Dealing with people is one of the primary facets of a Choir Director’s job. And it also can be one of the most frustrating. Take “The Expert” for example: you encounter them in every walk of life – but they seem especially spurred on by the emotional high that singing in a choir produces. Something about that energy and that corporate striving for excellence pushes them forward and gives them whatever fuel they need to make themselves a real thorn in the leader’s side! I’ve seen these types in lots of endeavors – churches, bible studies, theater groups, sports teams – but for some reason, they just love to exercise their “gift” in choirs. Who are these folks that we’re commanded to love, in spite of the way we might sometimes feel? They’re the “experts”. No, not the real experts in the field – rather, they’re self-appointed “experts”.
In choirs, they can hear sounds that NO ONE else can hear! They can detect if the choir is singing .005 cents off the pitch! They hear the one person out of a hundred that’s missing the note. Never mind that 99 are singing the right note and no one in the audience could possibly hear that one errant voice – oh no, they have to point that person out to you. They know exactly how every style of music should be performed – from Rutter to Redman – and are more than willing (no, actually they’re compelled by their not-so-inner-expert) to share their vast knowledge and insight with YOU! (Aren’t you lucky!) All this free advice is supposedly given to better the performance of the music. Actually, though, it’s done in an effort to “prove” themselves in some way at your expense. They come away feeling superior because of their ability to discern minutia (that absolutely NO ONE cares about in the least!).
So how do we handle these self-described experts? Well, I’m sometimes tempted to come back at them with a detailed explanation of some obscure musical phenomenon that explains why their comment can be dismissed, but I rarely indulge that lesser side of me. I’d like to say I’ve never retorted with anything like that . . . but then I’d have to repent for lying. So suffice it to say, that I can usually hold my tongue. I’ve learned over the years to let patience prevail and kindly thank them for their input – and then “eat the meat and spit out the bones”. And usually, there are a LOT of bones to be discarded in what they have to say.
Bottom line: Scripture says “The poor you have with you always” (Matthew 26:11). And somehow, I think that can mean poor in ways other than financial – poor in judgement, poor in communication, poor in personal relationships, poor in common sense, etc. As believers, we have to look above and beyond those that frustrate us and keep our focus on Christ and doing His will – even if that means loving those “experts” that would seem to “lord it over us” by their words and attitudes.
My Prayer: “Help me, Lord, to see the good in those you place along my path and not be upset or discouraged by those whose ways or habits absolutely drive me nuts.”
Joyfully serving Him,
Director of Music and Ministries