Yesterday I suggested that, unfortunately, most worship leaders don’t devote any time to plan and prepare for what they will say to the congregation in the course of a service, and because of this they end up communicating inarticulately, nervously, and ineffectively. The first remedy to this that I propose is to actually think it through and write it down. The next thing is to submit to your pastor.
Your pastor is called to be a shepherd. This means two things for you: First, you’re one of those sheep. God has placed you under the shepherding of your pastor – not outside of it. It’s good to remember this simple truth since worship leaders can be tempted to forget it. Secondly, while you yourself are a sheep, in your position as a worship leader, you are also exercising leadership over your fellow sheep. It’s imperative, then, that when you are exercising leadership, you are doing so in submission to your pastor. This applies to every part of your ministry, including any words you might say on Sunday morning.
As a worship leader, you need to know that you have your pastor’s blessing over what you’re doing. Too many worship leaders are left guessing what their pastor thinks and only finding out when their pastor doesn’t like something. That’s not a good scenario. Approach your pastor and have a conversation about what your parameters are so that you know generally where you’re covered and where you’re not. Ask a question like: “how comfortable are you with me offering encouragement from time to time to the congregation?” If your pastor’s answer is “I’d really rather you not unless I know exactly what you’re going to say”, then you’ll need to submit to that. But if your pastor’s answer is “I’m happy for you to do that whenever you feel led”, then you’ll know you have a bit more wiggle room. In either case, just asking this question of your pastor shows that you recognize you’re a sheep in his flock and you’re attempting to submit to his leadership.
Having this kind of conversation is a good idea for a number of reasons. First, it shows your pastor that you’re not attempting to exercise leadership outside of his pastoral covering. Second, it protects you if anyone in the congregation raises an objection to anything you say. If they come to you, you will be able to honestly say that you speak with the blessing of your pastor. If they come to your pastor, he will be able to honestly say that you all have spoken about this and he’s given you his blessing. Third, worship leaders are most effective when they’re operating in partnership with their pastor. This helps forge that kind of partnership.
Beyond having a general idea of what parameters your pastor is comfortable with you operating within, it’s also helpful, when possible, to know if your pastor has given his blessing to specific words you feel prompted to share. I say “when possible” intentionally – since you won’t always know ahead of time the exact words you’ll feel prompted to share. But the Holy Spirit doesn’t only speak to us on the fly. He speaks to us in our planning, and if you have taken the time to think it through and write and down, you’d be wise to run it by your pastor.
If I’m preparing for a service and I have a sense that God is prompting me to share a brief word of encouragement between a song, there’s no good reason for me to keep that a secret from my pastor. I need to find time to tell my pastor I’m feeling led to share something, tell him what I plan to share, and ask if he would be comfortable with that. If he’s not, then I’ll have spared myself an unfortunate moment of operating outside his parameters as my shepherd, honored God by seeking counsel, and grown in my sensitivity to the Holy Spirit since he doesn’t speak to me all by myself, but he also speaks to me through Godly people around me. If my pastor is comfortable with what I want to share, then I can do so confident that I have his blessing.
Again, it’s important for worship leaders to partner with their pastor, and to be a good sheep. All parties involved will benefit when there is good communication between pastors and worship leaders. You’ll feel protected, encouraged, and blessed, Your pastor will feel honored, respected, and informed. Your congregation will see healthy, functional, and wise leadership displayed.
The congregation shouldn’t cringe whenever the worship leader starts talking. Your pastor shouldn’t be out of the loop and have no idea what you’re going to say. You shouldn’t be acting only on impulse and putting yourself out there on a ledge. Think it through, write it down, and submit to your pastor.
Tomorrow we’ll look at the importance of using the right tone. See you then.