Recently, during worship, I interrupted the director just as she was about to lead the choir. “Excuse me. I’m sorry to interrupt but do you mind if I take over?”

She gave me a strange look but cautiously replied, “No, not at all. You are the pastor.”

I said to the choir: “I’ve always wanted to direct a choir so today I’m going to do it. Will you help me?”

You could hear mumbling as first one then another choir member replied, “Sure… okay.”

My hands went up just as I saw the director do so many times before. “Are you ready?”

“Wait,” a voice from the choir shouted interrupting my directorial debut. “What are we singing?”

1. To be an effective choir director, it helps to know what you are going to sing.

“Oh, that’s a good question.” I replied but already beginning to lose my confidence. Maybe this job wasn’t so easy after all. “Let’s do something familiar and Christmassy. We can sing, “Joy to the World!”

The murmurings among the choir began again but stopped as soon as I raised my hands high. With a flourish I began the rhythmic side to side motions I watched so many directors’ use. I was confident my inspired leadership combined with the solid voices of our talented choir, would create the finest performance of “Joy to the World!” ever rendered but alas, I was so wrong!

What really happened was an explosion of noise, off key singing, and unrecognizable words. Some choir members were singing loud, some soft. Others seemed to be singing a different song. “Stop! Stop!” I screamed. “What are you singing?” I soon found out.

“I’m singing from the hymnal,” said one choir member.

“I’m singing from an arrangement I brought from home.” 

“I decided to start with verse two.”

“My words are in Spanish!”

“Wait! What song are we singing?”

2. To be an effective choir director, you should lead from the same music setting.

At this point, I didn’t think it could get any worse but I was wrong again. An argument broke out. One choir member said: “Larry, This song calls for a soloist and I will gladly volunteer my voice.”

“Now, wait a minute. I’m the one that sings the solos here. I’ve been doing so for thirty years.”

“It’s been twenty years too long if you ask me.”

“Why does Dan always have to play the organ? I want to play the organ.”

“Wait! What song are we singing?”

3. To be an effective choir director, you combine compassion with clear communication.

At this point, choir members were arguing, the congregation was mumbling and I was bewildered. “What’s wrong with our choir?” I wondered.

Actually, the problem was not with the choir but with me. I was about to receive a lesson on spiritual leadership courtesy of God and the real choir director.

Next week: “Leadership and the Choir” Part 2