By Catherine Howie
This list is based on experiences and conversations over the last couple of decades. I have been blessed to serve in churches that get this. For the most part.
And so… drum roll please….
#10 – Encouragement. Worship leaders are an artistic group, often with melancholy personalities. I’ve heard that for the general population it takes seven encouraging comments to offset one negative remark. For artistically invested folks the ratio is at least double that. Besides, encouragement never gets old, and it’s free! I have a file of encouraging cards that I read when I’m discouraged. I wouldn’t mind one more.
#9 – Feedback. Kindly given constructive feedback helps me figure out how to help our congregation connect with God better. Don’t be offended if I ask, “Can you explain that a little better?” I really do want to know what you’re saying. And I definitely like constructive feedback that is sandwiched between positive comments. (See #10.)
#8 – Administrative help. Yep I’m creative. That means administrative details are difficult and draining even if I am good at them. Can you get the music ready each week? Can you handle volunteer communication? While these seem like tiny tasks, my week is full of these tiny admin pebbles in my artistic boots that can wear me down. What seems easy to you can take a tremendous weight off me.
#7 – Music gift cards. Don’t buy me music – musicians are kind of picky on their music selections; plus, if they like it they probably already own it. A gift card with suggestions of new music works better. Just be careful when suggesting a new song in hopes that we’ll sing it in church. I put a lot of thought and prayer into bringing new songs to the body. Not using your song during the service doesn’t mean that I don’t like your music. So let me know your favorites, and let’s enjoy listening together.
# 6 – Invitation to worship. A big part of my job is to lead you in worship every Sunday. Don’t get me wrong—I love my job! I also enjoy worshiping God when someone else is stressed about whether the keyboard player will remember the intro. (I play keys, so I can say that!) This week I was invited to the senior worship project of one of our interns. What a soul-refreshing treat!!
#5 – Tickets to a production. Artistic people soak up inspiration. In fact, we need it like our physical bodies need food and without it my soul begins to whither. A play, art show, night at the symphony, and other events outside the church music world are a necessary luxury that is usually unaffordable. Please check with me though, to make sure I have the date open before you buy tickets. A bonus would be to include a ticket for my spouse.
#4 – Time to create. Creative cross-training keeps me focused and sharp. This is similar to #5, except that I’m engaged, not just soaking it up. Make arrangements for me to take a workshop or spend all day in my studio. Again, check with me to make sure this works with my schedule, then drop off a basket of snacks or a brown bag lunch so I can create all day without stopping.
#3 – Initiate. Do you see a need and have the ability to take care of it? Even something simple would make my day! Wrapping cables, re-setting the stage, sorting music, throwing away coffee cups, stacking chairs…. What do you see me doing when you leave the church? Offer to help me do it, and let’s serve together!
#2 – Pray. All week my efforts go into arranging everything in the worship center and service so that you can have a dynamic encounter with God. I pray for you and for the service. I would love to know that you are praying for me. Drop me a note or an email. Send an encouraging Scripture. When someone sends me a verse or two it often hits the aching spot in my heart. Like preaching pastors, worship leaders are on the front lines— leading the charge into enemy territory similar to the worship leaders who led the Israelite army into battle. The age-old tactic to take out the leader is a favorite one of our enemy’s. I can’t do what I do without prayer. The stakes are too high: we need to gather together and worship God.
#1 – Worship. The best way to encourage your worship leader is to worship God. Some of you connect best with him by pulling into yourselves. Head down, hugging yourself, lips barely moving… you are deeply worshiping him. When worshiping him in community, our main purpose is still to individually worship Him from the depth of our souls – but to do it together. The dynamic is different even though the purpose remains the same. To encourage those around physically show with your posture, countenance, and voice, what is going on in your heart. Try being more overt. Throw your hands up high in adoration. Kneel and cry out to him. Sing so loud you are hoarse. When you worship alone, you have only God to consider. When we can see you are worshiping God, we worship him more deeply—and I lead you better.
Knowing others are worshiping God is the second most glorious experience for a worship leader.
The first is worshiping him.
Catherine Howie leads the Creative Arts at Trinity Church in Indianapolis, co-directs Halcyon Arts, a department of A.C.T., International, and speaks and blogs on topics relating to creativity and faith. worshipdevo.wordpress.com.