If you’re like most, you’ve spent most of your time perfecting the musical gifts that God has given you. As you’ve done that, you’ve been promoted and now find yourself leading not just worship, but the congregation and the music team as well. The good news is that leadership skills can be learned, and God’s Word has much to say about how to lead.
As a worship leader myself, one of my favorite leadership verses is found in Titus 2:15 - Thus speak, exhort, reprove with all impressiveness. Let no one make light of your authority
Paul was writing to one of his young leaders when he wrote those words, and they hold some important principles as you work to become the worship leader and leader God wants you to be.
Let’s look these principles.
1) Speak – Communicate your goals with the choir, orchestra, ensemble and music team. But you can’t communicate your goals for the worship ministry if you have none. Ask yourself what you want to accomplish this year. How many new songs will you introduce? What instruments do you want to add to the team? Who do you want to train to fill in for you when you’re absent?
Then get input and vision from your pastor. Find out what upcoming ministry topics and try to introduce songs that will flow with the pastor’s direction. From all this, develop some clear goals and spell them out for your team. Then let your team members share with you what their goals are. Discover who has a goal to lead worship, to write new songs for the congregation, or to lead the choir. This will take you to the second principle found in Titus 2:15. . .
2) Exhort - In his book The One Minute Manager, Kenneth Blanchard stressed the need to catch employees doing something good and to encourage them. The same holds true for the worship leader. Exhort your team by encouraging them profusely and regularly. Ed Cole has taught that words either build up or tear down; there is no in between.
I’ve found that fear and intimidation hold back many musicians as well as congregational
worshipers. Help them work through that fear so they can minister effectively. Paul told Timothy to stir up the gifts within you ( 2 Timothy 1:6). As leaders, that’s part of our job. Leaders are only leaders because people follow them. And people tend to follow those who encourage them, making room for them and their gifts. If we encourage them, we forfeit some of our leadership. If we’re afraid to get involved and exhort, then we’re also going to avoid the final principle Paul shared with Titus. . .
3) Reprove-- You probably lead some gifted people. But lack of integrity or faithfulness will in the long run undermine their gifts. We need to reprove those we work with without fear of losing them. If we build meaningful relationships with them, this process will be much easier because they will know for certain that we love them.
Once a young man on my worship team was a great keyboard player, though habitually late. I had to make a decision: Would I look the other way and hope he would improve? Or would I get involved and reprove him? I chose the latter option and sat down with him for a heart-to-heart talk. Then I bought him a watch, set it fifteen minutes fast and asked him to follow it. He clearly understood that his continued tardiness was hampering our effectiveness and would ultimately cost him a place on the team. This young man improved so much that when he met a special young lady some time later, she shared with us that one of the things she appreciated most about him was his punctuality! Today he leads a band of his own. Worship leadership is complete when those we work with are changed.
I challenge you to follow the example Paul laid out for Titus: speak, exhort and reprove. Improve your people skills as you lead God’s people into His presence. As you do, your gifts and your skills will work together to make you an effective worship leader and leader for the Kingdom of God.