You probably won’t become the worship leader you want to be. Why? Because leadership is not a destination, it is a journey.
If you meet a person who has become the worship leader they want to be, feel sorry for them. That person will never grow again.
Always aim to grow. Don’t aim to “arrive.”
Below are eight areas of worship leading you can grow in. Don’t try to tackle them all at once. Find one that connects with you and master it. Here we go.
1. HAVING A SHARP EAR
Most of the time, worship leaders aren’t actually leading worship. There are meetings, emails, scheduling, auditioning, and every now and then, they lead worship. Music and worship are a small part of what they do.
Many worship leaders have trained their ear to hear chord progressions, lead lines, and melodies. They can hear a song and tell you if the chorus is a I, IV, ii, IV progression or vi, IV, I V, without even picking up an instrument.
Most worship leaders don’t learn this skill because they have a special talent. They learn this skill because they have to.
If you’re a worship leader, you’re probably busy. If you can learn a skill that will free up more time, it’s worth learning. A well-trained ear reduces the time it takes to make charts and memorize songs.
I recommend Jeffrey Kunde’s books on music theory and ear-training. You can find those resources at jeffreykunde.com.
2. SPEAKING MUSICIAN’S LANGUAGES
A big part of your job is communicating to different musicians. Every instrument has its own vocabulary. Good leadership communicates effectively. Spend some time with Google and YouTube learning the vocabulary of every musician you work with. You’ll be a better leader for it
There are a lot of good things you can pursue with your time. In fact, there are too many good things to pursue. If you pursue all the good things, you will lose sight of the important things.
In his book, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit Of Less, Greg McKeown talks about the concept of less but better. It’s possible to pursue good things and still not make an impact. A good leader can identify what is truly important and has the courage to say no to what isn’t. As Johnny Diaz says, “Lay down what’s good and find what’s best.”
We often don’t think we need to plan. That’s probably true. We don’t need to plan, but other people need us to. Planning isn’t for you-it’s for the people around you. When you plan things out in advance, it helps others execute that plan better. Set people up for success. Plan.
Because surprise is refreshing. Being predictable is a strength, but there comes a point when people need something refreshing. A little spontaneity can light up a face and soften a heart.
There’s a reason I put Planning and Spontaneity right next to each other. If you’re good at one, work on the other. Some of you are hyper-planners. If that’s you then put a little spice into life and be a little spontaneous. If you’re the kind of worship leader that does everything on the fly, perfect. Any improvement in planning is going to be appreciated.
6. GETTING TEAMS EXCITED
In some ways, this is the essence of leadership. Here are some quick tips.
- Be excited yourself. If you’re not excited, they won’t be excited.
- Over communicate the “why” of the vision. People will get on board when they know why they should be on board. The “how” will take care of itself.
- Help people visualize the end result. Humans are visual. Paint the picture of success and they’ll be excited for the vision.
7. CREATING OTHER WORSHIP LEADERS
You can’t do it alone. You may think you can and that’s fine. You’ll prove yourself wrong in a little bit. Perfecting your craft is like addition. Investing in someone else is like multiplication. Here’s a simple formula on investing in other worship leaders I’ve heard other people talk about.
- Step 1: You do, they watch.
- Step 2: You do, they help.
- Step 3: They do, you help.
- Step 4: They do, you watch.
8. SHOWING VOLUNTEERS THEY ARE VALUED
You probably work with a lot of volunteers. You probably value their participation.
Whether you value someone is a moot point. The real question is “Do they feel valued?”
It’s easy to assume someone knows what we think. We’ve all done it. We are also ten times more likely to complain then to compliment. So whether you know it or not, there is a good chance they have received more negative impressions than positive ones. Activity combat that tendency. Catch your team doing things right and go out of your way to express your gratitude for them.
This is a lot. If you try to grow in all of them, you might not grow in any. Pick one and focus on it for the next month. You are much more likely to grow. Once that month is done, don’t stop growing. Leadership isn’t a destination. It’s a journey. May you never become the leader you want to be.
Jed Smith has been leading worship for 15 years and currently leads worship at Lutheran Church Of Hope Des Moines. He felt God’s call for worship ministry in 2008 while studying at the New Life School of Worship. He’s also a Green Bay Packers fan to a fault.