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For the past five years, I’ve been “choir mom” at two different high schools. This volunteer gig consists of going to class each day, doing sectionals (this is when we split into groups to learn their choral parts, ie, “altos” or “tenors”, etc,), accompanying on the piano, etc. I also am an extra set of ears and eyes which means I get to confiscate forbidden cell phones, tell them to quit chatting, tell them when something is off-pitch, off rhythm, doesn’t have good tone, etc.
When the teacher is gone, an official substitute comes to the class, but I take over the class doing what the teacher would normally do. I love doing this. I’m more strict than the teacher. In fact, I kick butt. I don’t tolerate talking out of turn or spontaneous potty breaks – nope, not on my watch.
These are high school students, for crying out loud. In just a few short years, they will be launched into adulthood. I can’t stand lazy students who think they are coming to choir as if it is a basket-weaving class. Because of my relationship with them, I know their musical potential and dang it, I want to see them work hard so they can see and hear excellent results. Some of the kids are lazy and don’t want to work hard. Teaching music and having high expectations is not about me trying to be their friend. If that happens in the long run, fine, but my first job is to help them to sing well and enjoy music by instilling in them a good work ethic and an ear for good choral music.
My height can be intimidating and I use to my advantage. Hmm, am I a bully? But those kids who know me best know that I’m a softy inside. They finally realize that choir is cool and it’s much more rewarding to work hard and get good results. By the end of the school year, they usually are sad to leave, they plaster my Facebook wall with sweet notes and I know we’ve succeeded in transforming their school choral experience from taking choir as an extra filler class to taking choir because it’s a great musical skill to have which can last a lifetime, and the relationships are the cherry on top. Just today on our choir Facebook group there are a couple of kids whining about missing each other. Good grief, they are pathetic kids. I might have to do something about that.
Well, there’s another guy who wants good results from his people. He’s tough and doesn’t mince words. He yells out from his position of authority. He says he loves them. His name is Pastor Jim Standridge. There’s a video spreading around and going viral. I’ve lost count of how many e-mails I’ve received on this particular video. Maybe you’ve seen it.
I’m telling you, if you ask my choir kids how I treat them in sectionals, they will tell you I am a drill sergeant. Even the choir director refers to me as such because I point out their mistakes and drill with them until they succeed in fixing mistakes.
But is it okay to be a drill sergeant as a pastor? Is it okay to call out congregants’ sins from the pulpit?
I don’t know. This sounds familiar to me. From the piano, I yell out to the kids that they are flat or sharp. I don’t beat around any bushes. Should the school fire me from my volunteer job because I am singling out someone? Am I destroying their self-esteem? I don’t know, for some reason, they keep allowing me to come back and my Facebook friends list keeps growing.
Let’s read about this pastor and his antics from this Christian Post article:
A video excerpt of a sermon by Jim Standridge, senior pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church in Skiatook, Okla., has gone viral on the Internet, inspiring hundreds of comments about the Christian minister storming from the pulpit during his message to admonish a congregant for falling asleep and then calling out other worshippers, one of whom he decries as “the sorriest church member I have.”
After hearing that a video of his sermon has gone viral, Standridge responded to the Christian Post “that he could not care less what a few strangers on the Internet think about his message. The minister insisted that he held no anger toward online commenters.”
“It was a family meeting, not a national meeting,” he told CP, adding that his May 19, 2013, sermon was full of grace and love. “But you can’t judge a man by one message.”
Why has the video gone viral? Here’s more of Standridge:
The preacher, who had declared that he was there “representing the king of kings and lord of lords,” again picks up his message to the general congregation, but at 40 minutes into his remarks, Standridge appears to lose all patience with the young man who again had nodded off.
Storming from the pulpit, Standridge says, “Don’t you lay your head. I’m important, I’m somebody.”
“Now you might do your English teacher that way, but I’m not teaching English, I’m teaching eternal life here,” he adds. “I love you. You know I love you. Have I convinced you that I love you?”
In the video, Standridge appears to physically help the young man lift his head.
“You say, ‘Well, he may never come back.’ Well he aint’ here now,” Standridge says afterward as he walks between the main aisle separating the pews. The minister then calls out a man whose wedding he was to officiate and declares him “the sorriest church member” who is “not worth 15 cents,” presumably because he has been absent from church. Standridge follows up the open rebuke with a bear hug and tells the man he loves him.
As he heads back to the pulpit amid a quiet congregation, the minister says, “You can’t get this at any other church in town. Now y’all don’t want me, all you got to do is tell me. We won’t have a church fight.”
After stating how he and his wife have no problem packing up and finding another church to guide, Pastor Standridge says, “But I’m not interested in recreating the prostitute of the church.”
Here is the video. Is this a loving pastor? Am I a loving choir mom? What’s the difference? Does he want his congregants to be the very best they can be just as I want my choir students to be their very best? See for yourself and tell me what you think. Darn, too bad I don’t have a video of me in action to compare the two of us side by side. 🙂
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