I am not a classically trained musician. I play primarily by ear, I prefer to read chord charts, I’ve never had voice lessons, I don’t conduct choirs, and I can’t play the organ. I’ve been playing guitar since the age of 7 (I took several years of lessons, some with pretty advanced music theory), and piano since the age of 18. On piano I’m mostly all self-taught, and don’t pretend to be able to play classical piano or accompany choirs or sight-read sheet music.
I love classical music, traditional hymns, choral anthems, liturgy, organ, strings, brass, and everything in-between (well, maybe not polka). An objective analysis (if there was going to be one) of the kinds of songs I pick over the course of a month of worship services would show a pretty healthy blend of old and new.
But, whenever I’m “pegged” (i.e. “categorized”), I’m usually pegged as the contemporary guy.
This used to bother me.
But I like hymns! But I can play piano! But I use a wider variety of hymns at “my” “contemporary” service than at the “traditional service!” But I like liturgy! It didn’t matter. I was pegged.
Then one day I was talking with a worship leader friend of mine who was classically trained. He could sight read music perfectly. He could conduct choirs. He had written for choirs. He had composed pieces for choirs in Latin. He could play the organ. He could write and arrange songs for an orchestra. He could conduct.
But he could also play with a band, knew how to rock, incorporated drums and electric guitars, and spiced up ancient hymns with new arrangements.
And for that, my classically trained friend was pegged as… you guessed it, the “contemporary guy”.
One day I was lamenting with this classically trained friend how I had been pegged the contemporary guy and I couldn’t seem to shake it. He laughed and told me that, even though he met all the objective requirements of being a classical musician, he was still lumped into the same category as me.
And with that, he told me to relax.
It’s a fact: you’re going to be pegged.
Maybe you’re pegged as the “old guy”, “young kid”, “inexperienced girl”, “preacher’s kid”, “pastor’s wife”, “only a volunteer”, “interim”, or “contemporary guy”. You’ve been pegged by a certain group, and you know it, and you can’t do anything about it.
That’s right, you can’t do anything about it. So don’t waste your time/energy/resources trying to un-peg yourself. Just keep on keeping on.
You won’t experience freedom in ministry by trying to prove yourself to certain power blocs. You’ll experience freedom in ministry by falling back on the fact that God has called you and equipped you. Your qualification for ministry doesn’t rest in the hands of a group of people who would define you with a certain tag. Your qualification for ministry rests in God’s calling on you. If the leadership of your church has affirmed this calling, and has given you a platform, then walk in confidence and let the pegs fall where they may.
You’re going to be pegged. You’re probably going to be pegged unfairly. So get used to it, get over it, and get on with being who God has called you to be, in the midst of the congregation he’s called to you serve, with a healthy dose of humility, and a heaping dose of confidence.