As we look forward to the Levite Summit in a few weeks, I thought it would be a great time to publish this awesome interview I did with Jon. Enjoy!!
Worship Leader Life Podcast Episode 2
Jon Buller: 00:00:04 Psalm 78-72 is a great little, little line for that too. David Led with skillful hands and a pure heart. So the if the heart outweighs the skill then something's out of whack and it, or if the skill is out of whack with the heart, you know, a presentation from someone that's so good, but sort of feel like if it didn't connect to you, like you weren't able to God somehow.
Stephen Toon: 00:00:37 It's been so good. So rich for me personally, like, gosh, I just decided while you're speaking there, I just thought I got to do this at least once a week with somebody because it's feeding me and I'm learning from it. Like, and then I get to listen to it again. Sorry. What's that?
Jon Buller: 00:00:57 That's really good. I agree. Yeah,
Stephen Toon: 00:00:59 yeah. Like a
Jon Buller: 00:01:00 relationship, right?
Stephen Toon: 00:01:02 Totally. Totally.
Narration: 00:01:04 Hi, welcome to worship leader life podcast. I'm your host Stephen Toon and we are here to disciple worship leaders.
Stephen Toon: 00:01:19 On today show we have the amazing Jon Buller, an awesome guy. I absolutely love this podcast episode. I loved talking to Jon and, just in editing it, I listened to it again and I got so much out of it. There are so many clips that I wanted to take as sort of the highlights and put at the beginning. But uh, I had to limit to two, normally just one. But today I had to do two. So a lot of you are gearing up or some of you are gearing up to attend the Levite Summit that's coming up at the very beginning of March 2019 in Kelowna, British Columbia. And that's that's Jon's event and he along with a lot of amazing volunteers and teachers, speakers, musicians are about to rock your world. So here is an interview with Jon Buller and I just, I love this. Have a listen. Enjoy it.
Jon Buller: 00:02:25 Okay. Stephen Toon Jon Buller, take two.
Stephen Toon: 00:02:28 Yeah, take two. Take final take, I hope. Okay. So we are good. We are live or recording. Very excited. I'm very excited to talk to my friend Jon. We don't know each other super well, but we've played together, uh, once he had me join him playing some guitar for a conference. He was leading at a while ago, a couple of years ago I guess. And uh, I just had an awesome time. Really, good time, both musically and just as far as the, your heart and just the spirit of the whole event and our time together. So that was cool. So I thought this is a guy I want to interview and a big part of why I want to interview you is that you are also pouring into, you know, worship leaders, local church leaders, songwriters, artists. You are all about that with what you're doing. And maybe you can tell us a little bit about Levite summit and your music and your history. How'd you get started? What's your story? I mean in a nutshell, not that you can, we can but we can't really fit you in a nutshell. That's not fair. But, you know, give, give us, give us your favorite points of how you came up as a songwriter, musician, worship leader now you know, a mentor.
Jon Buller: 00:03:55 Yeah. Well thank you so much. First of all, Steve for inviting me to conversation. That's, I'm excited as well and honored and privileged and it's pretty neat to hear what's developing. Uh, I think it's great.
Stephen Toon: 00:04:11 Right on
Jon Buller: 00:04:13 So, congrats and thank you for having me.
Stephen Toon: 00:04:15 Congrats to you too.
Jon Buller: 00:04:17 All right.
Stephen Toon: 00:04:18 As well here, as well here. The last couple of years have been fun for you. Hey.
Jon Buller: 00:04:22 Mutual appreciation for sure.
Stephen Toon: 00:04:24 Yeah.
Jon Buller: 00:04:25 Yeah right now we're working at something called the Levites summit. And I guess, you know, it's just cool to reflect on how God works in our lives, right. And how the things that happened to us and our stories are kind of always preparing us for things that, you know, perhaps we dream of and work towards and wished for and feel called to. But we're still totally surprised by how he's constantly working and
Stephen Toon: 00:05:04 yeah.
Jon Buller: 00:05:04 For gaining things. So yeah, right now, Levite summit is my thing. I work for a nonprofit ministry called Hear the music ministries, and we do, yeah, we gather and equip and train people. This conference that we've been doing for five years in Kelowna, which is expanding now to Red Deer this year. So I have two conferences of the same sort of nature and then, yeah, just a bunch of, you know, some of the similar stuff that you're doing, you know, coaching and mentoring, individuals and, or visiting churches and leading and participating in working with them to contribute to their worship services and stuff.
Stephen Toon: 00:05:53 Right on
Jon Buller: 00:05:55 So that's sort of the like snapshot of the current picture. Levitesummit.com for people that are interested in finding out more about the conference and it is a great conference. I'm really, you know, proud of how I think contributing to people's lives, but also the sort of spiritual and pastoral care that happens there in the ministry, to the tribe of artists and musicians and leaders. So yeah, it really good. But yeah, rewind 20 years or more, I guess. Well even like, just as a young person growing up in Winnipeg, other than in Vernon, BC now, but in Winnipeg, you know, there's definitely something in the water, in the culture in Winnipeg towards the arts and, in that city, for whatever reason, a lot of people say it's, you know, the climate, causes you to either get really into sports or get really into music cause it gets just so cold in winter time.
Stephen Toon: 00:07:10 Yeah.
Jon Buller: 00:07:10 It's something. Right. But, you know,
Stephen Toon: 00:07:12 I would just school in Regina and we used to get a musician, like I played there too, and there's a lot of music there, but we used to get a lot of musicians from Winnipeg coming and we would say the same thing. Like, man, it's similar to here, but there's something, there's almost like more in your water. Y
Jon Buller: 00:07:32 Yeah. Perhaps.
Stephen Toon: 00:07:33 Right on.
Jon Buller: 00:07:34 Oh, yeah. And definitely, I come by honestly, the love for music that is with my family musical background and the family. And Mennonite culture wrap in a small Mennonite church. Everybody sing and they play as everybody does harmony, even if they, you know, don't necessarily consider themselves musical or parts and all that kind of stuff. Singing from the hymnal. And yeah, when I was in high school, I had a Sunday school teacher actually who had a little recording studio and he would invite us, ask musicians from the church to hang out there once a week and we'd go play and write songs. And when I got to university, I was actually in business school, I'm taking a commerce degree at University of Manitoba. And that same teacher, he said to me, hey, you know, I've got 30 hours of free recording time at another studio in town. That's bigger and more professional is actually Steve Bell's studio, Steve's manager now Dave and, he said, yeah, they have this, this time that hasn't been used. Do you want it? Why not? Yeah. Heck yeah. I would love to do that and work with a producer and there. So that was my first sort of real recording experience beyond, you know, basement four track recording, which was sort of, you know, the, the tech and the day before. Totally logic and pro tools and all of the,
Stephen Toon: 00:09:24 Yeah. What were they running at the studio at like at the one that you got time at?
Jon Buller: 00:09:32 Yeah, it was a 24 track, two inch tape.
Stephen Toon: 00:09:35 Oh, nice. Right on
Jon Buller: 00:09:36 And analog. And so it was really interesting experience, right? Because now we edit, like we edit you know, word, document If you don't Benton's he'd take it out, you put something in, you just click and move and if we, and we did this, if there was a tape that was great as one little part that you didn't like, you actually, you know, manipulated the tape or even cut and tape. And it was just incredible that kind of like the literal analog editing he did. Which is the same principle now, but much, much easier.
Stephen Toon: 00:10:20 Yeah. Well that's cool.
Jon Buller: 00:10:22 Pretty cool. I don't know, I guess that dates things, but nowadays people sort of long for those sort of sounds and the warm stuff, tape and stuff like that. Anyway. Yeah. So I've been doing it for awhile. I was attending a church, kind of a hip cool church at the time called the meeting place. And when I finished my, I gave it to the worship leaders there and they called me that afternoon I think and said, hey, this is great. Why don't you come and play? And I was just pumped to be part of something that was exciting and that was, you know, modern music and, you know, we, we could really rock out. And so that was, that was a blast. And my college university years, while I was taking my business degree and when I graduated from business, I spent the last, basically the last year of my time in university booking, trying to book a tour. So I had taken half a year off to go on a mission trip across Canada with a group called youth mission international, which is the Mennonite brother. And, missions thing, Canada at the time. And so I had met a bunch of pastors and leaders in western Canada and went back to school, finished my business degree, and just phoned up all these guys and I said, Hey, I'm Jon. You remember me?
Stephen Toon: 00:11:58 Right on.
Jon Buller: 00:11:58 You know, I charge 250 bucks and I'm coming to do a concert.
Stephen Toon: 00:12:04 Awesome.
Jon Buller: 00:12:04 Yeah. I had a Honda civic and I had for like a light tree with four lights and a mixer and couples speakers and, filled up my Honda civic and hit the road western Canada. And that was, that was what I did.
Stephen Toon: 00:12:22 Right on
Jon Buller: 00:12:23 I'm not just grew from there to touring for about 10 years. Yeah, try and make this a long story kind of a bit shorter.
Stephen Toon: 00:12:34 No, it's good. It's good, man.
Jon Buller: 00:12:34 So I toured a bit, toured a lot I toured full time. And then whenever I came home I was kind of developing I guess a community of musicians and Winnipeg. We started doing monthly worship events that groove to a sort of citywide thing. Some of the people in Winnipeg that were doing that before me in a sense handed the baton to me and I took it and we would rent the local theater in Winnipeg and just a whole bunch of people would come. And again, that music culture in Winnipeg, at the time, there was just something special happening with the worship stuff. And it was just a really exciting time in our city for the city to come together and worship, but also musicians to want to be together and learn together. So what I noticed was that I was kind of accidentally, mentoring and training people and we would kind of have, yeah, everybody just kind of want it to be around hear the music night, that seemed so we decided to get more intentional about that and founded the charity. You're the music night and yeah, I kept touring and but tried to build this sort of, equipping thing, which is what it's come to be, you know, moved to BC. I was offered a job. I met a lot of pastors when I toured. One of them was with Stuart McKnight here in Vernon alliance. And he invited me to come out. So that's a whole other piece of the story. But the hear the music and the Levite summit, which I've returned to now that's, that's how that all came to be.
Stephen Toon: 00:14:30 That's cool man. So in some ways you're, I don't know, you could call it full circle or something, but it's like, in some ways it looks like you're doing something new, but really you're a continuing, it's like a part two or something.
Jon Buller: 00:14:49 Yeah, it really is mean. It's different. The difference is that, I was really focused and felt called to being a recording artist and a worship leader. And then the mentoring and the equipping was kind of the thing that happened along with it. But now the mentoring and equipping is the, I think the actual call and the vision and the recording and songwriting is the tool to do that. So just sort of flipped around.
Stephen Toon: 00:15:28 Yeah.
Jon Buller: 00:15:30 You know, I came to Vernon, I was really weary from 10 years of being on the road and I was just so ready to just invest in a local community. And I found a passion for the local church that I didn't know that I had. And so we had 12 years of just such beautiful, meaningful, spiritual formation and learning with Vernon Alliance church that I'm forever grateful for. And then I've just really seemed like, okay, it's time to now step out of that again. And I would be disobedient if I didn't listen to God saying, I want you to keep doing what you're doing, but I want you to do it. You know, and maybe a different, it's going to look a little different now again. So that's, yeah, that was the thing we felt we needed to do. My wife and I was to resign and go back to the nonprofit, but we're still in Vernon and we still go to VAC and we're really part of a, still a rich community and kind of, these conferences thrive here, so...
Stephen Toon: 00:16:46 Hey and so can't help it. Got my pastor hat on now, pastor to pastor, what was that like, you know, leaving the position but staying there? Like, did you take a break from worshiping there?
Jon Buller: 00:17:02 Yeah, we took a little break I mean, I guess to be honest, my family didn't, my family really just, we all love the church and and our relationship and, so, I just, I kind a laid low personally, still kind of trying to plug in to different, things in places for my spiritual health. But yeah, just kind of laid low, for two or three months and returned back on a regular basis now. So
Stephen Toon: 00:17:40 Yeah, right on.
Jon Buller: 00:17:41 The one thing,
Stephen Toon: 00:17:43 Oh sorry go ahead.
Jon Buller: 00:17:43 Go ahead Steph
Stephen Toon: 00:17:44 Oh, I just was going to say, yeah, like, I mean, we moved here a year ago and I needed a break. But in the end, you know, we, the church where we fell into, it's an alliance church. I was alliance pastor as well. And, so I thought, well, I'm in a whole different town, so I just wonder what it was like for you to shift gears like that, but being the same town and now same community. But that's, that's great. That's good. They kind of gave you that space and
Jon Buller: 00:18:16 Yeah, it's been good. It's different, you know, you go and you observe the service and the mechanics and you kind of knowing what I know about how it comes together behind the scenes gives me a different perspective. The weekend services. But yeah, they're doing such good things at VAC. So I mean, for me, the thing that probably the most challenging thing was having the same rhythm in my life for 12 years, every weekend. Knowing what you're going to do basically on Tuesday and what you're going to do, but we on Wednesday and what you're going to feel like on Saturday and Sunday after, you know, and knowing how September is going to go and knowing that he ramp up to Christmas and knowing there's a drop zone in January and you know, all the seasonal rhythms and you know, all the weekly rhythms and your body and your psychology and your spirit and everything about you is it gets really used to that. And so we remove all of that structure, completely, like all at once. Wait till the next has to. It took me a long time to shift out of that and back into sort of entrepreneurial of, you know, raising your support and I'm not having the same week every week and all that kinds of stuff on challenge, but it's good, it's fresh. It's fun to have that flexibility and variety. And yeah, it's exciting and challenging.
Stephen Toon: 00:20:07 Yeah. They tell me, did you ever think this? Like, this is how, one of the things I said to Lisa, my wife, before we moved, just over a year ago, I said, you know, I, this is a good thing for me because I was a pastor, you know, in the same role, worship and arts for five and a half years, at a church in Prince George. And, and I was like, I need to take a break from pastoring to make sure that I've, to make sure that I'm doing this, not just because it's my job and it's that, rhythm that I've been doing for 18 years. And I don't mean like, you know, it wasn't like I was, I, it wasn't that I was having doubts are wrestling with my faith or anything like that. But because, you know, the routine and the practice of, I mean, yeah, just like, like you just said, the weekly routine and you're just in this life and, there's only so many ways you can kind of try to make it fresh again for yourself. So like I recommend to anybody in any line of work, you know, if you can take a break, take a sabbatical, take a shake your head a bit, get into a different routine. And because what it did for me and you know, it, I got to sort of prove to myself that, okay, yeah, I worship and I, I have a relationship with the Lord, not just because it's my job, you know, because I think that's a fear. I think for some folks in ministry that, you know, you don't want to become the professional Christian and, lose touch with the fact that you're a person and you're a disciple yourself. And but anyways, that's a whole other topic. But I just think that's great. You know, you got your into it and how do you feel like, well, how long has it been a year and a half. Two years?
Jon Buller: 00:22:13 Yeah, about a year and a half. Now.
Stephen Toon: 00:22:14 Do you have your, do you have a new rhythm, a new routine or,
Jon Buller: 00:22:19 You know what? Honestly, it's still taking shape. The first year was, it was kinda like, okay, I got to hit the ground running and make sure this thing works. And, there's a bit of you know, there's a bit of a thing where maybe we don't want to admit it, but you, you want to prove it
Stephen Toon: 00:22:41 right.
Jon Buller: 00:22:42 Everybody around you. Right. So,
Stephen Toon: 00:22:44 Yeah,
Jon Buller: 00:22:45 Being totally vulnerable here, but I thought, you know, I got to, you know, work really hard and, that way I can sort of know that this was the right thing to do. So I'm not, I'm not totally convinced that that's healthy. But on the other hand, you know, when you're starting something new essentially, or restarting something. Yeah and you want to put your nose to the grindstone and giver. And so I, and that's what I tried to do. So that first year was really busy, but I also, you know, in a sense was blindsided and I probably shouldn't have been by, how challenging it is to sometimes make a transition after such a long season at one thing.
Stephen Toon: 00:23:34 Yeah.
Jon Buller: 00:23:35 So I actually needed to just sort of recover.
Stephen Toon: 00:23:37 Yeah.
Jon Buller: 00:23:38 Not that there is something to recover from in that sense. I don't mean it that way, but you need sort of okay, like you say, take a breath and debrief yourself and learn some lessons and reflect on the past and look to the future. And so the first year was really like a combination of like, okay, let's hit it hard and also, oh, holy smokes, I need to really just push the pause button on, realize that this doesn't all have to happen or outright away.
Stephen Toon: 00:24:13 Yeah.
Jon Buller: 00:24:14 I don't have to enact this vision and have everything takes shape immediately. So yeah, so there was a bit of a balancing and there's lots of learnings in the first year and I did a lot more traveling than I thought I would and but that was okay. It was good to do that where the second year has been, taking shape is less traveling and less connecting with the churches and than gigs and worship workshops and stuff, and actually developing the vision of the larger conferences. And I'm, so that's a whole different ball of wax because it requires a different sort of financial planning. Perhaps it's a little bit more risky because you're building the conference model and you can't guarantee a lot of the things that you didn't know what to expect when he, when you travel and have a fee and stuff.
Stephen Toon: 00:25:22 Yeah.
Jon Buller: 00:25:22 So it's, it's a little bit scarier. I think probably if I'm being honest this year it's because we're taking more risks, but we really feel convicted that that's what we're supposed to do now instead of doing what we kind of know and can have more solid expectations were kind of pushing a into places that we haven't necessarily gone to before. Out of obedience to the Lord. So we'll see.
Stephen Toon: 00:25:57 Right on. So you're talking a little bit about it already, what's happening for you in the season? I think, you know, oh, I know what I was going to ask you. So when you say we, you have a good team surrounding you. I'm assuming you've got like board of directors and, do you ha, do you have a staff, like how big is your organization right now? I mean, I know you're kind of the primary guy right?
Jon Buller: 00:26:25 Yes, pretty lean. Having an administrator, and myself, so like about one and a half-ish staff, I guess right on, I'm a great board of directors. Yes. It's a registered charity in. So we're required to have that, but I wouldn't want to do it even if I wouldn't want to do it any other way, even if it wasn't required.
Stephen Toon: 00:26:51 Yeah.
Jon Buller: 00:26:51 You get people around you that can support you, keep you accountable. You know, carry some of the load, pray, lead and guide and then, yeah, like countless volunteers and ministry partners. Like Levite Summit in Kelowna, you know, involves, three or four different churches. Metro, Trinity, Willow Park we kind of have a joint planning committee. All these guys are working in the churches except for me. And then a whole network of incredible volunteers to help us make the events happen.
Stephen Toon: 00:27:38 That's awesome, man. That's great.
Jon Buller: 00:27:40 Yeah.
Stephen Toon: 00:27:45 Tell us what are some of your, like how will we get into just some of the soul care and pastoral side and worship leading stuff if that's okay?
Jon Buller: 00:27:57 Absolutely.
Stephen Toon: 00:27:58 What are some of the, your, your go tos, your priorities for your life, for taking care of yourself, soul care. I think when I wrote this question, oh yeah here, in other words, how do you cultivate a balanced life that allows you to fulfill your call as a worship leader? Which kind of relates to that later question that I sent you yesterday. You know, like you're you, you're unique and you know, you've already talked a little bit about your, I guess your thresholds or in seasons and things that you've needed. So what are your go-tos like, how did you, when you realized you needed some, I forgot what you said. What did you say? Recovery, even though it wasn't, you weren't recovering from something, but in your transition and even now today, like what are some of your go-tos?
Jon Buller: 00:28:55 Yeah, that's a great question. I mean, first of all, that's what I love about Levite Summit is that, it is an equipping conference, but we're really intentional about the prayer ministry and a spiritual care and formation of the folks that come. Right? So a lot of people actually turn up at Levite summit just knowing that they're needing a blessing, right?
Stephen Toon: 00:29:23 Yeah.
Jon Buller: 00:29:24 In some life and some care and needing to learn some of those lessons again. And so I would encourage anyone, even if they feel like they're doing pretty good in terms of their skills or whatever, but need to be filled up, that you can find that, at Levite Summit, and for me, probably most recently what I've been learning and realizing is this whole piece of, you know, what's a Levite and who, who am I called to be by God? And the really the heart of that is intimacy with them. And so, I am responsible to find that and build that and be intentional about that. And I love how the Old Testament and the New Testament basically can occur, you know, and not the, you can read like one of the my go-tos and is the John 15 abide, abiding stuff, you know, and I can do nothing apart from Christ. And to abide is to be grafted in, to abide is to be so close that you can't be any closer, to abide is to actually become one with the other things so that there's not two. There's actually one, right?
Stephen Toon: 00:31:01 Yeah.
Jon Buller: 00:31:02 So that's Jesus' teaching us that that's who we're meant to be is to be grafted into him. But, the Israelite's had the same call. And one of the best Hebrew words that teaches us that is the word Yada. And that word is used all over the place and the Hebrew scriptures and we know it as knowledge. So, the Proverb, in all your ways acknowledge him, that where it is Yada. Let me think. In Genesis, Adam knew eve and they conceived that word is Yada. So it can and conveys a deep intimacy and annoying. And actually the word that's often used to describe the Levitical tribe, the priests and the musicians and the temple servants is Yada. And so we can know from that for example, in the Psalms we read this song is for the chief musician. And then there were various guys, right, that were named, those guys were described as and called to Yada. So they were called to, being a chief musician, which didn't just mean that they were good at music or priestly duties, if meant that they were good at excellent at being intimate with God. So that's to be known by him and to know him in such a deep way that when you do another a word from the songs, Selah when you stop and listen and pause and God's presence, you're so good at knowing Him that you can hear Him well and you can hear what he's calling you to and you can be the prophet or you can prophesy as they were called to do at that time. And now we're a priesthood. We're taught right by Paul that were up a priesthood. So we are those people now a holy nation called to do the same thing now that they did then, which is to be intimate with God. So that's kind of where I'm at. And to say all that is, not to say that I'm good at it, but to say it is to say I'll walk, to be and trying and, I failed. But that that's where I'm at right now. If there was one thing that I had to talk about, that would be the drum that I'm banging these days.
Stephen Toon: 00:34:03 That's awesome. Yeah. I mean, I remember, probably late nineties. I think when Brian Doerksen I can't remember if he had come back from England and he was overseeing, vineyard worship. And I remember hearing him talk a few times about his philosophy of worship being all about intimacy. And on the one hand, I got it, I totally agreed, but I also had this like, I dunno if it was left over from growing up in the Evangelical Church with, you know, I don't know, legalism and, just being driven by our brains and, and reason and logic and, but I wanted to not push back against the intimate part of what he was saying, but say, but there's gotta be more, there's more, there's more. But the older I get and you know, obviously the more I studied and it is, it's really about intimacy because all the other stuff happens in that intimacy too, right? Like, so it's not, and I dunno, I just love that. That's great. I love how you put it. I love, I love how you articulated that. That's,
Jon Buller: 00:35:23 I think what you're saying is right though. There is more, um, more stems out of that. Yeah. Right? So like if for not pursuing, pursuing him, then the whole, like that whole Selah thing of pausing in God's presence and listening. What you notice in the psalms is that whenever there is a Selah, there's a shift in the story,
Stephen Toon: 00:35:54 Right?
Jon Buller: 00:35:55 There's a shift in the poetry, right? So it'd be something like, oh, I can't believe what's happening to me. I'm surrounded by sadness. I, you know, this is, life is too challenging for me. And then there's a Selah and then there's a shift after the Selah. Yet I will praise the Lord. Yet I know that my God is great, right? So what's happening is that the Israelites are there worshiping and, and it was written out of this, but by an individual, but it was written for corporate worship. And so the Israelite's then would have been using that song as a worship song and obeying the musical and spiritual direction of the song. When it comes to that spot and saying, why are we suffering? And then they see a lot of the weight and they listen to God and they experienced that intimacy and out of that intimacy, then they respond. Then they worship at another level, at a deeper place. They hear from him. And I think that's why I, I like what, how you're responding is to say, yeah, there's intimacy but there's more because there is more because in the intimacy lesson and then you responded maybe, maybe that's what we're supposed to try and figure out, you know, in our worship now.
Stephen Toon: 00:37:28 Yeah. And I don't, I mean I think we see with, I mean I look at like Brian's teaching it, but he wasn't saying that was everything. But you know, I wanted, I dunno, in my younger years I wanted to just make sure I wasn't getting anything wrong or, or missing something or you know, but that's exactly it. That's exactly it. It's get clothes, be able to listen and obey. Like I love that. Like you, you follow the spiritual direction. That's going to be one of the quotes from this follow a spiritual direction of the psalm or of the liturgy, you know, that's huge. I think some, I don't know, it's just got me thinking like that's something we can work on his worship leaders too, is helping people to understand when we create a service, there are pointers, there's little hints to them like, okay, we're going this way now. And you know, it's not like we're not like barking orders at them, but like this is a way that we're all, yeah. Follow the spiritual direction of the blank, whatever it is. Right. Got me thinking about psalm 73 two. That's probably my favorite and I, I'm just looking at right now because I can't remember if there is a Selah in there, but there, there should be at the turnaround, you know, when he's like everybody, you know, when he says, if I had, oh, what's the words? Uh,
Jon Buller: 00:39:03 I'm using the passion these days, so it's different,
Stephen Toon: 00:39:08 right? Is it 73? Yeah, I think it is. Anyways, I don't have, I'm looking at it, the NRSV and there's no little extras in there. So, but I love that the Turner on the like. You listened to the Voice of God and you respond accordingly and that's good. So oh, sorry.
Jon Buller: 00:39:32 Yeah, no, I was just going to say add to that you know, we in our worship now we plan for Selah's we might not call it that, but we plan for that. But we also have them when they're not planned. Right?
Stephen Toon: 00:39:50 Yeah.
Jon Buller: 00:39:50 And so I imagine that probably happened in Israelite worship with the songs. So when you say there's not a Selah but there should be, I was going to say, I bet there probably was
Stephen Toon: 00:40:05 Yeah.
Jon Buller: 00:40:06 Oh, we'd better stop here for a bit. Even though it doesn't say that we have to, you still can, you know.
Stephen Toon: 00:40:12 Yeah.
Jon Buller: 00:40:15 Some flexibility I think in our worship to do that. And I think it can still have structure and intentionality in our services, but also have some openness to those moments where we think we we got to stop and listen or whatever.
Stephen Toon: 00:40:32 Yeah, well I mean in between verse 14 and 15 this is in psalm 73 there is a break in the, as far as how they've, how they've printed the text. You know and he says all in vain, I've kept my heart clean. He's talking about how, how great everyone else has it, you know, those who aren't following God, like look at how easy their lives are. And then he says for all day long I've been plagued and I'm punished every morning because he's trying to stay clean. And he's like, what the, what's the point? Right. And then the big turnaround, there's this like slight break on the page. And then if I'd said this, I will, if I, if I decide to go this way, basically I would have been untrue to the circle of your children. But when I thought how to understand this, it seemed to be aware where you some tasks, it's like, it's this cool little, like, it's almost like there is a Selah but we're, he's telling us about it because he realizes he's on the wrong track. But it seems worrisome to think about this, you know, and until I went to the sanctuary of God. Yeah. Anyway, sorry. All right.
Jon Buller: 00:41:39 Exactly. Yeah.
Stephen Toon: 00:41:41 Do you have, you talked a little bit about your experience in Winnipeg and how awesome that was a growing a community and doing those events. Do you have any key stories or experiences, as far as, you know, corporate worship, times maybe you were leading worship or involved in a service, story, just, you know, stakes in the ground or, experiences that really fueled your journey along the way?
Jon Buller: 00:42:11 Yeah, yeah, absolutely. Definitely do. One, kind of, that I remember that I think is maybe helpful to share for other people wherever they're at on their during, was a time that where I was kind of in a building stage and I had some friends that were having success and I, and it was, I was happy for them and proud of them, but frustrated that I wasn't sharing the same perceived success in my music and ministry, I guess. And I always remember, well from time to time I think about the delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart thing and what that actually means. And I don't think I always really took that to heart in the way that it should be. Which is I think largely that the desires of your heart become, his desires are his desires become yours. You know, as you get closer to him, as you build that intimacy that we've been talking about today.
Stephen Toon: 00:43:32 Yeah.
Jon Buller: 00:43:33 And so it's, it's not about the desires of your heart getting what you want. It's about actually falling in love with the Lord. And when you do that, then you want what he wants happens. Right? The example is that I experienced to us I was at this awards thing. And I think it's at Regina or Saskatoon at the big fancy local theater there performing arts theater.
Stephen Toon: 00:44:06 Right.
Jon Buller: 00:44:07 Remember the name of it. And, um, I was nominated for a Christian music and I didn't win and some friends of mine received it and you know, it's all good for them.
Stephen Toon: 00:44:19 Yeah.
Jon Buller: 00:44:21 But I thought I just, I coveted that the stage and I coveted that accolade, that affirmation.
Stephen Toon: 00:44:30 Yeah.
Jon Buller: 00:44:32 And I thought, you know, I wish I could have been playing on that stage because they got to perform.
Stephen Toon: 00:44:36 Yeah.
Jon Buller: 00:44:37 And moved on, you know, went on with my life. A couple of months later, I was on tour with a college tour that was doing a whole bunch of cities across Canada and the venue that we had for the event in Saskatoon was a church, one of the large churches at the last minute. They had to change the venue and they change the vent. And I was the guest musician on the tour. So we would show up and set up all the college booths and I would do a show. And that was the thing, you know, to bring students down and see you good music thing and then get exposed to all these colleges that they could potentially attend. So they changed the menu from the church. And guess what venue they changed it to you? They changed the, the Saskatoon performing arts. Right. And so I did get to play on that stage, but I played on that stage as a, you know, as a worship artist on this tour that I was on and not in the way that I had expected or hoped, but actually in the way that my heart desired. And so it, and it doesn't always happen that way, Steve, but this time I, I kind of felt like it was God saying, see, you know, if he just do what I'm calling you to do, you know, from time to time, these things are gonna happen where you'll see, yeah, but the desires of your heart are, or things that I want to give to you. But you need to just like the words, the trust in the Lord with all your heart and all these things, you know, be added on to you. And so yeah, so that's, that's kind of one of the, one of the memories I have. And I'm tempted to share another one that's, so I think I will.
Stephen Toon: 00:46:38 Yeah I know, go for it.
Jon Buller: 00:46:40 When I had the blessing of going on Sabbatical a few years ago while I was still at VAC and I thought, you know, one of the goals I had was to write a lot of music because I was going to have all this time available to me to do that. And the first day that I have my first day of Sabbatical. I was overwhelmed with anxiety and I just kinda sat on the couch and I look at, you know, would look at my guitar and didn't even want to pick it up. And I would sit at the piano and try and play something and there's just nothing in the tank. And I thought, what is going on with me? I have all the in the world now. You know, where, where is it? Is it gone? And I actually was genuinely worried that the artistic thing was gone.
Stephen Toon: 00:47:44 Yeah.
Jon Buller: 00:47:45 That was done. And I was reading a book, I was reading a couple books at the time. I was reading a book called adrenaline and stress by Archie Heart. And I was reading a book by Mark Buchanan called Spiritual Rhythms. And a couple of things that those books have, they're totally different books, but there's a couple of things that they have in common and that is this idea of seasons and creativity and trying to restore that. And what happens in the different seasons? Fall, winter, spring, summer is a picture of our lives, right? And so in the winter things look and perhaps feel dreary. The nights are longer. Trees are bearing fruit. You know, you prune stuff, stuff's getting cut off. It looks dead, but it's not dead. But there is a spring and the thing that you don't know is when it's coming, but the thing is that it is,
Stephen Toon: 00:48:57 Yeah.
Jon Buller: 00:48:58 So you always know that season will change you just don't know when. And so I realized at that time, okay I could consider the fact that I'm in winter and that if you ask a tree in winter to give you fruit, the tree would just laugh at you. You know, like if you were in Narnia, where treats actually do talk, have a conversation with a talking tree. The tree would say, what's winter? I don't do, I don't do fruit in winter. And so as an artist, I think it's worth remembering that it doesn't mean you can't be creative and winter that good things don't happen in winter, but that it's okay to not be bearing fruit in winter. And that the other piece, the Archie Heart piece from this Adrenalin book I was reading is that you can't expect anything to grow unless you create the conditions for growth. So if you've lived in a way that you know, where you're pushing your body and your spirit on a regular basis and you're not recovering properly and you're having these adrenaline spikes and maybe you're not resting properly, you're not taking those Sabbat's whatever. There is nothing's going to grow. And that's this kind of the state that I found myself in at the time. That I think a lot of professionals or ministry people or people just in general find themselves living in such a way as they're surviving and then they sort of expect there to be something there or they can just turn it on again. But you can't be, if you haven't created any of the conditions, you know to try and land this whole story. The the whole point of conclusion is, okay, then what do you need to do to create the conditions for life and growth? And if you're in winter and spring is coming, you know, what are, what are you going to do? And I realized that I, my job wasn't to instantly be creative. My job was to simply to create the conditions for creativity to thrive, which just meant to till the soil to just to till the soil and then to plant seeds and then to water them and then to wait. And sometime the vineyard, you know, you have to wait for years to get to that condition where it's like perfect. Perfect for the best grapes. Right. So,
Stephen Toon: 00:51:33 Yeah.
Jon Buller: 00:51:35 Instead of trying to write a song, I tried to create the conditions for creativity, so I was started reading. I read as much as I could and I played music, but I didn't play it to right. I just learned songs. You know I worshiped, I did personal worship. I wasn't trying to write songs and it took about five months, but after five months, finally stuff started to grow again. That's, you know, that's, I think hopefully another story that's encouraging too. Artistic people are ministry people from time to time. Just remember that you're, you don't have to produce anything. You just have to be obedient to creating the conditions, planting the seeds, tilling the soil and it something will grow eventually and you will, there is a spring coming and there's appropriate things for every season. There's cutting off times and there is growth times and it's okay. You know, and that can be hopeful,
Stephen Toon: 00:52:38 Well I think this speaks to, you know, most if not all, everyone who's listening to this is most likely you know, an artist in some way. Maybe they don't write a lot of songs, but they're definitely choosing songs, helping to form the weekly service or liturgy in their community. I mean, it's the same thing goes like there's been a lot of weeks where I just knew I had to be faithful to prepare the service and to rehearse, you know, the song part and to prepare anything I was going to read or say or whatever. And I maybe wasn't feeling it, but I knew that if I, like you say, tilled the ground water, the soil that it would be beneficial to our community. And the hope is, you know, if you have Sunday after Sunday after Sunday, and this goes on forever, yeah, you might want to, you might want to, go to your trusted, you know, your closest friends and, counselors and your leader, whatever and say like, something's up. Something's dry. But like generally speaking, like if we keep, you know, facilitating worship and facilitating songwriting, facilitating or fostering it maybe is a good way to say it. And I found that I would have these dry spells, but I knew that the Lord was telling me like, still do it. And it wasn't about going through the motions. It's about, you know, using the gifts and the resources and the experience that he put in me to, to do my best, you know, as far as preparing. And so, I mean, it can look, that can look a number of ways for any of us. But I think whether you're writing songs or choosing songs or recording a podcast or whatever, you know, like you do your best to create the, anyways, I don't know how I didn't do very well this morning, but I tried to blame it on my kids, but I should have gotten up earlier. Jon, he saw, I had a few more questions that I threw at you, but I honestly, I think you've covered a lot. I want to honor your time. I don't want to, you know, keep you for too long here, but it's been so good. So rich for me personally. Like, Gosh, I just decided while you're speaking there, I just thought I got to do this at least once a week with somebody because it's feeding me and I'm learning from it. Like, and then I get to listen to it again. Sorry. What's that?
Jon Buller: 00:55:30 That's really good, Steph. I agree. Yeah.
Stephen Toon: 00:55:33 Yeah. Like a
Jon Buller: 00:55:34 Relationship, right?
Stephen Toon: 00:55:35 Totally, totally. So just maybe quickly as we close, you know, to worship leaders, just starting out, assuming we recognized the gifting and a calling in them. You know, what are your one, two, three kind of tips or advice that you would give somebody? I know this is sort of a typical end of the podcast question when you're doing an interview, but I always think it's great to hear what people say, but you know, what, what advice would you give somebody that's just starting?
Jon Buller: 00:56:05 Okay, well, I'll give you a couple of that have been important for me. One is, I read a up something years ago, I think it was Tom, a guy named Tom Crowder. A worship pastor that had written a small handbook at the time and one of the statements he made his worship leaders or lead worshipers or whatever you need to put aside all need for personal affirmation and just serve something like that. And later in life I had to learn a little bit about that because I realized that, so there's this whole personality thing called Myers Briggs. Some people that are really do Myers Briggs. Anyway INFP and one of the things about the my personality type and the artistic venue is that I have a high need for affirmation and a lot of artists are like that. And so, but we don't, we don't really, you either we don't know it or we do know it, but we feel bad about it, you know or whatever. Or where are we? We've come to understand it. And for me, what I realized is, okay, if I know that that's what I need, then I just, I need to find people in my life that can, that can give that to me, that can meet that need in a healthy way. So that when I am serving, I don't feel like, okay, I don't have like an unhealthy need to make it perfect. Obviously I want to make it good. I want to do my best, bring my excellence. But you know, you can cross a line where it becomes about the excellence more so, then the condition of your heart. So to be able to put aside your need for affirmation and is an important thing to like hold a balance and attention. Psalm 78-72 is a great little line for that too. David led with skillful hands and a pure heart. So if the heart outweighs the skill, then something's out of whack. And it doesn't really work very well. Like someone who's like super passionate but they can't tune their guitar, let's say or if the skill is out of whack with the heart and there's not really the passion for the Lord and you're not in tune, but you're really, really good. You can experience ah you know, a presentation from someone that's so good, but sort of feel like if it didn't connect to you, like you weren't able to act to God somehow. And that's because the hands and heart are in tune. So to be able to put aside that need for affirmation, hold those things, your gift and your talent and balance. The other thing I learned, actually I got curious one day and I thought, well, this parable about the five talents, like how much money did those guys actually get?
Stephen Toon: 00:59:21 Right
Jon Buller: 00:59:23 Five talent, two talent, one talent. So I looked it up and what one, I just googled it, right? What one has to meet is that five talents would be roughly equivalent to $13 million or something like that. Right? So this rich guy that went away, he gave, let's just say you give one person 10,000,00 and 1 person 5,000,00 and 1 person 1 million. But the whole point of that for me is If I look at a talent as symbolic of what God has given me to, to invest in. What that is, is that's a trust. He has entrusted that to me. And so I'm to take that thing that he entrusted to me and to do whatever I can do with that, to offer it back, serve him, you know, whatever that might be. And so to have pure, pure heart and skilled hands and to do that less out of, personal fulfillment more out of a realization of, okay, this is a trust that's been given to me and, you know, like we've been talking about for the last hour, trying to stumble into intimacy as much as I can with him. You know, those are, I think the some really valuable and important things to remember.
Stephen Toon: 01:00:53 That's awesome man.
Jon Buller: 01:00:54 You know, no matter where you're at in the journey, starting out as a musician or if you've been doing it forever, you know, it's just, yeah important either way.
Stephen Toon: 01:01:02 Yeah. Well I think, yeah, even those, I've seen those with talent who, they might be there in spirit and their heart is there, but they haven't actually been developing as a musician for a long time, you know? Yeah. It's interesting like
Jon Buller: 01:01:27 Helping hands, man.
Stephen Toon: 01:01:30 I've been, I've been trying to learn lately because I feel like I was dry and spent well in the music. I feel like I had plateaued, not like, yeah. Anyways, I just hadn't been practicing the way I would like to. And so this past, I don't know, in the last three or four months, I was like, I want to learn some steely Dan songs. So it's like, it's, yeah, it's been, it's been good, but you just reminded me, I've got to get on that again today.
Jon Buller: 01:02:04 Awesome.
Stephen Toon: 01:02:05 All those, flat fives and Maj9s and where they call the mu-major chord. But anyways man, it's been so good. Like I had a couple of other questions you know that, but I think maybe we could do this again down the road and you know, just see where you're at after maybe maybe after the next couple of summits and see what's coming next. And but man, I will be everybody pray for Jon, pray for Levite Summit.
Jon Buller: 01:02:40 Yeah, let me, you are warmly invited to the Levi at summit for, you know, some great equipping and training and inspiration and spiritual care,
Stephen Toon: 01:02:49 Right on.
Jon Buller: 01:02:50 All artists and musicians and leaders and, or people that just want to be in that vibe and experience some, some great teaching and some really fun and a reflective and a good time worship. So yeah, levitesummit.com.
Stephen Toon: 01:03:08 Right on.
Jon Buller: 01:03:10 And yeah, just type Levite summit on your Facebook or your Instagram or all the social media. You'll find us.
Stephen Toon: 01:03:20 You got two or three new songs or a, or a book or two that you want to recommend to our listeners?
Jon Buller: 01:03:26 Oh, yeah, sure. Uh, let me think about songs and books. So yeah, I'm kind of, I've been digging, Rend collective lately,
Stephen Toon: 01:03:36 Right on.
Jon Buller: 01:03:37 There I like that, you know, they have some fun stuff and there's a lot of joy and their music. I think it seems like right now there's lots of great worship music and a lot of great anthems.
Stephen Toon: 01:03:50 Yeah.
Jon Buller: 01:03:50 There's, it's maybe harder to find you know some energy and just joyful songs of Thanksgiving and entering the courts with praise that stuff. So yeah, I really like a Rend Collective these days. Lionheart is a pretty fun song I've been leading. I've been enjoying the glorious day. There's a team called Glorious Day by Christian Stanfield's.
Stephen Toon: 01:04:16 Yes, yes.
Jon Buller: 01:04:17 Good Times there. Um, yeah. And then as far as books go, yeah, I would, I would just reiterate again, um, you know, to understand like the sort of psychological, physical, spiritual spikes and valleys, hills and valleys in your life. So adrenaline and stress book was actually really interesting and informative for me. Archibald Hart, spiritual rhythms by Mark Buchanan really changed my life and my understanding of how to be a leader and do ministry and have those seasons and changes. [Mark] Buchanan has another great book called The Rest of God. It's a great Sabbath book. There's a writer called Berne Brown and she's got a few books out, but I read rising strong on sabbatical and found that to be really, really helpful for me just understanding how to, how to be okay with who I am, who I'm becoming. And another guy I would commend to you is a Parker Palmer. He's a Quaker. I read a book called let your life speak, which really helped me get clarity on something we were talking about earlier in the conversation here. Um, you know, just that whole idea of taking a break and trying to figure out, okay I'm I still meant to be doing what I'm doing or is it time for a shift? You know, if you're kind of feeling like I'm a little bit restless and don't know why, that's a great book to read.
Stephen Toon: 01:06:10 That's awesome.
Jon Buller: 01:06:11 Yeah,
Stephen Toon: 01:06:11 I used to have a, I had a spiritual director for a while and then, and just recently, like I haven't met with him for a long time, but recently I just was doing some, almost like spiritual directing myself because I went back to like pretending I was in a session with him and it always came down to that like listening to your life. I mean in, and so I don't know, I think it was last week. I just felt like, man, I haven't heard like the voice of God lately. It's not like I didn't, I don't know if they ever heard an audible voice, but you don't, God speaks to me to all of us in different ways and, and often it's Kinda unique to who we are and, but I felt like he was sort of nudging me and saying, Hey, like I am speaking, like sit down and think about what's going on in your life today and what themes are there? And anyways, so that's a good, that's good. I might want to check that out. So, I don't know if that's where he goes with it, but just by the title I thought. Hmm.
Jon Buller: 01:07:16 Yeah, yeah awesome.
Stephen Toon: 01:07:17 Eh Dude, that's awesome. That's so cool. Thank you so much for doing this. And I feel full up and ready to so
Jon Buller: 01:07:28 takes so long.
Stephen Toon: 01:07:30 What's, what's that? Oh yeah, yeah. No, well. No, man, that's totally cool and I hope you're okay with the late start and we went long here, but uh, it's been really good for me. So yeah.
Jon Buller: 01:07:43 Awesome.
Narration: 01:07:45 This has been the worshipleaderlife.com podcast. You can find this at worshipleaderlife.com and we just released a new mini ebook called four pillars of an awesome worship leader. We'd love for you to check it out. That's at worshipleaderlife.com
Narration: 01:08:05 I'm your host Stephen Toon I'm an ordained minister with the Christian and Missionary Alliance in Canada. I was a pastor for almost 20 years and now I support local churches by disciplining worship leaders and I look forward to serving you again. Our next podcast is going to be released in a week and I really hope you join us. Thanks, bye-bye.