Using Music to Grow Leaders

What is your favorite hymn?

Recently on Facebook, a question was raised. It was a simple question, really.
“What is your favorite hymn?
The pull-at-your-heartstrings kind of favorite hymn?”

Thinking it would get lost in the plethora of political squabbles and cute kitten videos, I didn’t think anyone would respond.

But they did! Several days later the comments were still coming in with exclamations from young and old alike.

It is Well With My Soul
The Deep Deep Love of Jesus
Here I Am Lord
Amazing Grace, Amazing Grace on bagpipes, Amazing Grace acoustic version.
Great is Thy Faithfulness
Blessed Assurance
The Spacious Firmament
Be Thou My Vision
And Can It Be

Some hymns were familiar ones. Others were more obscure. Some were from within the past few years. But a simple question struck a chord (no pun intended).

Something that is unique about the Christian tradition as compared to all the other major religions of the world is the practice of communal singing. This time of year as we approach the Christmas holidays is especially poignant. For many of those hymns we don’t need the hymn book in front of us. We just know it because it has been ingrained within us.

Just as music has a way of tugging at the heartstrings of people the world over, so does it also have its place in the development of leaders.

Song Development

Recently, Freedom to Lead International traveled to Nairobi, Kenya for several days of song development. The Maasai, Borana, and Swahili language teams each created and recorded brand new songs for three leadership development modules of Freedom to Lead’s The Garden Project.

The song development piece is essential for these storycentric leaders to be able to retain what they have learned.

“If you want someone to remember something, tell them a story. But if you want them to memorize it, teach them a song.”

Song guidelines derived from leadership principles are created to guide musicians in this song creation. The musicians present in Nairobi all expressed deep gratitude for not only being able to participate, but also having learned how to develop songs for their culture group. In fact, one couple was so moved by what they saw the teams doing, they got together on their own initiative to create Scripture songs in their own language Luo. The Bible is currently being translated into Luo, so this is huge to be able to teach Scripture through song.

Friendships were made across languages, cultures and music styles. This is the redemptive power of the cross of Christ. Jackeline (pictured above), for example, comes from the Maasai tribe. Even fifteen years ago, the Maasai had very little interaction with the outside world. Now they not only have a sizable Christian population but they also have leaders among them being trained to better lead their communities in a Christ-centered way.

Mary Lu Anthony, a member of the Storycentric Arts Team, says,

“I love working with the teams and am beyond blessed to get to know them, to hear their hearts for the lost and their commitment to share the one and only hope of salvation, Jesus. Some have been persecuted for their faith, rejected from their communities because of Christ yet they do not back away for the One who is the way, the truth and the life.”

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