What the elementary school musical taught me about leadership

This morning I had the privilege of attending the Alta Vista Elementary “Spring Sing,” which was a musical performance put on by the 3rd, 4th, and 5th grades for us parents. Little did I know it would turn into a lesson in leadership.

Our music teacher came on staff only recently, and in a short period of time, she put together the best elementary musical I have ever seen. The 3rd-graders opened with “Feelin’ Groovy” – which sets just the right atmosphere because it is, well, groovy. :-) But the thing is that in “Feelin’ Groovy,” Beach Boys songs, and others, ordinary school were performing complex vocal elements. They were singing parts, and the parts were overlaid with other parts. I even heard some harmonies in there! I found myself being emotionally moved. I felt like a sentimental dork, until another dad said something afterward about getting misty-eyed. And he's a pretty tough guy, so I felt better about myself. But back to the point -- this other dad and I ware moved by the excellence our new music teacher had drawn out of the kids in a short period of time.

Here are the leadership lessons I walked away with:

1. Set a lofty vision for people. It is amazing the heights people can reach when we encourage them to raise their eyes above the foothills and look to the mountaintops.

2. As much as possible, make it enjoyable and fulfilling. The kids sang songs they enjoyed. That made a difference.

3. Support people in the process of achieving the vision. Sometimes this is the hardest part, because in our short-attention-span culture, we may want to be on to the next thing before this thing is accomplished. But the kids of Alta Vista did not enter this school year knowing how to perform like a little choir complex songs like “Feelin’ Groovy” or “A Bridge over Troubled Water” or “She’ll Have Fun ‘till Her Daddy Takes Her T-Bird Away.” Think about the vocal elements of those songs for a minute, and you’ll know what I mean. Performing songs like that came from perseverance, practice, and follow-through – all initiated by the teacher.

Although we as Christian leaders are not out to get people to “perform well” in the Christian life, there are analogies here for ministry.

1. The Scriptures set a lofty vision for us – nothing less than “it is not I who live but Christ who lives in me.” It is proper for us to call people to that mountaintop and not settle for the foothills of simply becoming nice or morally upright people.

2. The Christian life is fulfilling. There is nothing better than being a vessel through whom other people are blessed. As John Piper might say, it’s good for us to revel in the enjoyment of living as God intends.

3. We as Christian leaders must walk with people on the journey to allow Christ to live through them. If we are walking with them (and allowing them to walk with us), we will be prevented from walking away from them to go on to “the next thing.” What is needed is relational perseverance – or what is also known as patience and longsuffering, which is the fruit of the Spirit.

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