Monday, December 18

The Poison of Position in Praise And Worship Leading

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The position of a worship leader, or indeed any part of the worship team, is one that many people aspire to.  That makes this position a potential source of a poison in your life, and one you must deal with quickly so that it will not grow into a huge source of pride.

Having a position of leadership means power and, as the old saying goes, “absolute power corrupts absolutely!”

I have been in churches where, when the position of worship leader has come up, there has been nothing short of a war between potential candidates to obtain that position!  It feels a bit like being in the corporate world, where it is “dog eats dog” on the corporate ladder, when the last man standing will gain the position, regardless of his abilities or his genuineness of heart.  Brothers and sisters, this must not be in the church!

If you have been appointed to the position of worship leader, then you need to recognize that it is a position of responsibility and hard work, not a means of making others do your bidding.  As Jesus pointed out in Mark 10:45, our destiny as leaders is to serve, not to be served.  Although the position may have its benefits, we need to focus on what is right and proper.

Being a worship leader means that we are the ones who make the critical decisions in regards to worship.  We very often choose the songs, the music style and who is on the worship team for that week.  We choose to elevate or to demote our team members, and we set the direction that worship will take.  Many of us are very ready to make these decisions, and have very clear and firm ideas as to how these things should be done.  But do we recognize that with great power comes great responsibility?

If you are a worship leader, you will need to make decisions, some of which may not be easy.  But you must also bear responsibility for the consequences of those decisions, and not passed the buck to other members of your team.  As Pres. Truman said, “the buck stops here”, and this is absolutely true for worship leaders. 

The position of worship leader is a position of responsibility, not just of decision-making, so we need to face this position with a great sense of humility, knowing that without the Holy Spirit there is no chance that I worship leading will be a success!

In the church, as in any other organization, there are positions and responsibilities and we as worship leaders have been fortunate enough to be appointed to one of those key positions.  This means that, in the eyes of both out team members and also our congregation, that we are worthy of such an honour, but we must not let this honour go to our heads!

Over many years of worship leading, as I’ve travelled around the world speaking with and observing worship leaders, in small churches, medium-size churches and large churches, many worship leaders struggle with the poison of abuse of position.  This is easily detected by their attitude towards their peers, and how they treat others both on and off their teams.  I’m immediately wary if I meet a worship leader who speaks, and everybody around him snaps to attention!  Very often, this worship leader has used the position to gain control over other people, that they made do his or her bidding, and they teach their team members that serving them is the equivalent of obeying the Lord himself!  There’s a lot of pride, and very little humility and these leaders, and sometimes this attitude has come down from the pastors!

Let me make this clear: there is nothing wrong with asking team members to do things to help.  Whether pitfall becomes a pitfall is in the attitude that is behind the request.

As a worship leader I have always made it my practice to try and serve with a spirit of humility, and to serve as a servant would, washing the feet of my fellow team members rather than ordering them around.  I have found that, if I treat them with love and respect, that I gained huge loyalty and a better result all round because they feel encouraged by their leader, rather than persecuted.  The end result is that my loyal team members will do anything for me, often without my even asking, to bless and care for myself and my family.  These actions by my team members are fuelled not by a sense of dread and persecution, but by a genuine sense of loyalty and respect the likes of which overbearing worship leaders cannot obtain if they concentrate on the position and all its finery!

If something is not up to scratch in the worship, if it goes too long of fails to engage hearts, then I consider myself responsible, even if I was not even the one leading!  Whether i am on the morning or not, the buck stops with the leader, and I need to find the solution and bear the responsibility.

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