steve ball

personal thoughts on family, faith and work

Archive for the month “March, 2012”

worship bands and exclusivity

From the age of about eleven I’ve always been involved in playing in a band. In the early days I was the drummer (which may surprise some as I now rarely get to play them!). Other members included bass, piano, sax and singers. After a few years together we even recorded a couple of albums which are thankfully now collecting dust on bookshelves somewhere!

As time went on and we got more involved in worship at church, I was needed to play the piano/keyboards more as we had other good drummer. I also dabbled with the guitar and flute (not at the same time) which was really good fun. I loved exploring new musical ideas and with the tight musical set up that we had, this was easy and very effective.

This was also a problem…

We had become very exclusive at the cost of other people trying to ‘get in’ to the band. It wasn’t always easy to see as we were going through our teens and early twenties, but looking back, in my opinion, it wasn’t a healthy place to be as far as the church was concerned. There was little, if any, provision for new band members to be part of the team. The church had a strong focus on musical excellence – and this is what it got.

I honestly can’t remember the tipping point that made me stop and realise what was going on. But I’m glad I did – or was made to. I remember starting a group on Sunday afternoons to encourage new people to start playing and getting people to join the main worship band. This was an interesting time, and it was quite difficult to break the attidudes of some people at times. As new members joined the band, the dynamics completely changed. No longer could I just give the drummer or bass player a ‘look’ and they would know exactly what I wanted them to do – things were more basic and had to be explained in a clearer way.

At my current church I have responsibility for worship and I hope I am cultivating an ethos of inclusivity and accountability. This, in my view, is a more healthy approach to leading any team. Those that know me will know that I now kick against any sort of exclusivity!  I believe anyone with a heart for worship should be given opportunity – no matter how hard it is for the worship leader to ‘fit them in’.  Everyone can play a part, no matter how small, and feel valued.

But as much as anything musical, being part of a worship group should be about being encouraging, supporting, and training other members of the team. If we can’t support, encourage and include – our corporate worship, to me, just doesn’t feel right.

Being part of a band is so much more than just the music – being part of a worship team is so much more than just the band.

Points to ponder:

  • Is your worship team exclusive – either in reality or perceived?
  • What are we doing about developing new people into our worship teams?
  • How do we support and encourage members of our worship teams?

reflections on… march

March has been one of the busiest months I can remember in a long while! As well as being busy ‘doing’ stuff it has been a bit of a roller coaster of emotions too. The sadness of dads funeral, the fun and laughter of being with extended family, the concern for friends going through very hard times, the satisfaction of getting work done on my diploma, the excitement of being with my son in his sax exam – all mixed up together. I’m looking forward to some time away this weekend to give my brain some space!!

Family:  It was lovely to be with all my family, despite the sad circumstances, at the start of the month. Catching up with Aunts and Uncles over a (rather ambitious) three course meal planned and cooked by my eldest son (with help from Barbara) was a really fun evening.

We started The Marriage Course this month and discovered we like each other!! Three sessions in and it’s fantastic to see how strong our marriage is. I’m very thankful to God for Barbara and our boys – especially when you look at the difficult times many other families are going through.

My youngest son has been working really hard ready for his grade three saxophone, which he took on the 23rd. I was able to accompany him on the piano for two of his pieces (which was a bit of a shock as usually the teacher does) which turned out to be a great project we could share together. Just the wait for the results now – very proud though, whatever the outcome. No doubt we will be playing together lots more.

Work: My diploma is going well. Interestingly, some of the concepts we have been discussing can be equally applied to other areas of life including church. I’ve caught up with the work after loosing a few weeks last month due to circumstances and my first assignment is done with only a couple of minor alterations to make.

Today we had our annual staff team day for all CCPAS staff and trustees (which is no mean feat as they are spread all over the country). It’s great to be part of a fantastic, enthusiastic team.

Faith: Getting back into the swing of things after a bitty February was good. More encouraging was that everything carried on without me being around all of the time.  It’s always good to see people happily taking a lead when needed.

Highlights of the month:
Having family, who we’ve not seen for ages over for dinner
Accompanying my youngest son in his sax exam
Finishing my first assignment

thoughts on accountability

In my view, accountability is very much under-rated and under-valued.  Too often I see situations (sadly, too frequently in churches) spiral out of control and eventually cause real damage; and at the heart of the issue is a lack of accountability. Some people may see accountability as a threat, others as a hindrance to their vision or leadership.  But I believe if a culture of accountability is developed in any area of life, it can only lead to more positive outcomes – for everyone.

Below are some thoughts – not in any particular order:

Accountability promotes teamwork
In any role (paid or voluntary), being let free to work completely independently without any reference to anyone else is a dangerous place to be. Being accountable to each other in the group gives a united purpose and the feeling of being part of a team where your voice is as equally important as the next persons.

Accountability should not be a threat
If I want to embark on a new project or develop a new system, and feel I can not run the ideas through others who I am accountable too because they may disagree or suggest a different way of doing it, I am acting like a bit of a control freak!  We all have a little bit it in us!  Usually – if there is good relationship – the person(s) I’m accountable to will actively encourage me in any new area if it fits with the overall direction of the organisation.  They may suggest alternative ways of doing it, but I’ve learnt (and am still learning!) to hold onto things lightly – other people can probably do the job as good if not better than me anyway!!

Accountability should not hinder leadership
Every organisation needs good, solid, visionary leaders. But leaders need to be accountable too. Whether it’s to other leaders, their immediate team or some other group, a good leader will always seek council from those that they respect.

Accountability gives security
Working together as a team and being accountable to each other brings a confidence and security in what you are doing. (Security is very different from being comfortable – a team can feel secure in the path they are leading and still be pushing ahead with new ideas.)

Accountability moves up and down, and side to side
Accountability is not a one way flow. We should be accountable to our boss, our peers and those that work for us. This does not take away from the fact that as a leader/manager, I am responsible for setting a vision and purpose; but including and being accountable to other people gives a vision credibility within the group and – very importantly – gives the group a sense of ownership.

These, as I said at the start, are my views. I would be interested in what you think!

Points to ponder:

  • Who are the people I am accountable to?
  • What other benefits of accountability are there?
  • Should I be more accountable to those around me?

the responsibility of the ‘status update’

Facebook and Twitter (and other social networks) have the potential to be a fantastic way of communication. I use both – personally and as part of my job. But… every now and then I see a status or tweet that catches my eye and I wonder how much the writer realises the impact that it can have on their ‘friends’ and followers.

There is a very well known speaker who has well over 2 million friends on their Facebook page. Within 15 minutes of updating a status it has been liked by over 6,000 people, shared by over 750 and has hundreds of comments. The stats are similar for pretty much all of their statuses. (For the record – as far as I can see there is nothing wrong with any of the content!) If they decided to put up a status saying something completely incorrect or harmful to someone else – think of the influence that would have on tens of thousands of people who would read it.

Most of us in real world don’t have two million friends! This should not, however lessen how much we think about what we decide to share publicly. Once something is published on the internet, it goes out of our control as to where it may end up. Friends of friends of friends can share; it can be retweeted by complete strangers and all of a sudden, what we say online can be seen all over the world – whether we like it or not.

Our job/role in the community also has a huge significance in the perception of what we publish. Any status I publish could be read with the backdrop of my work in child protection, as a worship leader and as someone on the leadership team at church. Think how much damage could be done by an inappropriate or unprofessional status update. Or, if you have people who look up to you and take everything you say as ‘the truth’ – that’s an incredibly responsible (and potentially dangerous?) position to be in, and one not to take lightly. There are some things that should never be published!

Writing a public blog has been interesting in many ways. One thing I had to get my head around was the fact that what I say could, and should be challenged – even if they are my ‘personal thoughts’. This means people may disagree or have a different perspective to me. Once I got over this, I enjoyed the comments and regard them as a great learning tool.  (I do get to approve comments on my blog first, but all have been accepted so far!)

I don’t have any particular rules about what I publish online, except to try to remember to think very carefully before I press the ‘post’ or ‘tweet’ button. There have been several occasions where I’ve got to the end and then deleted it thinking that it’s not very helpful – even if it was true!

Points to ponder:

  • What do our status updates say about us?
  • Should we be thinking longer before posting – and if so why?
  • How can we guard ourselves from the potential of misusing social media to influence others inappropriately?

lessons in life – from my dad

Back in October, we didn’t think dad would make it until his birthday or Christmas so I decided to thank him for what he meant to me while he was around to appreciate it.  When I read this to him, he wasn’t able to talk much, but he smiled and chuckled as I struggled to read it through to him.

He did say a few words after I finished.  This is what I read to him.


You have taught me so much throughout my life, but there are four things that stick in my memory.

I remember when we were small kids going swimming, and you would be the one throwing us around and splashing us – generally making our time there fun.  You taught me how to love and have fun with family.

I remember going to collect my exam results from school with you.  I did pretty badly, but the first thing you said to me was ‘well done’. You taught me how to always try and see the best in people.

Remember my first car?  The pea-green Fiat 128!  I needed some new tyres and you leant me the money, but made me pay it all back. I thought you were a bit mean at the time, but you taught me another valuable lesson – honesty in your word, and the value of a strong work ethic.

As kids we were dragged from one church meeting to another – most of which I enjoyed!  You helped me to find my own, strong, faith which I will be eternally grateful for.

I hope that I can pass on these valuable life-lessons to my boys:

  • To love and have fun with my family,
  • To always try and see the best in people,
  • To have and honest and strong work ethic,
  • To encourage others to find their own faith.

Thanks for everything you have done for me,

With much love, your, very proud of you, son.


Dad replied – ‘You’ve been a good son to me’.  Words which I will always treasure.

Points to ponder:

  • What life-lessons would you want to pass on – and how can you do that?
  • Is there someone who you should take time to thank while they’re able to appreciate it?

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