Every human being is a minister – created no better or worse than every other human, and given the opportunity constantly to make the Invisible visible in millions of ways. Putting on a guitar or signing a record deal doesn’t change any of this.
Here are some tips for being a minister – in this sense of the word – when you’re job happens to be soft rockin’. I’m human, so I’m better at writing these things down than I sometimes am at living them out, but you know that already right?
1. Don’t hide. Don’t spend the day in your tour bus/green room/hotel room/bed. Don’t leave the stage and retreat to your tour bus/green room/hotel room/bed.
2. Do connect. Be with people. Sadly, everywhere you go you’re treated as a notch above the sea of humanity – to some degree. Swim in that sea as often as possible to remind yourself and the other fish that you’re nothing special. And, who knows, someone out there in the deep end might need you today. Or you might need them. You’ll never find out if you hide. And hiding is downright unbiblical. James tells us not to allow divisions in the Church between the rich and poor, the influential and the (supposedly) not-so-much. So do your part to obey that commandment. Be the first one into the building. Meet everyone form the janitor to the pastor. Hang out, hug, listen, pray, laugh, confess, eat late-night waffles.
3. Don’t set up an autograph table or line. This is a personal preference I suppose. I can’t stand sitting behind an autograph table or standing before a line of autograph and photo seekers. It re-erects that barrier between artist and audience I’ve worked so hard to tear down all night. And it makes it nearly impossible for real connection to happen, for a real exchange to take place. You want to make it possible to have a real conversation with people and a line just isn’t conducive to that sort of thing.
4. Don’t travel alone. This is non-negotiable for me. I travel with a road manager/friend. This person, for me, is not just an employee. They have to be a partner, someone who understands what I’m trying to accomplish and buys in totally, who isn’t afraid to tell me when I need to change or improve. This individual, behind my wife and Brian, is the most important and often-seen person in my life. They help protect my heart, mind and marriage and help me improve everything I do. Some folks tell me they can’t afford to travel with a partner. I can’t afford not to.
5. Do be easy. I tell every road manager I have that our goal at every stop is to be the easiest people the promoter has ever worked with. Promoters – especially pastors – have this expectation that artists and their crews are difficult. They expect me to want green M&Ms and complain about the sound system. They expect this because they’ve encountered it in the past. My goal is to be easy, even if it means I don’t get everything I want. Being easy might mean the sound isn’t great, but only good. It might mean I don’t get dinner, or I get a poor night’s sleep or I lose money. But keeping the peace, exceeding expectations and getting invited back or recommended to someone else is worth so much more than getting my way.
6. Do travel less. What does it a profit a man to make more money and sell more CDs if he loses his soul, sanity, health, family or friends? I’m not in charge of my schedule. My wife and road manager/friend and I make those decisions together. We’ve set up limits on how many gigs I’ll do each month, how long a run of shows can be and determined how much time I need off between runs. If I want to make an exception to any of those rules we all have to agree on that. It works for us.
What would you artists out there add to this list?