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The Background Music of Life

“How can she sleep through all of this noise?”

Right in the middle of the action, conversations, loud shouting at the football game on television, was our sleeping one-month-old baby in her portable crib. She was missing the celebration of her big day of family gathered in her honor. Of course later that night when all was quiet, she was wide awake and crying for attention. “Quiet! The baby’s sleeping!” was completely the opposite of her nature.

Background noise and music is part of many households. When my husband and I visited a new parishioner, she left the TV on the entire time totally unaffected by the noise that competed with our conversation. My mother had the radio going during the day while she went about her household chores. There was a constant stream of music, news, radio skits and information. I enjoy music when I’m working, especially when the task allows my mind to wander. My children still remember the albums and songs I played when I cleaned the house.

Background music is everywhere. I smile today when I hear elevator music that used to be cutting edge hard rock. I often played classical music when my students were working. Today when I see someone using earphones or earbuds at their desk, I wonder what they’re listening to and if should interrupt them if I have a question. In restaurants and other venues, music can be annoying if you can’t even shout a conversation.

Music is vibrations that fill the airwaves. People talk about “feeling a good vibration” or getting “good vibes” from someone. The Beach Boys had a song in the 1960s called “Good Vibrations.”  Although they sang “I’m pickin’ up good vibrations” and “Got to keep those lovin’ good vibrations happening,” they were talking about more than music. They were talking about the emotional connection and ambiance of a relationship.

This idea isn’t uncommon. After all, if something we experience or hear pleases us, we say it’s “music to our ears.” The opposite is true when that “music” is so strident and unrelenting in its criticism that it hurts our heart, our morale. But when we enthusiastically say good things about someone, we enjoy “singing their praises.” Of course, no one is actually singing, unless we are on stage in a musical production.

The way we conduct ourselves, what we say and how we say it, even our body language, is like the background music in our workplace, office, classroom, or home. There is a “soundtrack” that plays around us as leaders. We do send out certain “vibes.”

When I worked as a temporary employee going from one office and business to another, I could feel the music of the place. Sometimes tension, competition, and doing enough to avoid the boss were vibrating off the walls. On the other hand, if I was lucky enough to meet the manager or boss of some companies, it became clear why the music of enthusiasm, energy, camaraderie, and helpfulness were the “songs” people were listening to and singing in their hearts.

It’s the parent, the CEO, or the manager who creates the vibes, sets the tempo for the background music of a family, a company, a church, or an organization. Their music infiltrates the airwaves and sets the “tone” for those they lead.

We can learn a lot from the Master Composer, our Lord Jesus, who creates songs in our hearts, “surrounds me with songs of deliverance” (Psalm 32:7), and “calls forth songs of joy” (Psalm 65:8). He knows how important it is to be that steadfast source of encouragement and grace.

When we’re tuned into His station, when we’re picking up His good vibrations, it will be music to the ears of those we lead. It will be a chorus of everyone singing the praises of those we work with, of those we work for. Above all, the best choir will be those who sing the praises of our Lord Jesus who keeps those loving good vibrations happening, who is the Master Conductor of our songs of joy!

Leaving my guilt at the cross,


(First published at Lead Like Jesus June 2022)


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