Let me get this out of the way from the top . . . I am not a writer.
I do send mass emails weekly to our teams here at FBC Shelbyville, but that probably doesn’t count. In fact, not only am I not a writer, I am not always an effective communicator. This is something I am praying about and hope to become when I grow up.
I find myself encouraged by reading short and to the point blogs and articles on a weekly basis. I appreciate informational text with a specific purpose. I really like the ones that have numbers attached to them- you know the type: 9 Ways to Fall Asleep Faster, 3 Things to Never Say to Your Pregnant Wife, 4 Tips to Avoiding Office Drama, etc.
Although I have never read these particular articles (honestly, I made them up), I enjoy reading ministry-related articles written in this format. In fact, I enjoy them so much that I decided if I ever had anything worthwhile to say, I would document it in this fashion. So, here it is . . .
7 Things Every Worship Pastor Should Consider
No. 1 – Keep your word (Ephesians 4:25)
When you tell someone you are going to do something, do it. This is easier said than done. It takes a great amount of effort to follow through on great ideas and random requests. I like working with idea people. I LOVE working with doers. Put some feet to that great idea. It takes discipline and sometimes a tremendous amount of time and energy. Do it. Small bites. Make it happen.
Also, how many of us are bombarded by requests after services or rehearsals? It seems like I usually have a line of folks wanting to express concerns or needing me to do something for them.
During stressful seasons (aka Christmas and Easter), I have a rule: If someone needs me to do something for them, I ask them to send an email to a specific email address created for just such requests (I made up a simple one to remember: pleasehelpzach@______.com). If it is important enough for them to tell me about it AND send an email to remind me, I make time to complete the request.
What I have found is that many who seem to have a knack for coming up with random chores for me don’t find the request nearly as important when they have to make an effort to type out an email.
I recognize this is a bit extreme, and perhaps you have a better memory than I, but this has been an absolute blessing to my workload (if you think it may not fly in your situation, you may want to give it a chance anyway – our folks embraced it so much that a sweet couple in our worship choir had a shirt made for me to wear to help reinforce the idea!) Perhaps #1 segues nicely to #2 . . .
No. 2 – Don’t overextend yourself (2 Corinthians 9:7-9)
It is ok to say no. Saying no prevents you from simply giving of your time and energy out of compulsion. Saying no allows you to give of yourself more cheerfully when you are really needed. Sometimes we have to say no to good things to make way for better things. Do you have a personal mission or ministry statement? If so, see if and how the request, event, conference, etc. lines up with said statement. If you don’t yet have a ministry statement, perhaps it’s time to prayerfully develop one. Look for more information on how to craft a clearly articulated mission statement in a future post.
No. 3 – Pray for others (James 5:16)
Don’t be that person who tells someone that you will be praying for them and then doesn’t do it (See #1). If someone asks you to pray for them, do it right on the spot- with them, in their presence. Then, write it down. Put it in your notes on your phone.
Find a way to keep an active prayer list. This is part of a healthy prayer life. In addition to praying for them daily, give them a call or text and check on them and the situation you are praying about. I want to be that guy who people call when they need someone to pray for them. I want them to know that I take praying for them seriously.
Here’s something else . . . pray for the people who drive you crazy and make ministry a challenge. I am walking that path currently and it is freeing to lift those folks up in prayer. It is difficult to be hard-hearted towards a person you are praying for.
In addition, pray for that church or ministry in your town that is killing it. You know, the hip church that does everything you wish you could get away with- the one that is seeing people saved and baptized weekly; the one that gets all the great musicians in town. Pray for that one. Pray for their pastors and worship teams. Lift them up. Don’t you want to see revival in your city? I thought so.
This leads to #4 . . .
No. 4 – Champion the gifts and ministries of others & celebrate the success of sister churches (Hebrews 10:24-25)
Why is it that many musicians are prideful, arrogant, conceited, cocky, etc.? The church is not immune to this behavior, unfortunately. In fact, often times leading a worship and tech team is akin to coaching a middle school cheerleading squad. Many of these folks would not find it necessary to act out in this way if they simply felt valued, appreciated, loved. Take time to let your team know that you think they are awesome. Don’t be afraid to highlight the gifts and abilities of those around you. Guess what? Many of them are better than you- more talented than you. That’s OK. You are CALLED. Celebrate their gifts and be thankful that you have talented people around you. It beats the alternative.
That church we spoke of earlier- send an email or shoot a text to their worship pastor. Encourage them. Let them know that you are genuinely excited about what God is doing in their midst. Collaborate. Worship pastors should be the first to want to live in community with brothers and sisters in Christ. Don’t build walls with the bricks of jealousy, pride, and fear. You know better. Instead, find opportunities to work together. Take a fellow worship leader to lunch. Experienced leaders reach out to younger ones. Share your team members if an emergency situation arises. Community is a beautiful thing. Give it a try.
No. 5 – Learn to extend grace quickly and easily (Ephesians 4:32)
Those talented people we spoke about working with earlier- they are going to need you to be a person of grace. Strive to be compassionate, caring, kind, and loving to those around you. People mess up. People disappoint us.
I am the chief of bad decisions. I am grateful for those in my life who have extended love and grace to me in my numerous shortcomings. Who am I to deny such grace to anyone for anything? I want to be quick to forgive. When I mess things up, I want to be quick to own it. That’s what people of grace do. No excuses.
No. 6 – Be sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s work around you (1 Corinthians 2:9-14)
Don’t be so caught up in set lists, loops, stem mixes, pads, tight harmonies, and set design that you don’t make time for the working of the Holy Spirit. My prayer each morning is that I would be mindful that my day is His. My schedule is His.
I have an agenda that I would like to tend to but whatever He has in store takes priority. My wife asks me often if my day was mine. She is simply asking if I got to do my work or if something else popped up.
Learn to be ok with the pop ups. The other stuff falls in line when we are sensitive to His plans for us moment by moment.
No. 7 – Never lose the wonder (Luke 5:15-16)
By this I mean don’t overlook personal time with God. This includes such things as prayer, Bible study, and reading edifying books and articles. Maybe most importantly for worship pastors, this also means personal times of worship. Get alone- you and your guitar, piano, tambourine- whatever.
Spend some time ascribing worth to Him. You may find that these sessions offer a freedom in worship that you long to have with your congregation. New songs may be birthed during these times (you may find that you can actually play more than 4 chords . . .).
Try it. You’ll like it. More importantly, so will He.
So, fellow worship leader, a call to action: Let’s aspire to be men and women of God who keep our word, learn to say no, pray for others, inspire and celebrate others, forgive one another quickly, remain sensitive to the Holy Spirit, and spend time with God daily. These are things I wish I had been challenged to commit to when I was beginning my ministry. No doubt I would have saved myself a few heartaches and battle scars. The good news is that it’s never too late to start a new chapter in your story.
Zach has served the worshippers at First Baptist Shelbyville, TN for the last 8 years. He has been married to his beautiful and gracious wife Jennifer for 18 years. They have a son, Elijah, who is 13 AND Jennifer is expecting their second child in September. In his spare time (ha!) Zach enjoys bass fishing and basketball. You can reach out to Zach at firstname.lastname@example.org or find out more about his ministry at www.firstbaptistshelbyville.com.