Sunday, June 16, 2013

Lead With the Heart

I feel very ill qualified to discuss a topic in which so many consider me exceedingly well qualified.  It causes me to stammer and shrug a bit when people compliment me on the work I have done for some years as a chorister in the womens' class at my church, because in truth, I have very little personal talent in that capacity.  Those who attend that class frequently tell me that my work is profound and even miraculous and I write this post only because I feel impressed so to do and because so many women ask how in the world I accomplish what I do.  My answer is invariably "It's not me."

My duty as chorister is to decide which opening and closing hymns the women sing when we meet together on Sunday in our women's class and then lead the music during the meeting.  Often the lesson is based on a lecture or sermon of a Mormon prophet or apostle, and we use that as a base to our discussion.  The music, as the women are kind and generous enough to tell me, tends to strike to the heart of the matter at hand.  At one point, my superior gave me the lesson and in choosing music I felt to chose hymns that had nothing to do at all with the subject before me.  Though perplexed, I obeyed the impression and when the meeting opened I found that the lessons had been confused and the teacher had prepared a lesson I had not read.  The music I had chosen was perfect for the lesson the teacher taught.  That ought to be the first sign that this is not my work or my genius.

So what does Michelle do when she chooses music?  Well firstly, I study the lesson, but not in the manner one might expect.  I do not read to discover the words of the lesson.  I read to understand in the heart the overall purpose.  The sermon's title may pertain to service but in feeling the lesson out and reading between the lines, I find that the greater lesson and continuing theme behind the words may be to follow the Savior's example.  So I throw out almost entirely the idea of service, focus only on the larger idea that the sermon is trying to convey and turn my musical search in that direction.  If I were to try to choose music by thinking analytically and drawing attention to every word of the scripture the result would be weak and unsatisfying for all involved.  It is when I close my mind, read with my heart and then match the emotion of that lesson to the emotion of the song that things seem miraculous.  And recognizing that this is not my doctrine, not my lesson, not my hymns, not my meeting and these women are daughters of God and not my audience I always put the matter to prayer.  I pray before I read, during my reading, as I choose music and afterward to ensure that the music chosen is what the Lord would have at the meeting.  If I feel uneasy about something I pray about it more or change it.  Only when my heart is calm on the matter do I submit the choice to those in charge.  It used to be fairly an epidemic that the teachers would forget the time, run overtime and we would have to forgo the closing hymn.  Those in charge of the meeting would attempt to apologize to me, as though it had anything to do with me at all.  They always found me smiling and shrugging it off, because the purpose is not first and foremost to lead music.  The purpose of the meeting is to uplift the women of the congregation.  If a prolonged discussion serves that cause better, then so be it.  The purpose is fulfilled better than had we employed the final hymn and cut the discussion short.   God is ever and always at the helm, and when I am weak, then am I strong.

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