I am passionate about music. I enjoy listening to several styles, and I play various instruments. I have also lead worship for most of my adult life, and I currently play electric guitar in our church praise band. As a musician, I am influenced by guitar players past and present. I recently heard two of my favorites describe themselves in very different words. These musician’s perception of themselves has a deep influence on their style and even in the history of their bands. Are you curious yet about which guitarists I am referring to? Keep reading.
Ritchie Blackmore: The Guitar Hero
He is one of the best of all times. His powerful style and technique influenced countless musicians, including myself. When asked why he broke up with his band, Deep Purple, and launched a new group called Rainbow, Richie said,
"The problem was that that there were too many competing egos in Deep Purple. In Rainbow there was only one ego – me."
Those who know the history of this genius of the electric guitar know that he has a huge abrasive persona, once having destroyed a TV camera with his guitar during a televised festival. His band has had several formations throughout the years and now has another guitarist – with a smaller ego.
The Edge: The Band Player
His stage name may indicate a big ego, but U2’s guitar man, David Howell Evans, a.k.a. “The Edge,” is quite the opposite. In an interview, he describes his role in the successful Irish group:
"I play for the band, my goal is to contribute to the overall sound of the group."
Indeed, Edge’s stile provides musical textures and drive to the music of U2, but he is not known for loud guitar solos that stand above the rest of the band. Incidentally, his style has been a great influence in worship guitarist all over the world – myself included.
Our model of the Church is what the New Testament tells us. The “Acts” Church was not led by guitar heroes with fast fingers and big egos, but by men and women who served others and mobilized disciples to transform the world. Here are three ways in which servant leaders “play for the band:”
- They mobilize people by bringing them together in healthy productive teams that accomplish God’s vision.
- They don’t have a need to be up front or appear. That attitude opens up the opportunity for others on the team to shine, which in turn, motivates the whole team, having a positive effect on #1.
- Their leadership has enduring power. Healthy and empowered teams develop a sense of loyalty that reduces turnover. The band stays together through thick and thin.
Once again, the world of leadership and the world of music intersect to teach us valuable lessons. As Biblical visionary leaders, we have the opportunity to be band players, leading through service, inspiring others, giving people the opportunity to shine, and leading for the long run.
P.S. I know little about Richie Blackmore’s faith, but The Edge and other members of U2 are very vocal about their Christian faith. Perhaps there is a connection there.