp of air – but it was my FIRST gasp of air. I remember being in the sanctuary during a Sunday night worship service. I can’t tell you what the song was, in fact, it may have been silent for all I know, but I know that something BIG happened to my heart that night. It was like I took my first breath after being suffocated all my life. I was laying on the floor sobbing. It was the moment that my prayers went from constantly apologizing to God for who I was in the past to thanking Him for who I was becoming. This moment that seemed like it took hours, was actually just a few brief moments and for the rest of worship that night, you could find me jumping and dancing and clapping my hands.
Sometimes, when I think of my walk with Christ, I picture God sitting around a group of old ladies with a scrap book. Here’s how the conversation would go…
God: Here’s when she lifted her hand. It was good.
Old Ladies: Awwww.
God: Oh! And this is the time she told a complete stranger about my Son.
Old Ladies: Oh, she’s just precious!
God: This is one of my favorites… This is the day that she got Baptized. I could barely contain myself. The next 12 pages are pictures of that moment.
Old Ladies: Awww! I could just squish her and kiss her face!
God: Here’s the day she finally started playing her guitar again. I gave her a special song to remember it by… I put it on repeat sometimes so she knows how much I love her.
Old Ladies: How lovely. You must really love her.
God: She’s one of my favorites. I have big plans for her.
Old Ladies: She’s a doll!
God: This is the weekend we spent camping at the beach. It was a great time.
Old Ladies: Look at that! That’s one of the best campfires I’ve ever seen!
God: She excels at burning stuff.
You get the point.
Knowing that we were created for greatness and actually grasping hold of the understanding are two completely different things. I had been told many times that God has a big plan for my life, but it wasn’t until I understood it that it really took root in me. There are days that I want to hide under the covers from my calling. “I’m too tired, God! Just 10 more minutes!” But once I get my flesh under control, I can’t imagine anything other than doing my calling.
So back to the book…
I wish I had this resource years ago when I first gave my life to Christ. There were many things in there that blew me away. I’ve read these scriptures before, but David was able to put things into an understandable context. A black and white, no hold’s barred punch in the gut.
This is what we were created to do, so do it.
I feel like I’m making him sound mean, but it’s not like that. It’s a gentle tap on the shoulder saying, “Hey, you’re doing it wrong, this is how God said we’re supposed to do that.”
Here’s another illustration…
Do you remember flannelgraph from Sunday School?
While reading this book, I kept seeing a flannelgraph. The church lady would put up the blue board and get out her little envelope of laminated people and away we would go into story land.
As Minstrels, we are called to usher the people in to a place of worship. We should know our instruments well enough that we can flow with the Holy Spirit.
I remember when I had first joined the worship team. I was new to playing the electric guitar and wasn’t quite comfortable with it. “How much different is an electric guitar from an acoustic one?” You’re saying, well… they’re different. You play them differently, hold them differently, etc.
The band was going toward a place of ‘awesomeness’ and I was so uncomfortable with this instrument that I just didn’t play. It was noticeable. It sounded lame. Where there should have been strumming, there was none. It was embarrassing. Not just because I “messed up,” but because I didn’t know my instrument well enough to play it.
It was shortly after that when Angela Courte came to minister on a Sunday night.
She asked all of the worship leaders, team members, etc, to stand, so I did. She had an awesome Word for us all to encourage us, and one thing she said has stuck SO hard that I have to share it.
Hone your skill and God will provide the anointing.” – Angela Courte
She went on to explain that she didn’t just wake up one day being able to play the piano and sing and minister all at the same time, it took hours and hours of practice. Playing and playing and playing… trial and error…
I carried that Word around with me with the mission that I WILL learn the electric guitar better so I can flow when the Holy Spirit leads us as a team. I know I’m not a guitar master by any means, but I went from barely knowing how to play a barred chord to knowing how to play them all without having to stare at my fret board. I still work on it, but it was these words that encouraged me to press on.
Before his book was released, David shared a quote from his book that really got me excited. He said,
The better you are at your craft, the clearer a channel the Holy Spirit has to move through your playing. Skill is a clean conduit. – David J. Napier
It was confirmation, for me anyways, that I needed to step it up in my worship. I had been using the same excuse for far too long. I can’t play, my hands hurt. I can’t play because I don’t have time. I can’t play because I don’t want to. I can’t play because I’m discouraged. It was mostly the last one.
So here’s what I did. I started implementing ‘Worship Time.’ Which is different than just playing. Here’s how it goes down…
1. Get out giant worship binder.
2. Flip through it to find a couple songs.
3. Get situated. Guitar, picks, water, etc.
Repeat steps 4-6
I set aside at least 10 minutes a day to do this. You may think that 10 minutes isn’t much time, but it is when you’ve overdone it in the past and messed up your hands from playing too much.
Not being able to play the guitar for such a long time was a very dark time for me. Not really depression, more like a season of ‘being lame.’
These words have become many so I will wrap it up.
As The Minstrel Playeth: Discovering the Power of Music should be the quick resource for every worship leader. It is an accumulation of all of the questions that anyone with the calling to music ministry will ever have. I am truly honored to say, “Hey, I know that guy!” in reference to Sir. David J. Napier. Knowing someone and knowing their heart are two completely different things and now that I have read this book, I can say I truly know his heart toward worship arts.