Monday, August 23, 2010

Called To Sing: The Book!

Are you called to sing? Here's a chapter from my book, Called To Sing, 13 Mistakes To Avoid When Starting In Music Ministry! If you'd like to purchase a copy visit Create Space at!

Mistake Number Eight:
Hiring a Person/Business That Produces No Results
By Dr. Naima Johnston

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My Eye
(Psalms 32 Verse 8)

I recently received a phone call from an individual offering his services to my music ministry based on a recent request I put out in my quarterly newsletter. The person expressed that they had expertise in a particular area in which I had been praying and seeking the Lord about an open door. The interesting aspect of this situation is that this same individual had worked with several other musicians that I knew and they were all unhappy with the lack of results this person had produced. In an effort to be Godly, yet wise, I shared with the individual if they felt that they had a viable proposal they should schedule a time to meet with members of my advisory board and I. Needless to say, I have yet to see said proposal or take a meeting…

In our desire to make great strides in ministry we can fall prey to organizations or individuals who either fail to produce results, lack the connections they espouse, or are just incompetent. And as much as we do not want to admit it, there are some individuals in the Gospel/Christian music arena who do not have your best interest at heart. We hate to think that in a profession where people tout that they are servants of the Most High God that there would be those who seek to only elevate themselves at the expense of others. But we should not be surprised, for even the Bible warns us to watch out for those who come as an “angel of light.”

When I first started in music ministry I was inundated with offers to join websites that would promote my music, organizations dedicated to the advancement of my ministry, contests that would put me in the lime light of major record companies and businesses who wanted to manage me yet required me to do all the foot work while demanding huge retainer fees. Some of these options excited me and I did in deed waste valuable time and money pursuing offers that produced no results, but I bless God for the wisdom that was garnered from such experiences. I am embarrassed to say that I paid a monthly retainer to a Christian artist development company of over $300.00 for over a year because I believed that they would help me move my music ministry to the next level – that is almost $3,000. What a shame that was – and I often think now how much outreach I could have done with that money, how many much needed items I could have purchased – how much music I could have recorded!

Before you run off and sign a contract, create a partnership or link up with a business or individual who promises great results make sure that they can really produce the results that you desire, failure to do so can lead you down a road of lost time and resources, all to the detriment of those you are ordained to reach and to your personal ministry and life.

Thoughts to Ponder:

If you are thinking about signing a contract that will charge you fees before you see results find out the following information:

 Are they a legitimate business? Are they registered with the state? Anyone can hang a shingle out and set up shop, make sure that they are recognized by the appropriate organizations in your area.

 Have you checked with the Better Business Bureau? Are there complaints lodged against them? How long have they been in business? The local BBB will have a record of any complaints lodged against this organization if individuals have filed them. Most people walk away from a bad situation in disgust, but once in a while a diligent person will fill out the proper paperwork, thus saving you a great deal of grief.

 Have you checked their doctrinal beliefs, and do they line up with your own? What church do they attend and who holds them accountable for the spiritual concerns of their business/ministry? Do they have the blessing of their Pastor? Although these may seem like personal questions, in a business that is also a ministry we cannot be ignorant of those who we are charging to help us grow and share the gift God has given us and the call on our lives. As the Bible teaches us, we should know those who labor amongst us – how can you link up with one who is unclear about their spiritual stance in relation to your own business/ministry?

 Ask for recommendations and referrals. If you shake a tree hard enough something will eventually fall, so you should expect to find one or two disgruntled folks from the past. Unless their horror stories kick your discernment into high gear take them for what they are worth. What you are looking for is a pattern or a red flag. Most people when asked will produce the names of satisfied clients for you to follow up with so make sure you ask probing questions that will get you the answers you want. Questions such as: “Can you tell me about a time when they did not meet your expectations, how was that handled and how did you feel about the situation?” or, “If I was your child would you recommend this organization to me?”

 If it is a contest, ask them who won last year and what are they currently doing in the music business? Find out if you can contact them and discuss with them how the contest has benefited or advanced their music ministry.

Finally before you take the deep plunge and link up with someone who promises big returns make sure you:

 Fully understand the contract you are signing and be aware of your options to terminate.
 Make sure that you clearly express your expectations, put them down in written form and share them with your employee.
 Remember that these people do in fact work for you, they may have expertise that you need and may in fact know better than you in many situations in which you have hired them to handle however, they should in fact be giving you a report of their accomplishments and work done on your behalf.
 Make sure that they fully explain and give to you in writing any expectations that they might have of you.
 Be sure to define how you will communicate, how often and by what method – always set a time to evaluate progress and share concerns. Always be honest, failure to do so may result in being caught in a situation that you have a difficult time getting out of.
 Make sure they understand your vision and are dedicated to helping you achieve it. Share your goals with them and jointly create goals and ways to measure the achievement of those goals so that you know you are on the right track.

And finally and most importantly, the Word says if any man lack wisdom let him ask and God will give it. Go before the Lord in prayer and make sure this is His will for your life. If you ask and expect an answer you will receive one, just be prepared to be obedient to what the Lord would have you to do.