For me, one of the most rewarding and frustrating parts of being the sound guy is a life of anonymity. If you are good at what you do, you simply fade into the background and no one even notices you exist. This can be hard for some people, and very rewarding for others. For me, it is both.
When I was first thrown behind a sound console (practically kicking and screaming), I was a quiet high school kid who wanted to avoid the limelight at all costs. Maybe thats one of the reasons they asked me to run sound. Maybe they were just desperate enough. Whatever the reason, it started a long and winding journey that led me to where I am today.
For years I happily faded into the background. I ran sound for everything from youth groups, to church services, to local bands. During that time I complained about the lack of recognition, and the focus on mistakes, but honestly, I enjoyed the background.
Then something strange happened. I had been playing guitar for several years, normally alone in my bedroom and rarely in front of other people. But I wound up in a church that had a great sound guy, but no bass player. So I gave up my life of anonymity for a life of slightly less anonymity as a church bass player. Over time, and as I moved from place to place in the military, I wound up as a lead guitar player. Looking back, I can’t quite tell what happened. One day, I am safely hiding behind a sound console, a then I look up and I am playing lead guitar in front of hundreds of people. Every step of the way was filling a more pressing need, and every step brought me further from the shadows and onto center stage.
Then there was a more pressing need. The youth group in my church needed a worship leader, and I felt compelled to step into that role. I still dabbled with the sound board, and I led and trained the tech team, but my primary role was in front of everyone.
And in that role I realized something that really changed how I look at life. Even when I am squarely in the limelight, I am not supposed to be the center of attention. As a Christian, no matter what our job or position may be, our purpose in life is to point to God. No matter what our role is, we are designed to fade into the background.
Once I learned that truth, my role mattered a whole lot less than what I did with it. After three years of leading worship, I stepped into my current role as audio engineer for a large church. Many people questioned my decision at the time. They questioned whether I could go from center stage to anonymity. What they did not realize is that I have been in the background the whole time. And I have found that whatever role I find myself in, it is always more fulfilling when I remember my purpose: to fade into the background and let God take the spotlight.