Music Minister and National FOGMMON Boss, Asu Ekiye shares: “The Tragedy of Full Time Music Ministry” an interesting piece for every Music minister aspiring to go into full-time Music ministry. He also shared he personal experiences as a music minister in this write up.
Asu Ekiye speaks
“The greatest frustration in life is to be neck deep in a career or a profession that cannot feed you” (Asu Ekiye)
“Any job you do, no matter how passionate, that can not sustain ur livelihood will ultimately become your ‘misery-hood’ ” (Asu Ekiye)
“Every hungry man will minister anger if the hunger has gained stubborn reality.”
The bible says that the talent or gift is given to every man to profit withal .. (1cor 12:4)
Talent is a skill or an ability that someone is born with.
Every talent given to man is first for impact and also for survival. The parable of the talents in (mathew 25:14-30) is emphatic about the essence of a talent and the need for each talent to be optimized.
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Any talent that impacts men and not impact the impacter is an anathema.
Calling yourself a FULL TIME Music Minister without a full time income from music, is what I call the paradox of false air of occupational contentment.
There is no pastor, no matter how full of faith, that has remained a pastor without a reasonable basis to guarantee that his livelihood is sustainable by the proceeds from the altar.
There are too many frustrated people in the music ministry, falsely motivated and on a wrong trajectory of doing music full time when they should be eking out great living with some profitable ventures. It is for this reason that this write up has become necessary.
Music is not the GIFT OF THE SPIRIT.. Music is a TALENT. What is the difference ?
The gifts of the spirit is an exclusive preserve of the believer… 1cor:12:4-11. Only believers can be blessed with the gifts of the spirit because they are spiritually allocated and distributed. But talents are for every human being. Whereas the gift of the spirit is for believers, talents are for both believers and unbelievers. Eg. Sports , entertainment, oratory etc. But the irony is that the unbelievers or secular practitioners have preponderantly made a huge capital from their talent than the believers. Because they understand the terrain of talent more than the believers ..
Music first begins as a talent and when the possessor is faithful in the stewardship of the talent, God calls such a person specifically to a higher service in music according to the order of the Levitical priesthood.
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The church, especially in Nigeria, regards musical talent as one of the gifts of the spirit. And when it is the gift of the spirit , by their perception or definition, there should be no pecuniary connotation or attraction. This to me, is the greatest albatross to the music talents in the church..
That is why till date, the Nigerian church has become a harbinger of talented but frustrated people because most churches (not all) have no value for talent.
I know of a church that would tell you, ” it is not music that has brought us to this level of impact, it is the word” so anything outside the word is just a pastime. And honestly speaking, I can submit to you that this is the singular reason why this particular church, Inspite of her wealth and influence, experiences a mind blowing scarcity of musical stars because what u don’t value u will not attract and what you don’t sow into, don’t expect a harvest .
I have met quite a reasonable number of young people whom I often try to engage in conversation and sometime, I ask them. What do you do? And the response is “music” !!!
And I would ask further “how do U feed?” And they would say “from music of course ..” And here is a fellow who can’t feed, cloth, pay his or her house rent or fulfill other economic obligations. How do you engage in something that can’t feed you as your full time job? Something not right there.
Now, some persons would tell me, “we are doing music by faith even if it can’t feed us, one day it will”. Hmmmmm! Sounds nice..
Then my question is: Why don’t you also use the same faith to pursue a venture that can feed you while you grow your music to an acceptable height.
After my graduation in 1992 from the university, I rounded up my youth service in Ramat Polytechnic Maiduguri and went straight into music ministry full time. The zeal of the lord consumed me so much that my mental faculties were oblivious of the Bobby traps and oxbow lakes on my path to the top.
Some of the facts that I know now and the utterances I make today, I learnt the hard way.
I lived a miserable life doing music full time without a comensurate source of income to sustain me as a young man. The church where I served basically had no agenda for me as the music director. I lived a very frustrated life..
But one encounter brought me to my senses.
When it was time for me to release my first album, which was the Back to Base Music project that shot me to limelight , I approached all the “rich” men in my church then to raise the sum of N60,000 (sixty thousand Naira only) to release my album, most of them refused. They all had excuses for turning me down.
However, when the church had one need or the other, these elders would run on top of each other to volunteer their financial support ..
Now, there was one elder I approached whom I knew had more than enough capacity and was in the habit of making massive pledges each time the church would raise funds.
He was willing to help me but asked me to meet him at home. So one day, I got set to begin the journey. I got to his house in an Okada one morning, then he asked me for the second time. “Young man, what did you say you need money for? I said “sir, to release my musical album”. Then he instructed: “Write down everything you need for the album”.. I did as instructed. Then he dismissed me and ask me to see him the next week.
With unquenchable optimism and a little bit of humble swag, I planed for the next visit.
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When I got there the next Week, the security man told me he had traveled.. With a deflated psyche, I started plotting on my own how I would track this rich elder ..
The next time , I was lucky enough to see him, he asked same question above all over again. “Young man, what did u say u need the money for? I said “sir, to release my musical album”. Then he barked again: Write down everything u need for the album.. Then I mustered a little amount of effrontery to speak up. I said “sir, “I wrote out that list before and presented it to you” and he said “yes I know but “write it again”. Disappointedly but quite enthusiastically, I made the list again.
The man would throw a furtive gaze at me running his eyes from my head to toe, as if to say, “you just keep bugging me” and he dismissed me again and asked that I see him the next week. Guess what?!! I was in this vicious cycle for the next 9 months with nothing to show for it? Quite a disaster and an absolute waste of time I must add.
But I kept asking myself , why didn’t he simply say I don’t have the money for you.
But just to digress a little, many years latter, when I had become famous, this same elder was to vie for the governorship of my state.. Lo and behold, he was advised to come and enlist my support to join his campaign so the youths of the state would be attracted to him. You never can imagine what I replied him. The fact remains that the feeble person you help today might just be your saviour tomorrow.. Story for another day. Such is life ..
Back to my topic ..
Out of frustration, I dusted my certificates and started job hunting .. As God would have it , I secured an appointment in a firm of Chartered Accountants. That was how I began my practice as an auditor. It was from there I saved enough to commence the recording of the award winning song Woekilemo that gave me quite some money and fame .
Now, talking about the syndrome of full time music ministry, I never accepted to leave my job Until I knew that I could not do the both (music and accountancy) simultaneously ..
My music became the rave of the body of Christ then, and I was accepting as much as 8 invitations in one week and in different cities. I knew that I had to be up and doing and I accepted a full time Involvement in my music ministry to keep it alive. I even had international engagements in Europe, North America and other African countries. It was just natural that I engage in this ministry full time and that was how my full time adventure started.
However, after a few years in full time music ministry, I have had to wittingly adjust myself to certain economic realities and I have fully diversified to be able to stand the current..
Now , I do not have to honour a singing engagement to feed my family and I also came to a few realizations.
1. Honorarium cannot make you rich. It can only manage your transient needs even at that, it remains an execrable, pitiable and inconsistent manager. It is actually the blessing of God that maketh rich..
2. Please don’t screw me on this. 98% of full time time gospel musicians in Nigeria are poor people. Forget about all the Effizy and make beliefs. It is all a show.. They are really not Rich. When I say, “Rich”, I am not talking about owning one or two nice cars and a building like most of us do.. I am talking about real riches in comparative terms ..you know what I mean. – A Rich-man doesn’t necessarily have to go to work to eat per time, a rich man doesn’t just have enough to survive for himself , he has more than enough to take care of others.. PLEASE NOTE::I do not , by this write up intend to promote materialism or money consciousness among music ministers. Please don’t quote me out of context. However, on the specific issue of life sustenance and music ministry in Nigeria, I intend to draw your attention to the scary economic statistics for music ministers in Nigeria but that will be in a subsequent write up. But for now, this is my submission.
No one should pursue a full time Gospel music career when the full time Gospel music cannot sustain you.
No one is permitted to pursue a full time Gospel music career if the volume of your musical engagements can allow you ample time to pursue other engagements or occupations.
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Stop embarrassing yourself and by extension the music ministry by your needless and avoidable solicitation that are a product of your economic helplessness.
And even at the level of ministry deals and bargains, Some of us make too much compromises and even accept very miserable, ridiculous and humiliating offers and denigrate the dignity of our calling just because one has to survive..
I noticed one very dangerous trend among church people. If you accept let’s say, N10,000 (ten thousand Naira ) from a church today just to consider the situation because of the circumstances at that time, they never rate you above the vicinity of N10,000 in all your future dealings; forgetting that you were quite considerate and not being unduly money conscious In giving that pricing. They just place a bar on you and expect that your rating should just revolve around that cycle especially when they know you don’t have an option. It will take something extra from above for you to jack up your asking Honourarium even when it is affordable .
That’s d system in which we live.
Dear colleagues, “abeg eat belleful first” so your hallelujah can be a healthy one.
Please look for a money fetching source and manage your music along-sides. Find a job, business or something to live on while u take advantage of the ministerial openings as they come. When the time comes for you to abandon every other thing for music, no one will coerce you. You will know ..
How can you be a full time music minister with just one invitation every month and the honourarium can’t feed you for one week? And you believe that is all there is for you to do? This is the height of foolhardiness.
Apostle Paul was a tent maker, (Act 18:3). That means he had a source of income inspite of his huge follower-ship and impact in the ministry of Evangelism. I think this was his own way of maintaining his dignity and circumventing untold denigration.
Be strategic in your projections. The best way to be regarded as responsible in church today is to add value to church.. And honestly I do not mean to be despicable in my impression of the church. Never you be in a position of mercy or pity to have to depend on d church for your survival. It’s going to have a huge toll on your dignity and happiness ..
To be continued……….
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