When Your Pastor Asks You to Drop a Song

Yesterday morning, about two hours before our 11:00am service, I got an email from the pastor who would be leading the service, asking me to drop one of the opening songs. Here’s what he said:

JB, Morning and a question.  We have the introduction of a Chinese delegation of pastors this morning, and several announcements and a video, and a really long reading, and JY doesn’t think he’ll be short (Melchizedek takes some ‘splaining).  In light of that I think we should drop one of the songs from the first set.  Does that work?  Can you zip me a reply on that so I know how to configure the other stuff?  Thanks, Dean.

I wrote back very simply:

Sure. No problem at all.

When your pastor asks you to drop a song, you should say “yes” every time.

Sure, I was looking forward to leading all four songs, and I thought doing all four songs helped the opening set be well-rounded and balanced. Part of me was bummed to have to cut one of them out. But, me being bummed doesn’t matter one bit. Submitting to my pastor(s), being a team player, and seeking to lead out of humility requires me to graciously do whatever I’m asked to do. Even dropping a song.

This doesn’t happen every week. It actually doesn’t happen very often. If it did happen regularly, it would probably be good to have a conversation about it during the week, and figure out exactly how much time we envision the different segments of a service taking. This would be the time and place to “push back” if it felt necessary. But a Sunday morning isn’t the time or place.

Worship leaders can quickly become territorial and protective of the time of singing as being “their time”. When that happens, requests to cut a song and/or shorten the time can be viewed as personal attacks warranting extreme defensive measures. This is a mistake and it will put you firmly on the pastor’s bad side. You don’t want to be there.

Get into the habit of reminding yourself the entire service is “worship”, and you just help lead one small part. Then it’s not so hard to say “yes” when and if it needs to be a little smaller.

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