I love to sing. I’m not a great singer, but through excellent training in high school (thanks Mr. Lipke!) and the opportunity to sing in truly great choirs and ensembles over many years I developed a great appreciation for God’s musical instrument—the voice. My favorite part of worship service Sunday morning is the worship songs. We’ve got great preaching, but when I sing along with the worship songs, the music lifts my soul and I feel a bit closer to God. The idea of worship is to magnify and glorify God. I hope he enjoys my singing at least as much as I do.
This past Sunday, for some reason I can’t explain, in the middle of a song I stopped singing. I closed my eyes and listened. I relaxed my shoulders and released tension in my body. My ears tuned into individual elements of the music (acoustic and electric guitars, on-stage singers, a cajón drum), as well as the hundreds of voices around me. After a few moments, the words and their meaning became more intense. I wasn’t singing, but I sensed that my offering of worship to God had actually increased.
That’s when it hit me that sometimes the best way to worship God with music is not to participate in singing with my voice or playing an instrument with my fingers. Sometimes the best way to worship is to experience the music and to meditate on the way the music moves my soul and the meaning of the words. In that moment, I felt even closer to God.
Later that day, I thought about my new worship experience and revelation, and realized the same principle applies in other settings, too.
Conversations: When we are conversing with others, especially one-on-one, we devote a lot of time to speaking. Stop speaking. Listen. Consider the meaning of the words the other person is using. Listen for the emotions woven into each statement. Watch for body language that reveals hidden messages.
Problem solving meetings: Meetings are often gatherings of subject matter experts to focus on a solving a problem. Stop fixing. Observe. Watch how people interact with one another. Look for interpersonal dynamics that others don’t notice. Identify emotions.
Work: Every hour of every day is filled with important and unimportant things to do. Stop working. Think and be strategic. Commit 80% of your time to what only you are qualified and able to do. Allow others to take on more responsibilities. Invest in the future.
Whatever you’re doing right now, consider the value and potential benefit of not doing it. When I stopped singing a worship song, I found that my worship increased. Stop talking—you might have a better conversation. Stop problem solving—you might find solutions to more pressing problems. Stop working—you might get more work done.
What do you need to stop doing so that more of it gets done?