SPEEDING!— We were present at a song service recently, and heard or watched a runaway. The pleasant-faced young leader had a good voice and his gestures were fairly acceptable. But he struggled under a fatal handicap. The eyes of his young pianist were glued to her hymnal—and she was a speeder. Her introductory bars were too fast in tempo, and then she left the leader trailing as she raced, sometimes a note ahead of him. It spoiled the song service. The inexperienced leader seemed helpless, unable to cope with the situation. The audience was first puzzled, then amused, and then distressed. Many stopped singing and just watched the performance. The helplessness of the leader was pathetic. He tried to put on the brakes. But the pianist never saw his retarding gestures and kept on speeding—breaking the speed laws of good hymnody, and running through the red lights of holds and pauses. There were no traffic cops to halt the procedure. So the speeding proceeded until the song service was over. It was a race against time, and the pianist won. But a good song service was marred. Speeding is as bad as, or worse than, dragging the tempo.
SUBSTITUTE!—Some of our preachers resort to humorous patter in the pulpit that will draw a laugh, in an attempt to compensate for their conscious lack of spiritual power to press home needed truth. It is likewise often the ruse of the superficial to make up for their lack of depth and content. But this is like the froth that rises to the top of the container. It is wholesome to smile and be cheerful, of course. A merry heart doeth good ; but the substitution of the trivial for the fundamental is not wise. It is putting the counterfeit in place of the genuine. A nimble wit can become, and often is, a deception and a snare. Sprightly patter and spiritual force do not blend. The blueprint is very clear on this.
BARRIERS!—If our workers would only sense how crudities of speech shock and repulse the sensibilities of the ,refined, and raise barriers across the path of entrance to the heart, they would resolutely set themselves to the task of removing these drawbacks. The mangling of one's native tongue—riding roughshod over the demands of grammar—is well-nigh inexcusable. It imposes upon the public a handicap that the herald of truth should not have. It automatically cuts off his best prospects. If they respond, it is in spite of these hindering barriers and in recognition of the earnestness and sincerity of the worker, and the obvious truth of his message. It is like recognizing the refreshing water brought in a cup that is battered and rusty and unappetizing looking, and perchance leaking. How much better for the vessel to match the clear, sparkling water it conveys ! The worker should be able to enter homes of culture with ease and effectiveness, to converse to advantage with the highly trained and the widely informed. Our table manners should not shock the better classes we are seeking to reach. Frankly, some workers reflect little credit in speech to the cause they represent. Such need to seek aid to overcome their impedimenta, if necessary by drastic means. True, these are only externals, but they often affect the reception of the eternal realities.
TEAMWORK!—Teamwork 1S the highest form of endeavor, and calls for special skill and grace. It is easy to shine as a lone star —doing whatever you please, unrestricted by consideration of others, and unhampered as to time and other limitations. But when there are two or more parts to a program, the success of the joint endeavor depends upon the coordination of the parts, and the submergence of individual features to the success of the whole. Two speakers on a program cannot each take their usual time and also expect the public to "take it." They may sit it out once, or even twice ; but many will not come back. It is not fair for the first speaker of the duo to run over his part of the time and leave only the remaining few minutes for the second speaker. And it is not reasonable for the second speaker to think that he can give a full-length message on top of the preliminary talk, which may also have run over. There should be thorough preliminary planning and rehearsal, and definite timing in the actuality. There must be mutual restriction, and adherence to schedule, in order to make a success of the whole. Neither should presume or attempt to "star," or to "steal the show." Inability or unwillingness to abbreviate in teamwork is a weakness that will prove fatal to a double-header meeting. A competent chairman will see that time promises are kept and planning pledges are fulfilled—else the public will write the word finis to well-conceived but poorly executed teamwork endeavor. Here is opportunity for unselfish submergence for a common good.
L. E. F.