During my ministry God has given me the gracious opportunity to sing from some of the great pulpits of influence in the Independent, Baptist world. Each and every time I mount any pulpit, great or small in the eyes of man, to put God’s message to music I have attempted to approach it with a holy reverence and the preparation befitting my opportunity.
On May the 8th, 1999, God called me to be a preacher of the gospel of Jesus Christ. From that time to this day, I have either been called a “Singing Preacher” or a “Preaching Singer!” Both are favorable gifts from above!
During the time of my calling, I was given a story by an ordained uncle, who at the time was a lay preacher, that has been filed away in my heart from that day to this one. He told me that when he is asked to preach, he said in his heart, “It is not always my turn to preach, but when God gives me my turn, I enjoy the opportunity and make the most of it for Jesus Christ.”
Accordingly, it is not always my time to preach, but thus far, the Lord Jesus has given me great opportunities to sing for His glory. As I approach the conference or revival pulpit, I have in my heart that this opportunity is no less significant than the one moments away for the preacher, and I must seize the opportunity for the Lord Jesus Christ.
Here are a few tips for church soloists looking to make the most of their talent in the economy of our stewardship:
1. Approach the pulpit reverently
Few things frustrate me more than flippant behavior behind the pulpit. I would rather a soloist stand off to the side than that I should give them the opportunity to trivialize the designated square footage of platform that houses the sacred desk. Such behavior is seen in how one dresses, talks and carries themselves.
Again, that pulpit is the most sacred spot in the sanctuary. From it sounds forth the preaching of the cross of Calvary, the horrors of Hell, the substance of sin, the design of the home, and the full counsel of God. May our behavior not confuse the congregation concerning the seriousness of truly spiritual happenings.
2. Approach the pulpit powerfully
Q- To whom is given the filling of the Holy Spirit?
A- ALL BELIEVERS!
Many years ago I was acquainted with a soloist who sang like a beautiful bird, but their face was cast in bronze and hardened. You wanted to rejoice with them. You wanted to smile at them. You wanted to believe what they were singing, but their face suggested that they had a tune but no song.
When asked to sing, my work is preparatory to the message of God’s Word. My work is to promote the beauty of the Christian life, the healing of the Scriptures, and the comfort of the Comforter. How many times even in my own pastorate has my sermon had “some” effect (by the way, the true impact of a sermon will only be seen in Heaven and at the judgment seat) but the special song had “great” impact. God has allowed me to sing a song with a message that was the true message of the hour.
As I approach a meeting I do not know the spiritual needs of my congregation; neither the special musician nor the preacher knows it all, but there is a God in Heaven whose power works in us! If we would but humble ourselves and pray, approaching the pulpit with the touch of Heaven on it, oh, how Heaven would be enlarged and hearts sweetened by Spirit-filled and Holy Ghost-enabled soloists!
3. Approach the pulpit Preparedly
“Pray for us, we didn’t have time to practice!”
We have all heard that, and what was to follow was normally a dirge, dribble and distraction to the beauty of God and the preparation of the hour. I do not want to be a “pot hole” along the way. Lack of preparation can ruin the spirit of a meeting. It can offer icy, cold water to a service flaming with power.
As I said earlier, prepare your heart. Be clean and right with God. Confess sin and claim the power of God upon your life. Claim as your birthright that power. Did not the older brother say to his father, “Thou never gavest me,” to which the Father replied, “Son, thou art ever with me, and ALL THAT I HAVE IS THINE!” Pray for power!
Then, prepare your song.
I’ve heard it said that song-selection is 75% of singing. Know who you are in Christ (i.e. your abilities, musical limitations, convictions concerning music) and where you are. Some songs are great, but they do not work everywhere. There are songs fit for revivals that are not fit for the solemnity of the Sunday morning pulpit. There are songs fit for prophecy conferences, marriage and home meetings and mid-week services.
As I travel, I often gauge the spirit of a church and attune myself to all I can before I sing. Within the range of what is traditional, Christ-honoring and Spirit-filled, I want to be appropriate to the hour.
The longer I live the more I appreciate my life and God’s leadership in it. I grew up in a country church were the “Church Hymnal ” was nigh unto sacred writ. God then led me to Earl Holloway where a giant window into Christ-honoring music was opened to me. I had never heard of an octavo, an anthem or a classically-styled spiritual song, but I have learned to love them all. When someone begins to criticize traditional music, I am afraid their carnal nature has led them to disobedience and delusion, thinking narrowly of the highway of holy music. There are thousands of wonderful, Spirit-filled songs that are appropriate!
God has allowed me to sing in large meetings where big anthems ring the bell, yet I’ve sung in the hills and mountains where, “In the Garden” or “I’ll Fly Away” sets the believer’s heart aright with God. Let us never become too big or too small to be acceptable! That is the work of the fruit of the Spirit in us, to make us approved always unto God and appropriate before men.
By God’s grace, let us never dip our colors and lower our flag to appease a compromising crowd but to love like-hearted brethren, and as much as possible be all things to all men. That work, however, takes years of God-ordained preparation in our lives.
So, your name is on the schedule to sing this Sunday? Before you mount the steps to the platform, remember to be reverent, right with God and appropriate to the hour. May God use you, and may you sing dripping with that anointing oil that the pastor even today is claiming as his right in preaching the blessed book.