“Now in this section, I want to create, as the composer requests, una voce. I don’t want to hear any one voice sticking out. It should be as if all of your voices were blended together and coming out of the same person.”
I loved it when my choir responded to my directions. Even the boldest voices curbed their vibrato and volume and worked towards that perfectly unified sound.
At other times in music, una voce isn’t called for. That’s when a choir breaks into two, three, four and even eight-part harmony. Each section has its own line to follow. Now if someone is on the wrong page or, worse yet, singing from a different piece of music, there would be chaos. But when it works, each person hitting the right notes, the result is amazing.
This harmony reminds me of the body of Christ, one body but many parts. Ideally this body is working together in harmony for a common goal. Being on the “same page” is vital to the success of any project or goal. Having the same mission and values brings a church, company, organization or family together. That’s when harmony becomes una voce, a concerted effort to create unity.
On the other hand, a unified voice doesn’t always carry the truth. It can become so loud, so dominant that the truth is shouted down. The Ephesians kept up their cry for two hours claiming the superiority of their god (Acts 19:34). Our Lord Jesus was the victim of a united cry for His death (Luke 23:17-18). The apostle Paul almost lost his life to the unified shouts of a mob (Acts 22:22).
But what if there is a lack of harmony, agreement, or unanimity with things that are vital to the life of a company, organization or family? We can disagree, but when that contention is out of control there isn’t simply a lack of harmony. When instruments and voices go their own way there is a cacophony of sound. When people are quarreling, bickering, or feuding, there is an atmosphere of strife and division. There is a complete breakdown.
The Lord speaks against such divisions, against people who are always “sowing discord” (Proverbs 6:14, 19 ESV). The apostle Paul was so concerned about these disruptions in certain churches that he wrote them personal letters (2 Corinthians 12:20; Galatians 5:20).
If we are trying to create a unified voice, there can be a downside. As leaders are we trying to create lock-step agreement? Are we looking for the voices of adulation and loyalty from those who dare not cross us? The ones who are afraid to speak up in opposition? Are those unified voices really the answer we’re seeking in order to move forward as one?
Perhaps we should instead be asking what kind of voice are we projecting? Do we allow for that one voice who dares to speak up no matter what the consequences? Are we so busy trying to create the una voce atmosphere that we miss out on the beauty of the harmony that individuals can contribute?
Or maybe we should be asking what voice are we listening to? What voice is guiding our decisions?
We have a myriad of voices to choose from in this world. Some are shouting down the voices of reason. Some are enticing, soothing voices that lull us down the wrong paths. But if we are in tune with our Lord Jesus, if we are on His page, we will clearly hear those voices that break through the clamor with truth.
One question remains, however: Whose voice should rise above all the others? Why it’s the Good Shepherd’s, of course! He tells us that His voice is the One Voice to listen to, the One Voice we can trust (John 10:14-16).
That Voice encourages us to work together, live together in harmony (Romans 12:16) and “have the same care for one another” (1 Corinthians 12:25 RSV). It is the Voice of love! And when we lead with love, that love will “bind everything together in perfect harmony” (Colossians 3:14 ESV), “in perfect unity” (NIV).
Above all, that one Voice will give us the right words and actions to create the leadership that honors Him. The words and actions to lead like Him!
Leaving my guilt at the cross,
(First published at Lead Like Jesus August 2020)