News flash: if you lead worship in any capacity, whether it’s full-time, part-time, or volunteer, one thing is inevitable. You will face a difficult situation at some point. And you won’t know what to do. And how you handle the difficult situation will have consequences.
A member of your congregation is so angry at you that he/she threatens to leave the church. How do you respond?
It seems like someone else on the ministry team/staff at your church is out to get you. Who do you go to?
A member of your worship team is openly living their life in a way that’s contradictory to being in up-front worship leadership. How do you tackle this?
Your pastor is critical of you to other members of the congregation. What in the world are you supposed to do?
You inherited a “worship design committee” that is seeking to exert control over you and your song choices that’s not helpful. Do you have any hope of survival?
These are just a few made-up scenarios that either in my own ministry, or in my experience knowing other worship leaders, touch on some of the difficult situations that leave us wishing we were in another line of work.
And while the difficult situation that you’ll face might be different from one I described above, your questions will be the same. How do I handle this? What is my next move?
You handle tough situations by getting good advice. And, preferably, out-of-the-bubble advice. Someone who can look at your situation from a 30,000 foot view. Someone who’s not emotionally involved. Someone who has Godly wisdom. And, most importantly, someone you can trust to be honest with you.
Here’s the thing, though. And I want to be careful how I say this.
Sometimes the worst advice you’ll receive will come from other people who are in ministry. This is because, generally, people in ministry don’t have as much business/management/leadership experience as the people who are, you guessed it, working in the fields of business, or management, or leadership.
I’m not saying that people in ministry, namely your senior pastor (who you need to include on as much as you can) or other pastors at your church, won’t have good advice. Go to these people too. They’ll have great insights and observations and could potentially help you avoid some landmines. You might have a pastor who’s incredibly wise and experienced. (And even if he’s not, you should still keep him in the loop and love him as well as you can!)
But, again I’m making a generalization here, most pastors or people in ministry, are not nearly as experienced or seasoned in the political and managerial realities of real-world leadership issues as some of the Godly men and women in your congregation are.
So If I could give one piece of leadership advice to a new worship leader, it would be this: when you face difficult situations in ministry and you don’t know what to do, stop and take a deep breath. Pray a lot. Talk to your pastor and get his advice and observations. But then get outside the bubble as quickly as you can. Find someone who can be your mentor. Someone who has run a large-ish organization. Someone who’s been in politics. Or someone who is a gifted leader. Spill the beans to them. Then listen to their advice. Give them permission to be honest with you. Because maybe you’re the problem! In any case, listen well and you’ll benefit from them.
Out-of-the-bubble advice will prove to be incredibly valuable to you as a worship leader, and will help you navigate the inevitable difficult situations with wisdom and clarity.