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Play Fair

One of the first things we learn is what’s fair and what isn’t. Many a pitched playground battle has erupted over “No fair!” Parents learn early that the only way to ensure equitable division is: “You get to cut it, but your brother gets to pick first.”

The Bible is full of squabbling siblings, each trying to get more than their fair share.

The Bible is full of squabbling siblings, each trying to get more than their fair share. Cain and Abel, Jacob and Esau, Leah and Rachel. (It’s one reason why funerals can be such touchy occasions: “But she got the good stuff, and all I got was this.”) It’s hard to let things go, especially when you know in your heart of hearts that something’s not fair, but there’s really nothing you can do.

Yet in music ministry after music ministry, some directors will consciously or unconsciously choose favorite cantors (who may not necessarily be the best singers) or soloists (ditto). Such treatment inevitably breeds resentment because everyone knows it’s not fair. Sometime a priest will tell the music minister he doesn’t want a certain cantor for a particular service. That might be for good reason—if the cantor doesn’t prepare appropriately or has a wince-making vibrato, But if it’s because the priest just doesn’t like the person, that’s not fair.

Those whose ministry is diminished by unjust favoritism may stick around for a while; but they may simply bow out and go elsewhere, to be treated fairly. Music directors and pastors both need to look carefully at how they treat others. There are always three questions:

Is it true?

Is it kind?

Is it fair?

MD Ridge
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Art by Martin Erspamer, OSB
from Religious Clip Art for the Liturgical Year (A, B, and C).
This art may be reproduced only by parishes who purchase the collection in book or CD-ROM form. For more information go

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