Calling it Out

Far too many worship teams, choirs, and entire music ministries are riddled with pride. Competition, territories, and non-negotiables abound.

“How come Sally gets to sing once every 2 weeks, but I only get to sing every 2 months?”

“This worship team is the only reason why people come to this service.”

“I have played trumpet on this team since long before this worship leader got here, and I’ll be playing on this team long after he leaves.”

“Our choir is what holds this church together. If we weren’t here, half the church would leave.”

“Don’t mess with our services They’re fine the way they are.”

“I’m the best guitarist in the church.”

I am increasingly convinced that one of my roles as a worship leader, and as someone who oversees the worship teams at my church, is to foster an atmosphere in which two things happen: First, pride is not tolerated, and second, pride is called out.

We talk about it. We laugh at it. We say how silly it is. We pray that God would point out evidences of it in our lives. We don’t dance around it and pretend it’s not there, while year after year it festers and grows and eventually chokes the life out of our ministry. We call it out.

Most of the time “calling it out” happens in an intentionally humorous manner. If God “mocks proud mockers” (Proverbs 3:34), then it seems to make sense that we would also view pride as deserving mocking. At our monthly meetings, or in rehearsals, I’ll just try to find ways to poke fun at my sinful desire to be the best, and good-naturedly joke with instrumentalists and singers in a way that encourages not taking ourselves too seriously.

Other times, I’ll call it out in a more serious way, since the warning that “God opposes the proud” (James 4:6) should cause us to take pride seriously. I want to communicate to the worship team three things: First, I struggle with this, and you all struggle with this; second, here are some specific ways we might be tempted to embrace pride as musicians; and third, here are some general ways we’re all tempted to embrace pride as sinful human beings.

Once you call it out – get it out in the open, name it, and expose how destructive and petty pride really is – you can explain why it can’t be tolerated.

The worship leader, choir director, or pastor who’s afraid to address the problem of pride is contributing to an atmosphere in which God’s glory becomes less and less of a priority. I encourage you to call pride out – most of the time gently, sometimes sternly, but always firmly.

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