Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Music is Life

Written by: on October 31, 2023

In the TV show Ted Lasso, the character Dani Rojas has a catchphrase: “Football is life”. I love the show Ted Lasso. And I adore Dani Rojas’. But I disagree with him.

If I had a catchphrase, it would be “Music is life”. My mom said that when I was born, the doctor was singing to me, and I think it caught. In my earliest memories I was singing and making up songs. I sometimes still sing songs that I “wrote” when I was 3 or 4.

When I hit Middle School, I was writing songs, starting bands, and recording music. That kept going through young adulthood when I fronted Average Joe, a coffee-shop band that featured the infamous drummer, John Fehlen.

To this day, while I play guitar far less (but still have one available at arms-length) and infrequently write songs, I deeply enjoy live music and keep a running soundtrack-of-my-life through apple music and my carefully curated vinyl collection that I spin at home and at work.

All that to say, Jules Glanzer’s The Sound of Leadership[1] was a fun book for me. More than that, it was deeply impacting.

In various ways, it reminded me of a couple of my favorite books.

1. David Byrne, the lead singer of the band Talking Heads, wrote a book called How Music Works[2]. It’s a fascinating and compelling journey through the inception, history, technology, philosophy, economics, and culture of music (as well as partly a Talking Heads/David Byrne biography).

2. Max DePree wrote the book Leadership Is An Art[3] (and a follow-up, Leadership Jazz[4]). Both were the kind of short, punchy books, much like The Sound Of Leadership, that I am often attracted to and inspired by. I just “get” brief, engaging books on leadership that use art as a metaphor (like Max DePree, Steven Pressfield, Austin Kleon, and now Jules Glanzer).

With the recent books we’ve read for this class, like Bebbington, Weber, and Polanyi, I’ve had to work hard to discover a thread on which to pull to write a blog post. While I enjoy reading and engaging with the deeper books, I always seem to revert to, and better put into practice, the simpler ones. The Sound Of Leadership is such a book: Simple, clear, engaging, inspiring, and practical.

Here are a few nuggets (or stanzas) from this book that I just can’t shake:

• Enrolling in God’s School of Music: “(God) has an affinity for selecting the least, the smallest, and the unlikeliest characters, inspiring them with a mission and vision beyond their ability, assigning them a task beyond their capacity, and along the way shaping and molding them to be the influencer he wants them to be. Like a composer, He arranges the notes of their lives, creating a melody complete with harmonic sounds that become a masterpiece for all to enjoy.” (page 40). This sums up so much of my life that I think Glazner might have been reading my journals.

• Prelude; Sound and Leadership Theory: “Sound is the interface between heaven and earth” (page xxvi). This sent me down a rabbit hole of my theology of sound and inspired me to start writing a sermon on why we are called to use our physical voices in worship and prayer.

• Listening to the Voice of One: “It was (Jesus) voice that caused Mary to recognize Him” (page 33). Understanding that people can encounter evidence of resurrection but it’s when they hear Jesus’ voice that they are changed was profound for me (and gave me my Easter sermon for 2025).

• The Sound of Silence “Ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life” (page 116). While I’ve heard this phrase attributed to Dallas Willard before (through the book The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry by John Mark Comer), it was a sobering reminder of the vital principle.

• Playing Your Song: “How a leader deals with a crisis creates a song that multiple stakeholders hear in their heads” (page 53). In crisis I’ve far too often sang the wrong song that becomes an earworm in the heads of those I lead.

There’s so much more! But I’ll have to sing those verses on another day.

I didn’t end up as a professional musician, and that’s ok. I don’t question the pastoral leadership calling I’ve been blessed with. But I resonated so well with Glanzer’s metaphor. There is so much that connects pastoring to music.

While I’ve often thought about how sermon writing is like writing a song, I hadn’t made many of the other connections found in the book between music and my current vocational calling. So, I’m grateful to Glanzer for inviting me into that space, and I intend to revisit his book soon.

Because though I knew that music was life, I also discovered that leadership is music, which makes me a musician, again!


[1] Jules Glanzer, The sound of Leadership: Kingdom Notes to Fine Tune Your Life and Influence (Plano, TX: Invite Press, 2023).

[2] David Byrne, How Music Works (New York: Three River’s Press, 2017).

[3] Max DePree, Leadership is an Art (New York: Doubleday, 2004).

[4] Max DePree, Leadership Jazz: The Essential Elements of a Great Leader (New York: Crown Business, 1992).

About the Author


Tim Clark

I'm on a lifelong journey of discovering the person God has created me to be and aligning that with the purpose God has created me for. I've been pressing hard after Jesus for 40 years, and I currently serve Him as the lead pastor of vision and voice at The Church On The Way in Los Angeles. I live with my wife and 3 kids in Burbank California.

14 responses to “Music is Life”

  1. Kally Elliott says:

    1. I love that you found sermons in this book, especially your Easter sermon for 2025!

    2. I missed the “ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life” quote and will need to go back and re-read (or maybe read for the first time?). I could certainly grow from listening and implementing this advice not only in my leadership but in my life – which, technically, should be the same.

    3. I appreciate the way you wrote this blog post. You might find me copying your format in this post as well. There were several quotes I’d like to engage but my trail of thoughts don’t all go down the same path. This might give me a way to engage with the many ideas this book sparked.

    • mm Tim Clark says:


      1. As I re-read my post I realized that it could seem I was just “using” Glanzer’s book for sermon generating. I don’t usually do that with books, but in this one I happened to come across some things that just resonated and stuck in such a way that it inspired me that way.

      2. I’ve found that Dallas Willard quote about eliminating hurry (ruthlessly) to be so useful and somethign I’m still working towards. I highly encourage you to read John Mark Comers book; honestly one of the most important books I read in the last decade for me, personally.

      3. Thanks for the encouragement. Sometimes I feel like I’m running on fire and just chunking out these posts because I don’t have the time I’d like to ‘wordsmith’. But I guess that’s part of the doctoral process is learning how to communicate when we have so little time to do so.

  2. mm John Fehlen says:

    Being mentioned in your blog as the “infamous drummer” was quite delightful. In the words of my late mother, whom you knew well: “That just warms the cockles of my heart.”

    None of knew what cockles were nor why they needed to warm up.

    Speaking of “warm up”- besides “Average Joe,” I played in a number of local, Midwest bands, and all of them were “warm up bands.” We never headlined anything, well, except one time we were the headlining back at the Osceola (Wisconsin) Fair. My cover band played on the back of a flatbed to the grand total of 8 people – 3 of which were my dad, mom and brother. I guess you could say, we were a pretty big deal.

    Besides that epic event, we were always “warm up bands.” And that is a different gift mix, per se. You have to deflect. You have to prepare people for the headliner. You have to be, here’s my point: a bit like John the Baptist. You prepare the way for the coming King. That requires a different kind of song, intent, and purpose.

    A different kind of song and leadership style.

    Just some musings.

    Let me add a question of you Tim: when have you been a “warm up band” – metaphorically speaking, of course.

    • mm Tim Clark says:

      John, ahhhhhhhh. Only a best friend can ask a question that feels like a knife wound but is actually a scalpel to perform surgery.

      I’ve LITERALLY been in warm up bands in my ‘previous’ life as a singer/songwriter/bass player, but even then I wasn’t a very good opening act. I never liked doing covers and needed to sing my own song, and my goal was to be so compelling/engaging that the crowd would want to hear US more than the headlining act.

      Metaphorically I’ve never been a very good opening act either. I probably would have failed miserably as John the Baptist. When I’ve been on staff roles, I often felt like “I knew better” than the primary leader and eventually needed to go “do my own thing” instead of sticking around to make the other person look great.

      So an admission of pride? Maybe. But conversely I think that in my leadership roles as a primary leader, I try to work really hard to lift up those who serve on my team as well as other primary leaders I encounter. My heart and goal is to input into other leaders things that help them find something about themselves and their leadership that is amazing, compelling, encouraging, inspiring, etc.

      So maybe in that way I’m warming others up. But in other ways I’m an attention hog. Me and my “other best friend” Bono have that in common. 🙂

  3. Travis Vaughn says:

    You and Fehlen in a band together…okay so that now explains a lot, and doesn’t surprise me at all.

    You referenced Glanzer, stating, “Playing Your Song: ‘How a leader deals with a crisis creates a song that multiple stakeholders hear in their heads.'” Having read Kim Sanford’s post right before I read yours, I’m now wondering… “What ‘song(s)’ did I leave in the heads of my children, now that they are adults?” (Kim wrote about how important modeling is…leading by influence) I think that actually might be a great question to ask them when they all come home for Christmas.

    Music is such a huge part of our family, and it is often the subject of conversation I have even today with our adult kids. It was only this morning that I asked our daughter about a song she referenced in an interview she had for her new position at work. And it was only a few hours ago that I asked my boys via text if they thought a particular song on Blink 182’s new album sounded like old Box Car Racer. At any rate, I’d love to pick up David Byrne’s book — perhaps in 1.5 years.

  4. mm Kim Sanford says:

    Great post, Tim. You highlight a lot of Glanzer’s inspiring wisdom, but the thing that stuck out for me was your mention of the Voice of the One. “It was (Jesus’) voice that caused Mary to recognize Him.” I’ve always loved that bit in the gospel story and more than once I’ve been moved to tears thinking about how Jesus chose to reveal himself to Mary when he rose from the dead. A woman was the first to bear witness to Jesus’ resurrection! May we all recognize His voice and use our voices to bear witness.

    • mm Tim Clark says:

      I LOVE that Jesus first revealed himself to a woman, and that a woman was the first witness of a resurrected Jesus. I’ve spent my ministry life trying to recognize that fact and lead in such a way that empowers women to recognize their worth as evangelists, pastors, teachers, and leaders. It’s one of my core principles as I am benefited by being in a denomination that was started by a woman and the descendant of a woman evangelist who traveled the nation holding tent revivals in the 1800’s.

  5. Jennifer Vernam says:


    I like how you covered this book; its fun to see how colleagues are applying the here and there gems we are picking up in our reading. Here is one that I missed in the book and was happy to get from your post:

    “’How a leader deals with a crisis creates a song that multiple stakeholders hear in their heads’. In crisis I’ve far too often sang the wrong song that becomes an earworm in the heads of those I lead.”

    I have stories about how I saw leaders show up in my organization during COVID that compel me still today. The manner in which my leaders conducted themselves over that period made me trust them and want to continue working with them. That saying about how you can learn a lot about someone by how they respond to hot water seems to apply here.

    Thanks for sharing!

  6. mm Tim Clark says:

    Thanks Jen… I wish I could say that over Covid I conducted myself as that kind of leader, but I fear that I ultimately did not.

    We were going through the global pandemic crisis and the national political crisis at the same time we were organizationally going through a personnel crisis. I got to a breaking point I didn’t realize I was at until after I broke.

    So now I’m slowly (because it’s slow work) rebuilding trust as we engage new crisis’ that pop up (because there is always a crisis around the next corner).

  7. Adam Harris says:

    First, love that you are so in to music. I LOVE music as well. Half of the time I have some kind of music playing in the background, mainly melodic EDM. lol

    “Sound is the interface between heaven and earth” (page xxvi). This sent me down a rabbit hole of my theology of sound and inspired me to start writing a sermon on why we are called to use our physical voices in worship and prayer.

    This is something I would love to hear more about. Sound and vibrations are fascinating subjects. One of the people I interviewed about his near death experience years ago explained God as the “master vibration” in the universe. We can live more in tune with that vibration of love (Christ) or not. Looking forward to hearing more about that theology.

    • mm Tim Clark says:

      Thanks Adam… when I said I started writing a sermon, I really meant “I jotted some thoughts down on a note app I keep to organize sermon ideas and research”.

      So not quite worked out yet.

      On another note, I JUST discovered lo-fi as a genre (I know… I’m old and don’t always keep up) and I love finding something new to dive into.

  8. mm Jana Dluehosh says:

    I still have memory of seeing a picture of you:). I love your connecting music as brought to us by Glanzer and bringing it to your pulpit. My husband loves Jazz, and while I like certain styles of it, what drives me most crazy in the messy, unpredictable improvisation. I live my life in a bit of chaos and spontaneity and it didn’t make sense to him until he figured out that I like chaos and improvisation when it’s well-boundried! Seems like good rules for leadership too:). Keep Rockin’ on friend!

    • mm Tim Clark says:

      Oh, I love Jazz too, and my wife….well, not so much a fan. She says it’s frantic and doesn’t feel like it’s going anywhere. I love the unpredictable spontaneity, the combination of the instruments, and the musicianship.

      But I love your leadership rule: well bounded chaos and improv. Write a book. I’ll buy it!!!

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