There are probably not a lot of folks out there that think they are amazing singers, but I often hear people who refer to their voice as a “gift” from God. Many people believe that God has gifted them vocally and therefore they need to use this gift. Whether or not that is true, and how to determine that, could have many ramifications overall, but what I would like to deal with is how that affects the way you view your voice and ultimately how to care for it.
In Malcolm Gladwell’s book “Outliers: The Story of Success” he takes a look at the world of “outliers”–the best and the brightest, the most famous and the most successful. He asks the question: what makes high-achievers different? It’s a fascinating book that researches everything from their culture, their family, their generation, and the idiosyncratic experiences of their upbringing to come to some startling revelations. I suggest you read the book for a more thorough (and interesting!) look at this concept, but one of the most remarkable conclusions is this: the biggest difference between “gifted high achievers” and others, the next level down, often comes down to this: 10,000 hours of practice.
Whether or not you have a “gift” from God with regard to your voice is, in many ways, irrelevant to how you pursue your craft and your service to Him. Eric Liddell, Scottish athlete, Olympic champion, and athlete known for his decision not to run his preferred race on a Sunday, was quoted as saying: “Many of us are missing something in life because we are after the second best.” I can’t agree more. We so often set our sights so low when it comes to our performance in ministry. We somehow mistakenly think that working on our craft might undermine the value of the “gift” that God has given us. Or, somehow make it appear as though we have a worldly mindset and are focused more on performance than pleasing God.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
The Apostle Paul said in I Corinthians 9:24-25: “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way as to take the prize. Everyone who competes in games trains with strict discipline. They do it for a crown that is perishable, but we do it for a crown that is imperishable.” The issue here, as a singer and leader of worship, is more one of whether or not you are personally pursuing a crown that is “perishable or imperishable” not whether or not you should work toward perfecting your craft. That is something that you may need to get straight between you and God, but the idea of perfecting your craft should not be a question.
If you believe you are called to lead worship with your voice, I believe you need to grow as a singer and as a worshipper. These are things that take time and commitment, but serving Him is a worthy calling and worthy of our time and investment. Spending time in personal worship will help you to lead others into worship. And spending time becoming a better singer, regardless of your “gifting”, can only improve the experience for everyone. I encourage you to pursue training, whether it’s getting personal vocal lessons or simply starting off by investing in some training tools to get started.
It can be a humbling experience to admit that you need to learn how to do something that you seem to be able to naturally do already. To quote Eric Liddell again “The exercises seemed unimportant at first, but later one finds how useful they have been.” There are many things that can cut short an athlete or a singer’s professional life. Knowledge and training are keys to a powerful and sustainable career as a singer. Humbling yourself to admit you can use help and get better is a great start. Following through with discipline and exercise is the next step. Don’t be afraid to invest in your gift so that you, like Eric Liddell can say “I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast (gave me a voice)! And when I run (sing) I feel his pleasure.”