Whether you realize it or not, when you address an instrumentalist or vocalist on your worship team, they’re listening much more to your tone than what you’re actually saying.
You have every right to point out when your drummer is playing too loudly, or your vocalist is singing the wrong melody, or your violinist is playing too much. But you have to do it carefully and lovingly. Your tone has a lot to do with this.
When I’m upset, my tone gets harsher. I might not even realize it, but it’s there. I speak more quickly and firmly. Example: “stop playing for a minute!”
When I’m impatient, my tone takes on a more bewildered quality. I speak to whomever I’m impatient with like they’re beneath me. Example: “are you ready to start yet?”
And when I’m frustrated, my tone becomes mean. Example: “I need more of myself in my monitor!”
The problem is that when you speak to members of the worship team with a less-than-gracious tone, you treat them like they work for you, not like they’re serving with you. Most people don’t take kindly to being bossed around. They’re more interested in knowing how to serve more effectively. You contribute to a boss-employee mindset or a servant-servant relationship depending on your tone.
Fundamentally, what’s important is that you display a Gospel-fueled and Spirit-enabled love for your worship team. You can try to mask frustration and impatience all you want, but it won’t work. First things first.
But even if you do love your team – from time to time you’ll need to address different members for different reasons. And in those moments, be aware that you need to watch your tone.
If you’re in a hurry and the sound engineer is struggling to get the board to cooperate, don’t add to his stress by being impatient. If your high school-aged drummer keeps speeding up, don’t add to his anxiety by declaring in front of everyone: “you’re speeding up!” Maybe take a five-minute break and talk to him one-on-one instead.
And while it’s true that they’re listening much more to your tone than what you’re actually saying – it doesn’t mean that it’s not important how you say it.
I’ve found that phrasing things more like a question can oftentimes take the hard edge off. Instead of “you’re not singing that line right”, try “could we make sure we’re singing the same thing on the chorus?” Or instead of “I don’t like how that sounds” try “can we work on that section for a minute? Here’s what I’m thinking…”
By watching your tone and addressing your team in a humble way, you will help cultivate an atmosphere of openness and creativity and joy.