Am I aware of siren tunes in my life?
This thought has been lingering in my mind ever since we began singing a newer song in our church. The name of the song is “Lead Us Back” by Bobby Gilles and Brooks Ritter.
Here are the lyrics:
Falling down upon our knees,
Sharing now in common shame,
We have sought security,
Not the cross that bears Your name.
Fences guard our hearts and homes —
Comfort sings a siren tune.
We’re a valley of dry bones;
Lead us back to life in You.
Lord we fall upon our knees,
We have shunned the weak and poor,
Worshipped beauty, courted kings
And the things their gold affords,
Prayed for those we’d like to know —
Favor sings a siren tune.
We’ve become a talent show;
Lead us back to life in You.
You have caused the blind to see,
We have blinded him again
With our man-made laws and creeds,
Eager, ready to condemn.
Now we plead before Your throne —
Power sings a siren tune.
We’ve been throwing heavy stones;
Lead us back to life in You.
There are three phrases that I would like to highlight in this post:
Comfort sings a siren tune…
Favor sings a siren tune…
Power sings a siren tune…
Siren tune. Are you familiar with that phrase? It is important that you understand the context of this concept if you are going to grasp the objective of this post.
The Sirens (or Seirenes) were three beautiful, but treacherous, creatures in Greek Mythology. They lived on an island in the Mediterranean between Aeaea and the rocks of Scylla. Their power lay in their ability to enchant through their gift of music and singing. One sang, one played the lyre, and another played the flute.
Through their alluring music and clever and deceitful words, the Sirens would sing out to passing ships, causing the captain and the crew to be drawn in and their ship to be crashed upon the rocks. The Sirens drew mariners to their death.
As the story goes in Homer’s Odyssey, book XII, Odysseus traveled past the island of the Sirens with his ship and crew. And as counseled by the sorceress Circe, he mandated his men to plug their ears with wax so as not to be enchanted by the music. Odysseus then ordered his men to tie him securely to the mast of the ship. Under no circumstance was the crew to untie him, no matter how much he begged or pleaded with his men.
As the ship sailed past the island, the Sirens sang out. Odysseus begged the crew to release him, but they did not listen and only bound him more to the mast. The ship finally sailed past the island and the men, and the ship, escaped without incident.
So do the lyrics of the song make more sense now?
They have gripped me.
As a leader, do I, do you, know the siren tunes that play for us, hoping to draw us to the reefs and rocks, only to destroy us? There are many siren tunes that call out to us. And for each of us, they may be different. Three are given in the song above and they are three worthy siren tunes to watch out for. And I believe it is pretty clear why comfort, favor, and power can crash us upon the rocks if we are not careful.
As leaders, as visionaries, we have to see a bit farther than those we lead. It does not mean we have all of the answers, but it does mean that we have to view the landscape with a bit more purpose and design…and from a higher elevation. It is how we protect our people.
So how do we keep ourselves from crashing on the reefs of these siren tunes? How should we be thinking?
The siren tune is alluring
In The Lord of the Rings, Gandalf writes “all that is gold does not glitter.” Meaning, things that seem appealing may turn out to be dangerous. Similarly, alluring sounds are not always meant to be followed.
As a leader, in whatever venue, I have to be aware and discerning to know that the sounds of comfort, favor, and power are not evil in and of themselves. But they can be dangerous. And I need to have the foresight to understand what sounds are most alluring to me and which are most dangerous to me.
And be on guard.
Discerning your own siren tunes
Not everyone is equally drawn by a given siren tune. What may allure me may not allure you. What might draw me to head toward the reefs may not even be a song heard by you.
And that is why we need to be in community with those who know us and have the permission to speak truth into our lives.
Why? Because of blind spots.
Blind spots are those spots in life that you are…well…blind to. It is like driving a car, checking your rearview mirror and side mirror, changing lanes, only to discover there is a car right beside you.
It is the same with blind spots in life. I have intentionally surrounded myself with people in life who will speak truth into me and get in my face when I start to go astray in my thinking. I need and love these individuals. They have kept me from steering toward rocky shorelines. And they have kept me sailing in the right direction. Why? Because they know my blind spots.
There must be a proactive mindset against the siren tune
Odysseus knew the danger of passing by the island of the Sirens. And because he was a leaders, he felt the burden of not only saving himself but those who were following as well. And he took specific measures to deal with the threat. He had the men put wax in their ears so they would not be overcome by the singing that they heard.
And as the captain of the ship, he was strong enough to withstand the temptation. Right?
His leadership did not put him above his crew. His vulnerability was not lessened because he was a leader. This is key.
He knew he was as likely to be drawn in as his men, and though he wanted to hear the song from the shore, he made sure that he would not lead himself or his crew into peril by being able to steer the ship into the rocks.
And so too with us and for those we lead. Once I understand the siren songs in my life, I need the Holy Spirit and the Word of God working daily in my life.
I cannot afford even one day off. Paul gives a great visual in I Timothy 1:19,
“…holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith…” (1 Timothy 1:19)
Shipwrecked faith. Shipwrecked lives.
I see leaders fall too swiftly and too often. And it makes me both angry and sad. Because many times, with just common sense and caution, the rocky shore could have been averted. No one was thinking proactively.
So what are you doing today as a leader to create safety nets so that you do not listen to those siren tunes that will inevitably draw you off course and create destruction and pain in your life? Here is a review of the three principles.
- Are you aware that these siren tunes sound appealing but are beguiling and enchanting?
- Are you discerning which siren tunes are most dangerous to you personally in your own leadership?
- Are you being proactive against these siren tunes? How?
Evaluate your own life. Are you on course or are you heading toward the reefs? Make course adjustments while you are able.