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Smooth Seas Never Made a Skilled Sailor

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My church recently held a Worship Night, and I was asked to run the graphics in ProPresenter. I’ve been on the graphics team for about two years and am scheduled one or two times a month to run graphics for our three Sunday services. This was my first time running graphics for one of our events.

A few days before the event we had the rehearsal, and we had twelve songs scheduled. The rehearsal was running pretty late on a weeknight, so we stopped before running through the last two songs. I was pretty okay with that; I already knew one of them and could figure out the other in time. So I had every intention of running graphics for twelve songs. I had all the backgrounds and fonts updated to match our current sermon series, and I was mentally prepared and felt pretty good. Does anyone else get really nervous running graphics? I got butterflies when I first started, but have gotten pretty confident on Sundays. But I had butterflies again this night. Maybe because I’ve never done twelve songs in a row, or because it was more of a special event. I felt good though, I knew most of the songs pretty well.

So we get through the twelve songs and the last song chosen feels very much like a “last song,” so I’m ready for our worship leader to start praying, I even saw a few people were already leaving. Maybe they felt like that song felt like a “last song” too. But our worship leader doesn’t start praying. He starts singing something else. I quickly (and maybe a little bit frantically) searched for it in ProPresenter’s song database by typing in the title, really quickly hit “Apply All” to the current font so it would match everything else we’d done all night and found whatever slide they were on. So the worshipers missed a couple slides but now they were on track, and I think it was a song most people probably knew anyway. Whew, I was in the clear.

Not so fast. The band ended up doing about five or six extra songs on the fly. One of them, Bless The Lord (10,000 Reasons), for the life of me I could not remember the name of the song to search for it because it’s not the words in the first verse and I was a bit frazzled, but the director in the back helped me out and I got the lyrics going. All the extra songs were pretty popular and I think most people probably knew most of the words, and that’s probably why they chose those, but I still felt super unprepared, and guilty that the worshipers didn’t get to have all the lyrics on display, and every extra song had the lyrics come in two to three verses late.

I got faster each time though. Once I realized what was happening, I knew to search for the song as fast as I could and disregard changing the background in the middle of the song because that’s just a little too distracting. I tried not to beat myself up about worshipers not having all the lyrics and hope they all had their eyes closed anyway and probably didn’t even notice. And then I remembered this quote I stumbled across once: “Smooth seas never made a skilled sailor.”

I have a history of taking experiences like this and thinking I failed. And then seeing that failure and being really hard on myself about it, and in some cases I’ve refused to try that thing again. This is something I’ve learned though, that failure isn’t bad. It’s not toxic, it won’t kill me. Doing something difficult doesn’t mean you’re bad at it and shouldn’t do it again. It can actually be really helpful. When things don’t go the way you planned, when things aren’t “smooth”,  you adjust, you figure it out. I actually think I’m better at my role now on the graphics team. I know what to do in that situation now, and I can use that next time. Every time I’ve made a mistake since I’ve been running graphics for my church, I’ve learned from it and done better each time after.

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