This is for anyone who desires to be in traveling singing ministry. I have been thinking the last few days about all the mistakes I made and lessons I have learned over the years that make up who I am and what I do now. So, I jotted them down. Here's Brandon's "7 Personal Rules for Music Ministry"....
1. Your personal worth and value is NOT wrapped up in your talent, music genre, or what others think about you. Don't change who you are to fit a mold or gain other people's approval. Be you. Be original. Your worth and value is in the fact that God loves you and created you. Not everyone will like you. And that's ok. You will find your audience. And your audience is not the rest of the industry. Most of them are too busy breaking Rules # 2, 3 and 4, to really get what you are doing.
2. Don't let your "branding" get bigger then your message. You're NOT a superstar. And if you want to be then go into a different field where that is fitting. You are a vehicle of the Gospel. So the message needs to be the focus! What are you saying to the people? Branding is NOT bad. But it should be an enhancement and a tool for your ministry, and not overshadow it.
3. Confidence is much different then arrogance. Be confident in what God has given you but don't be cocky. Confidence is inspiring. Arrogance is disgusting. So check your inner Diva self at the door. Treat everyone with kindness and love. Even hard to deal with sound-techs.
4. Let your MESS be your MESSAGE. Be real. BUT, make sure your message is NOT your mess!! It's ok to make mistakes. You get "Re-Do's. You are gonna learn, and grow. You are human. Dust yourself off, get up, start again. And Share it. That's how we encourage one another. But don't keep making the same mistakes over and over again. Stop making a career out of your mess! And then, share your story in a empowered way! In a way that will inspire someone else struggling that they "can do all things through Christ"!
5. Keep your overhead low. The more you have to pay for the more you have to work. Then you just loose focus of why you are doing it. You don't need to keep up with Jones Family. You don't need a fancy bus, and a huge sound system, full band and CD with the fancy Philharmonic. You don't need an expensive photo shoot or high-end designer shoes and luggage. You don't need to live a lavish lifestyle. You can make great projects inexpensively that will promote your message and ministry without having to prove to others that you "fit in".
6. Take time out for you. The only way you can give is if you're getting! Take care of yourself spiritually, physically and mentally! Listen to music and speakers who inspire you in your spirit! Read books! Have great inspiring conversations with people who encourage you. Go to places that inspire and rejuvenate you. Exercise! Eat healthy! Sit on the park bench with God and have a conversation about YOU and HIM. Don't work so much that you leave out the good stuff! The stuff that will fuel you onstage and fuel your effectiveness. Otherwise you will burn out and have nothing real to give.
7. The reason that churches have stopped having special artists come in is that leaders are looking for more. They are looking for someone to encourage their congregations with more then fancy bands, fancy clothes, fancy CDs with fancy branding. They don't care about #1 songs, how much you are played on the radio, or how many times you won the "favorite singer award". They want more then a toe-tappin song about Heaven and a amazing vocalist who can do all the fancy vocal licks. They need a song and a ministry who is gonna help the depressed single mom in the church whose husband left her for another man and whose teenager daughter is suicidal. Yes, church leadership is looking for more because they need more! And they want real. So if you're gonna work in the church you must be able to give the church what they need. Or you won't be back. Know that church and the congregation. Find out what they need spiritually so that you can pray about how to minister to them! And when you do they will bless you. And so will God.
I hope this helps someone. It was invaluable stuff for me. And I'm still learning!