My very first experience while leading a team was a steep learning curve and it was not exempt from extreme highs and lows. Sometimes it felt like I was merely fumbling through while trying to keep the team afloat. On numerous occasions, I was tempted to quit but what sustained me through the tumultuous times was the belief that God had called and envisioned me to train and inspire. As the years have gone by, I have had the honor of watching seasoned leaders manage and grow their teams. In turn, God has given me more opportunities to lead. Here below are some of the lessons I have gleaned along the way.
1. People matter
Initially, my leadership style leaned more towards the aspect of completing tasks rather than nurturing relationships. This has changed gradually as I have realized that people are more important than the task at hand. The core business of the church is people. Despite the need to follow through on targets and goals, we should bear in mind that God requires us to love his people first and foremost (John 13:34-35). This however does not mean that we forget the task to which God has called us. Balancing both the people and task is an intricate balance that leaders at all levels must continue to grapple with.
2. Positive conflict
The term conflict is derived from the Latin root word confligere which means to strike two things together. Individuals argue or fight when their attempt to achieve certain goals, either manifest or latent, is hindered. It is important to therefore clarify goals and vision from the onset. Team members who do not agree with these goals have the option of asking more questions or moving on to another worship team that fits their life vision. Conflict may also arise from personality differences. A team leader can view this as an opportunity to learn his/her followers’ character traits leading to the deepening of authentic relationships. Another cause of conflict in the team may be due to leading exemplary followers. These are individuals who are highly engaged and have bought into the vision of the team and may therefore critique your leadership and decisions. A perceptive leader will encourage this kind of follower, because exemplary followers counter the effect of toxic leaders thereby promoting a healthy worship team. Conflict can therefore be positive as it can transform relationships.
3. Synergy releases blessing
The bible talks about our struggle not being with flesh and blood, but against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 6:12). This means that the real enemy is not your team member, but Satan, who comes to steal, kill and destroy. As a worship leader, it is critical to understand how to fight for your worship team in prayer against the onslaught of evil. The devil knows that if he can get your team to strive against each other, the blessing of the Lord is hindered (Psalm 133).
4. Correct in love
As a leader, Christ has entrusted his most precious possession to you- his church. Love should therefore be your undergirding principle, especially when you see a team member make a mistake. The bible is full of wisdom as concerns godly correction (Galatians 6:1, Matthew 18:15-17). There is a difference between being firm in love and downright rude and mean. When the prophet Nathan received a message from the Lord concerning David’s sin, he conveyed it in a manner that resulted in David’s conviction and repentance. The goal should ultimately be to restore the individual. God does not reveal to condemn, but to redeem. Sometimes you may discern sin in the team, but how you respond to this revelation could be the making or breaking of your team. Going to the Lord with the issue and asking him for wisdom on how to handle it should be your first course of action. Sometimes the Lord will ask you to hold on to it in prayer as you become a conduit of his love to this individual. Lastly, be aware of the tone of your voice and body language as you correct a team member.
5. Learn to follow
When David was anointed as King over Israel, he was tending his father’s sheep. By human standards, there were other young men who seemed more qualified than him, but God was adamant on His choice, saying, “Man looks at the outward appearance but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1st Samuel 16:7). God may have anointed you to lead a worship team that is full of highly talented individuals and you may be tempted to quit or compare your gifts. However, see it as an opportunity to grow; God is the one who qualifies His servants. This means that you may need to occasionally step back and give your followers opportunities to lead in areas of their expertise. Do not be afraid to follow. A good leader is one who has grasped the lesson of followership. As a leader, surround yourself with people more qualified than yourself because you only grow to the level of those who you interact with.
6. Initiate growth
One critical trait of an effective leader is being able to celebrate your protégé’s successes, even when they supersede your own. The goal of leadership is to replicate. One question I continually ask myself as I lead is: “Who will take over from me when I am gone.” Succession is a tough but important subject if we are to see the next generation of leaders. Give your followers opportunities to lead and grow. The Lord tests our hearts in this area often, and we must be willing to allow him to deal with our human nature. Let us not be like King Saul, who was threatened by the success of his would-be protégé David.
7. It’s ok to say “I blew it”
Sorry is a big word small people are afraid to use. Every leader has weaknesses and blind spots. It is ok to be vulnerable and acknowledge your mistakes to your team members as this allows them to better keep you accountable. Secondly, it releases you from the pressure of having to be perfect. There is only one perfect leader and His name is Jesus!
Over to you. Your opinion is valuable. What have you learned from your experience as a leader?