WORSHIP: How can I lead if they won’t follow?
Have you ever caught yourself watching a video of a new worship song, thinking how awesome it would be to play that song? So you bring it to rehearsal only to hear your worship band totally destroy it?!? The rhythm is wrong! Why can’t we keep the tempo straight? What’s wrong with that guy? Doesn’t she hear this part? You slam down your instrument in disgust wishing Kari Jobe would just walk in with her band and then all would be right in the world…or would it?
In this blog were going to cover the topics of Leading and Following in the context of worship. As a leader I cannot put unrealistic expectations on the band. As a band member I can’t expect my leader to be Joel Houston (unless he is Joel Houston). We need to understand that one position is not more spiritual than the other. We are called members of the same body, differing gifts and callings, but the same body. We are set as pleases God. I think that if we can trust His discernment we will find He has also set us as pleases us!
My name is Jonathan and I am a worship leader. As much as I love the style or the voice of this or that other leader I never look in the mirror on Sunday and see them. I see me. I take that to mean that God has something for me to learn about leading that’s personal to me and something to impart to my team that no one else can. What kind of a leader will I be? How can I build a genuine worship music culture in my church? How can I boost musicianship on my team? What do I do about team members’ lateness or apathy? What about people not catching my vision or not obeying my directives? Wouldn’t it just be better to stop everything and just do it all myself? How can I lead if they won’t follow? As valid as these questions may be they reveal a flaw in my thinking. Thinking that the “success” of the worship experience is dependent on me and my ability to execute my vision will lead to exhaustion and frustration. God really will give practical answers to all of my question in time as I worship.
I see my role as a leader in this light: I am trying my best to free up my team and my church to worship. Sometimes this involves working a long time, repetitiously, on minute details of songs so that when we use them in worship the band can play freely without ever thinking of the details. Sometimes it looks like shelving an idea that I like because it would only complicate matters. At other times, while being sensitive to people’s capacity, I need to stretch them a little by bringing in creative elements that are beyond us and give us something to work up to. I need to have a vision way beyond my team but steps that even the weakest member can take.
One thing that this leadership style always involves is worship. Something that seems obvious, but isn’t always, is that I too need to worship. For me that means if this vocal part is too low for me to really get into it then I’m going to raise the key. If I’m feeling it I may spontaneously break into a chorus of a song that wasn’t on our set list. I’m going to bring in new music. I’m going to try to lead people beyond their preferences. I’m not going to be consistent in things I feel are flexible and I may not be flexible with things that I feel aren’t. I will always listen to what you have to say and I probably will not do everything you ask. I will do my best to stay flexible, humble, respectful, and teachable. I will not be offended and if I am I will not react but go to the throne seeking a real solution to our issues.
Every band I’ve been a part of had it’s own unique challenges. One challenge remained constant: people. Being a follower, or a humble team member, is always a challenge for us fallen beings. Our ego presses on us to exert ourselves. Our way is always better. Add to that the temptation to think that I could do a better job than that guy. These are lies. The best place for me to be is where God has placed me. As a band member I may take issue with my leader’s style or musical selection. I may not like his skinny jeans or his personality. His voice annoys me, he’s a terrible musician, he has no vision, he doesn’t listen, he’s bad at conflict resolution, he doesn’t wear deodorant. Whatever the case may be, God has made him the leader and me a team member. Therefore, God has gifted him with certain things and me with others. He has certain responsibilities and attacks on his call and I have others. He has weaknesses and strengths and many times if I can put aside my pride and take my place on the team I will find that God has fitted us together to complement each other and supply what is lacking. Finally, think on this, you may be in the leadership role one day, what kind of team members would you like to work with?