Last week, I had reprinted a post by my friend and counterpart from the the Kansas-Nebraska Convention of Southern Baptists, David MannerAn Open Letter to Transient Worship Pastors.

“Musical talent and platform presence may help you secure a worship pastor position but developing leadership and relationship skills will help you keep it.  In fact, mandated change in the form of forced termination is often the result of this deficiency and rarely occurs as a result of musical weaknesses.  And yet, where are you spending most of your worship leadership preparation time?  You will never be able to teach enough new songs to make up for your relational and leadership failures.”

You can read the entire post here.

David follows up this post after receiving a lengthy response from a senior pastor presently living that reality with his worship pastor.  Here are some of the comments he shared with genuine pastoral concern:

“I’m a senior pastor working with a worship leader whose talent is apparent on Sunday morning.  It is the behind the scenes stuff that isn’t really getting done.  On numerous occasions I have expressed my concerns and the concerns of others and have encouraged him to follow through with his responsibilities.  His most recent response was, ‘I thought this was more about ministry than about politics.  It feels like I have to accomplish all of these little things when I come to work and I just want to do ministry.’  He really loves people, loves music, and has a great love for God.  He often falls short, however, when it comes to leading people and often wonders why those people are not responding to his leadership.”

As a follow-up to David’s original Open Letter to Transient Worship Pastors and in response to the concerns expressed by this pastor and others, here are some suggestions he wrote for this impasse:

firedSuggestions To Help Worship Pastors Keep Their Jobs

  • Make the mortgage payment before you remodel the kitchen

Worse first!  Since Sunday comes every week…do the things that are necessary before you do the things that can wait.  Do the roadwork at the beginning of the week so you can focus on the things that charge you up at the end of the week.  Thomas Edison said, “People don’t work hard because in their conceit, they imagine they’ll succeed without ever making an effort.  Most people believe that they’ll wake up some day and find themselves successful.  Actually, they’ve got it half right, because eventually they do wake up.”

  • Place more focus on the people than the project

Events are an important part of your ministry but not at the expense of relationships.  Don’t leave relationships in your wake as you move toward the end result.  The process is also ministry.  What will they remember more…the event or the investment you made in them leading up to the event?

  • Look out for number two

In his book 12 Steps for the Recovering Pharisee (Like Me), John Fischer calls placing others first…Looking out for number two.  Become the person who always hopes someone else gets the credit, honor, and accolades.  Abraham Lincoln wrote, “It is surprising how much you can accomplish if you don’t care who gets the credit.”  Effective worship leaders are strength finders and strength builders who constantly affirm publicly and privately.    

  • Be a lifelong learner

You begin coasting the moment you think you have all the understanding, knowledge, and skills needed.  Develop lateral mentoring relationships.  Read ecumenically…and not just authors or subjects you always agree with.  Visit and observe other congregations.  Attend conferences and workshops.  You stop leading when you stop learning.

  • Remember that you are not in this alone

God has called you and will sustain you in that calling.  You must also, however, surround yourself with others.  Bring people along with you.  Let them in.  When you bring people along with you, your failures and successes are distributed out more evenly.  Don’t forget the “great cloud of witnesses surrounding us” (Hebrews 12:1).  Ken Blanchard said, “Leadership is not something you do to people, it is something you do with people.”

  • Love much

Love God

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30).

Love your family

Loving your family means spending time with them.  The Church is the bride of Christ, not your bride.  Don’t sacrifice your family for ministry…nurturing your family is ministry.  Missed opportunities with your spouse and children can never be recovered.

Love the Church

Loving the Church means you trust them enough to let them in.  Vulnerability is not a sign of weakness; it is a sign of humility.  Love the church unconditionally and you will be the beneficiary of much more than you could ever give.

  • Move tables

Are you the leader who disappears to carry out more important ministry obligations when it is time to set up for or clean up after an event?  Jesus said, “But I am among you as the one who serves” (Luke 22:27).  Musicians are often arrogant.  Instead, with genuine humility, be the first one to volunteer for the menial task that no one else wants.  Don Shula once said, “You can’t coach from the press box; you have to be on the field.”

  • Remember that failure is an option (occasionally)

Some companies require their leaders to fail.  If they do not ever fail it means they are not taking enough creative risks.  This suggestion is not a license for laziness or recklessness.  When you fail…don’t blame others for your deficiencies and failures…own them.  Surround yourself with those who have strengths in your areas of weakness so that particular failure is never repeated.

  • Lighten up

When was the last time you actually had fun in ministry?  Maybe the more telling question is when was the last time those you lead had fun under your leadership?  When we arrogantly assume that we are indispensable to God and our busyness is a sign of significance…we need to lighten up.  When we are constantly frustrated with people who will not do what we need them to do…we need to lighten up.  Don’t take yourself so seriously.  Laugh often…mostly at yourself.  A famous conductor jumped into a taxi outside the opera house and shouted to the driver “Hurry! Hurry!” “Very good sir” said the driver.  “But where to?”  “It doesn’t matter,” said the conductor impatiently.  “They need me everywhere.”