Abilities, Gifts, and Skills

Featuring John Telman Posted on November 5, 2008

In any given church, the abilities, gifts, and skills of singers and musicians are an important consideration.   Some prefer they be skillful.  Still others desire the worship team be people marked by a deep, mature walk with the Lord.  Me?  I want both!

In order to be effective in the energy we exert in training and building the skills of singers and musicians, it is important for us to understand just what abilities, gifts, and skills are in terms of the worship ministry.  It's more than semantics.  There are differences between these words although we frequently hear them interchanged.  There are reasons why a skillful musician may not automatically be an effective song leader/worship leader.

An illustration of the difference between ability, giftedness, and skill would be the differences in the value of a diamond.  At its raw stage, its value is determined by its carat weight and/or colour.  This would be like the difference between ability and giftedness.  The weightier the rock or the more appealing the colour, the more potential the diamond has.  A gifted person's "weight" or "colour" would be higher than in a person with "only" ability.  However, this does not mean that there is NO value in ability.

As a diamond is cut and polished, its value is also affected.  This would be like developing a person's ability or gift into a "skill".  Therefore, in some circumstances, an unpolished "gifted" person could be of less value to a ministry than a polished "able" person.  There needs to be effort and discipline involved in the process.  Otherwise, the raw material never reaches its potential.

Some seem to be naturally expressive in their worship to God in song, even with limited ability.  This could be indicative of a raw "giftedness".  With the addition of 1) an ability, 2) theological instruction, 3) studies in worship ministry philosophy, and/or 4) studies in worship ministry practics, such an individual could become a more effective team member or worship leader.

Having said all this, I have a question: Is worship listed as a gift in the Bible?  No!  It's the posture of ones heart.  The giftedness would be either leadership (Ephesians 4) or aesthetic artistry (Exodus 31, 35; Acts 9).  King David was described in 1 Samuel 16:18 as a "skilled musician", but the posture of his heart is also reflected in the fact that "the Lord was with him".

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