A Leader of Leaders – Dr. Roger Breland

BrelandI saw my long-time friend, Dr. Roger Breland, at the University of Mobile last week while recording my new album, When He Comes, at their new state-of-the-art Studio 8Eighty. Dr. Breland is a legend in Christian music for creating and managing the group Truth for many years. He now heads up the Center for Performing Arts at UM and is building it into one of the premiere worship and music business programs in the world.

Dr. Breland is the consummate blend of leader, mentor, visionary, and educator. He is a true leader of leaders. His story is told on UM’s Faculty page in this way:

“In the year 2000 Dr. Breland was elected to the Gospel Music Hall of Fame. He traveled 3 million miles and recorded 60 albums with TRUTH. TRUTH presented 10,000 concerts in 26 nations in 31 years. He travels extensively throughout the United States and internationally as a workshop clinician and speaker. His Excellence on the Platform topic is in great demand. Many of his former TRUTH members are successful leaders in Christian music. Kim Noblitt, Russ Lee, Alicia, Avalon, 4HIM, Jason Breland, Anthony Evans are examples of his influence. Dr. Breland is the author of the book, IN SEARCH OF A LOVELY MOMENT. In May of 2003 Dr. Breland became the Director of the Center for Performing Arts at the University of Mobile. Presently the CPA has 15 performing ensembles and has presented concerts to SRO audiences in local churches, conventions, The White House and Europe.”

It is a privilege to know Dr. Breland and to have worked with him during my years at Integrity Music.

ChizBESTJohn Chisum is an internationally appreciated worship leader, songwriter, mentor, and clinician. Click here for information on The Worship Leader’s One-on-One Coaching with John Chisum. For information about booking John for a worship seminar, worship concert, or special event, contact him directly at john@johnchisum.org, or call 251-533-5960.

 

Courage to Lead in Spite of Adversity

cowardly lion“In business and personal life, to create true integrity and lasting effectiveness you need to develop the courage to move towards the sound of the gunfire.” — Dr. Martin Groder

Cartoonist Roy Delgado once depicted Kansas ex-pat and ruby-slippered Dorothy saying to her Oz-bound compadres the Tin Man, the Cowardly Lion, and Scarecrow, “With no courage, no heart, or no brain… there’s no doubt you’ll eventually be approached to run for Congress!” As funny (and perhaps as true) as her optimistic outburst was in this cartoon, there’s no such thing as great leadership without courage, especially in adverse circumstances.

It’s easy to mistake manipulation for leadership. Businesses, corporations, and even churches can find themselves following leaders who might bring short-term results while sacrificing the character that results in longevity and brand allegiance. The CEO who burns through employees in the name of profit or the pastor who chews through congregations in the name of “kingdom building” can be one and the same. When things aren’t going well any of us can fall back into a competitive mindset that is far too willing to sacrifice character, integrity, and the true courage to lead by doing what is right over doing the right things (Myatt, 2012).

Mike Myatt said, “Courage is a trait possessed by all great leaders. So much so, that leadership absent courage is nothing short of a farce. Let me be very clear – I’m not advocating for bravado, arrogance, or an overabundance of hubris, but rather the courage necessary to stay the course…Many leaders think they have courage – few actually do.”  http://www.forbes.com/sites/mikemyatt/2012/09/19/every-great-leader-has-this-quality-do-you/

True leadership, something beyond mere results, is a matter of character and integrity. True courage in leading others means we will move toward the fray, not away from it.

ChizBESTJohn Chisum is an internationally appreciated worship leader, songwriter, mentor, and clinician. Click here for information on The Worship Leader’s One-on-One Coaching with John Chisum. For information about booking John for a worship seminar, worship concert, or special event, contact him directly at john@johnchisum.org, or call 251-533-5960.

 

Love God. Do art. Lead well.

Meredith Andrews of Vertical Music at re:Create 2015

Meredith Andrews of Vertical Music at re:Create 2015

“The more you’re like yourself, the less you’re like anyone else, which makes you unique.” Walt Disney

I’ve just spent the week with some of the most creative people I’ve ever met. It was a room filled with songwriters, authors, poets, and ideation experts. The atmosphere was buzzing every day with innovation, ideas, and that intangible “X” factor we call creativity. I was home.

Our theme for the re:Create2015 Conference, hosted by uber-creative Randy Elrod, was about having the courage to be who you are, not what you do. This theme wasn’t wasted on me. At a time in my own life in which I’m rediscovering who I am in fresh ways, each session seemed tailor-made to help me remember the nearly 40 years of creativity I’ve been part of in songwriting, publishing, ministry, and especially in helping others find their own creative voices.

I realize afresh today that leadership isn’t about me or us as leaders. It’s really about helping others find their value and their creative spark to be unique and make a difference. We make a difference by bringing out the best in others. For me, the big takeaway from the week is what I’m adopting as my new mantra: “Love God. Do art. Lead well.”

Thank you, Randy, and all the other great presenters at re:Create2015!

ChizBESTJohn Chisum is an internationally appreciated worship leader, songwriter, mentor, and clinician. Click here for information on The Worship Leader’s One-on-One Coaching with John Chisum. For information about booking John for a worship seminar, worship concert, or special event, contact him directly at john@johnchisum.org, or call 251-533-5960.

Keys to Better Leadership

bulletWhy is it that we all want a silver bullet to “great leadership” and yet miss all the little things that add up to really good leadership? Have we bought into a false concept of greatness thrust upon us by leadership gurus with lots of books and dvd’s to sell us? What ever happened to being a really good leader?

Cynicism aside, it just may be that the greatest leaders will never be recognized as such. The moms who mop up milk every day and the school principals who lead and protect their teachers and students while instilling small, but constant lessons in their children lay a foundation for leadership that could never be minimized.

If you’re like me, it’s easy to bog down between the dreaming and the coming true.

I’ve read dozens of leadership books, watched lots of leadership dvd’s, and attended many leadership conferences. It’s been hard for me to see the success of others without comparing myself to them and feeling that I will always fail to be as successful as they are. The gap between where I was and where they were seemed like the Grand Canyon. I felt that I could never do what they did. I would mentally shut down. It’s been a discipline I’ve had to exercise to not give up altogether.

As I look back over my years of leading others, I see that not one of those books, dvd’s, and experiences  changed my ability and effectiveness immediately. What I do see is that each one added something, however small, that helped me to become better. Maybe I didn’t become “great” in that split second, but I somehow got better. Better is a great step to becoming great. There’s no magic bullet. It’s a process.

So, today I choose to believe that the small steps I’m taking to become better will eventually add up to me becoming great. Maybe I’m just a good leader today, but I can put one foot in front of another, day by day. I can keep doing the things I know are right and good, keeping myself on the track towards greatness, and eventually, hopefully, get there.

ChizBESTJohn Chisum is an internationally appreciated worship leader, songwriter, mentor, and clinician. Click here for information on The Worship Leader’s One-on-One Coaching with John Chisum. For information about booking John for a worship seminar, worship concert, or special event, contact him directly at john@johnchisum.org, or call 251-533-5960.

Brushes with Greatness

Years ago, before cell phones, Donald Sutherland bumped me with his briefcase in the Atlanta
Sutherlandairport.

It happened like this. I was standing at the end of a long bank of pay phones. Younger people won’t appreciate that there once was a time when reasonable adults stood in a line against the wall in public places, shoving quarter after quarter in a tiny slot on a large box with a phone attached. It seems surreal to think that we ever really did it, but we did.

So, I’m standing at the payphone when I see someone walking toward me that I sort of recognized. I started telling the person I’m talking to that someone famous was walking toward me, but I couldn’t think of who it was. I knew I’d seen him on television or in movies, but I  was never particularly good with names and I wasn’t coming up with this one easily. He kept coming closer and he was suddenly at the payphone next to me. He was taller than me, had on a tweed-ish overcoat, and, as he picked up the phone beside mine he swung around and smacked me with his large black briefcase.

He didn’t seem to know he did it. And, even though there was no apology, it somehow felt good, kind of like a privilege, in a way, that I would be chosen to be bumped by Donald Sutherland’s briefcase. It was over much too quickly.

Maybe you’ve had a brush with greatness, too. Maybe it was Elvis, or Patton. Maybe you’ve run into a sports star somewhere or bumped into a popular news reporter on assignment at the mall. Whoever it might have been, what was your reaction to being in their presence? Did they make you feel special in some way? If they did make you feel special or different somehow, did the feeling last?

We Christians say we’ve not only had a brush with greatness, but that that Greatness actually lives inside of us. Why isn’t the world any better for it? (Colossians 1:27a)

ChizBESTJohn Chisum is an internationally appreciated worship leader, songwriter, mentor, and clinician. Click here for information on The Worship Leader’s One-on-One Coaching with John Chisum. For information about booking John for a worship seminar, worship concert, or special event, contact him directly at john@johnchisum.org, or call 251-533-5960.

The Value of Wisdom

pants

Trends come and go, like parachute pants and scrunchies, but there is wisdom that only comes through age and experience. Until you’ve lived long enough to learn what you didn’t know, it’s impossible to know what you don’t know. For instance, never iron naked. Just sayin’.

Then there’s wisdom that comes from God.

Solomon is known as the wisest man who ever lived, aside from Jesus. When God asked him what he desired, his answer was wisdom. In 2 Chronicles 1, we read:

That night God appeared to Solomon and said to him, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.”

Solomon answered God, “You have shown great kindness to David my father and have made me king in his place. Now, Lord God, let your promise to my father David be confirmed, for you have made me king over a people who are as numerous as the dust of the earth. 10 Give me wisdom and knowledge, that I may lead this people, for who is able to govern this great people of yours?”

We would ALL love for God to ask us this same question, but many of us would much more quickly ask for a million dollars than wisdom and knowledge. But not Solomon. He had enough grasp on what was ahead of him as King (after his father, David) that he knew he needed wisdom above all else. The rest of the story is that he not only became the wisest man of all time, but he became the richest man of all time.

Solomon ruled Israel forty years, had a mostly peaceful reign, and built the most magnificent temple for Yahweh ever known. Unfortunately, he didn’t access the full wisdom that God granted for all of his life and declined in his later years due to marrying many wives who brought in the worship of idols. So, even the wisest man in the world falls prey to pillow talk.

The lesson in this for us as leaders is to value God’s wisdom above wealth. Matthew 6:33 tells us to “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all of these things will be added to you.” In seeking God’s kingdom purposes first everything we need will be “added.” We may not know how or be happy with when, but, if we hold steady and follow the Lord, He always adds.

A great leader values God’s wisdom and never, never wears parachute pants.

EXPRESSION IN WORSHIP

IMG_2901I’ve spent the bulk of my adult life leading musical worship publicly.

There is, of course, much discussion (and dissent) over what is “real” worship. The only “real” biblical answer is that real worship happens when our lives reflect the character, nature, and attributes of Jesus, aka “spiritual transformation.” To reduce authentic worship to lively people singing loudly, clapping their hands, or otherwise jiving to the music is to only see part of worship, that part that can make the least difference in a person’s life and in the coming of the kingdom on earth.

As a worship leader, I will ALWAYS hope and pray that people engage with the music I provide. It’s so much more fun that way! I can be guilty of judging people as “lifeless” and “Spirit-less” but that certainly isn’t always the case. Maybe sometimes a particular person in the service hasn’t encountered Jesus personally and therefore feels no impetus to be lively in their singing, etc. Then my prayer must be that the Holy Spirit will make Jesus real to them and lead them in their own expression of praise.

Or, maybe someone is introverted or even ashamed of their lack of rhythm or a mono-tonal voice. While we would encourage people in either case to “make a joyful noise” or clap along the best they can, they feel intimidated somehow. Often, I’m sure, people just don’t like a style of music being used and then don’t feel engaged in the service. Visually, this is completely discouraging to a leader like me, but it is just part of the reality I deal with week to week.

There is a strong heritage of Hebrew worship in physical expressions that we can enjoy as Jesus followers. There are at least seven words that are translated as “worship”, “praise”, and “singing” but that actually refer more deeply to shouting, bowing, dancing, and even falling prostrate before Yahweh. We, unfortunately, have created synonyms out of the words singing and worship. This is an impoverishment of our deep heritage, but, hey – at least we still sing!

SO – my stance is that my job is to provide the best opportunities I can in any given service for the most people to enter in. This is ultimately the individual’s choice regardless of the musical genres in play. My prayer is that we can all be filled to overflowing with the Holy Spirit and even forget about the style of song. Jesus is worthy of ALL of our praise and devotion. Let’s join in unity and love to worship Him!

The Creative Kingdom

                   “Here lies Tammas Jones. Born a man. Died a grocer.”                                                                                                                                 — An epitaph on an old tombstone in Scotland.

All who believe in God as the Creator pretty much agree on His stellar creativity. The One who can fling galaxy upon galaxy into being is beyond words like “awesome” and “amazing.” In fact, no human words will ever capture the magnitude of His power and glory, ever. But that’s no reason to stop trying as we praise Him!

When you consider the atmosphere God placed Man in (Genesis 3) you immediately recognize it as creative, generative, overflowing with life’s abundance and brimming with illimitable possibilities. God even tasked the Man with naming the creatures He had created for him to enjoy. Imagine that – God had man name His own creatures!

Jesus wrote in John 14:12 that we would do “greater works” by trusting in the creative power of the Holy Spirit. That makes us, in effect, co-creators with Him just like Adam was in the Garden and Jesus was in His ministry. We “name” things in prayer (John 14:12-13) as we believe for God’s creative force to bring the results. We, as Jesus followers, are to be the most creative people on the planet!

Trust Him now for your part in this creative kingdom and watch amazing things happen!